A rhythm of clanking metal and unified chants filled Quarry Plaza on Thursday at noon as nearly 40 students marched from Humanities 2 to protest the tuition increase at UC Santa Cruz’s 50th anniversary kick-off event, “Dress Like It’s 1965.”
The disruption of the university event was the most recent in a series of student protests against the approved five-year plan to increase tuition by up to 5 percent each year, and employed a somewhat straightforward strategy — to make noise.
“We’re here to make some noise and basically say the fight’s not over and that we still actively care about the tuition hikes,” said first-year Suraya Essi, who participated in the march.
Students banged on pans, trash cans and drums, shouting, “No hikes, no fees, education should be free” as they filed into Quarry Plaza. Most attendees and organizers of the event carried on with the festivities despite the disruption, while others observed the protesters.
Several protesters proceeded to the main stage where those who partook in the event’s 1965 outfit challenge were being photographed, and held up a 4-by-10 foot poster of UC President Janet Napolitano with “Napolitano fired” printed across her face.
Community Safety Officers and a UCSC police officer were present, but did not intervene in the protest at any point.
Although the protest was scheduled to go until 2 p.m., it ended an hour early. The “noise rally” was the first instance in which a tuition protest interefered with a university-organized event.
“Part of the message is, why isn’t tuition like it was in 1965?” said third-year Jameson Rush, who was one of the first protesters on the scene.
In a statement delivered via “human microphone,” or when a group of people repeat what a single speaker says, students emphasized the disparity between free tuition at UCSC 50 years ago and the increasing tuition prices today.
“If we want to celebrate 1965,” they shouted in unison, “we have to make tuition history.”
When asked whether the administration has responded to protests regarding the tuition increase, Zhani, a third-year who preferred to be only identified by this first name, said that although it does not repress student action, it fails to act on students’ demands.
“[The administration] seems to enjoy saying they support our right to free speech and protest without ever listening to the words we’re saying,” Zhani said. “We’re going to keep escalating until they are forced to pay attention to our message.”