College students across California are organizing statewide demonstrations against education budget cuts.
A coalition group, Students for California’s Future, is organizing demonstrations on Monday, Apr. 21 in Sacramento, Santa Barbara, Los Angeles, Riverside and San Diego.
In Sacramento, students will march from Raley Field in West Sacramento to the steps of the State Capitol, where they will hold a rally and press conference.
“This is something that everyone needs to hear, whether or not you’re a student,” said Stephanie Chan, president of Students for California’s Future. “Education just isn’t something we can afford to scrimp on.”
Chan, an undergraduate at UC Berkeley, said the event is being organized by students, for students. Organizers are promoting the events through word of mouth, e-mail and press releases, she said.
The University of California faces a proposed cut of $331.9 million. The governor’s revised budget is due in mid-May.
Students for California’s Future includes representatives from the University of California, the California State University and the California Community College system.
“They’ve actually never really come together for any single issue before, but this is an issue that affects everyone,” Chan said. “We want to put ourselves front and center at the legislature.”
UC Davis has not been very involved in organizing the rally because it is not a member of the University of California Student Association, said Andrew Saetern, UC Davis sophomore international relations major who is helping to coordinate the demonstrations.
“They’re open for any help they can get, especially from Davis,” he said.
The rally and press conference at the capitol steps will include speeches from assembly speaker Fabian Nunez, Lieutenant Governor John Garamendi, and assembly member Anthony Portantino (D-Pasadena).
“Lt. Gov. Garamendi has been a leading voice at the two systems in college affordability, student fee issues and transparency,” said Mike Roth, Garamendi’s communications director. “He will greet them with open arms to the capitol and strongly encourage them to make their voices heard.”
Garamendi is a UC Regent and a CSU trustee. His office has been assisting the student associations in organizing, Roth said.
Some legislative changes are already being made to counteract the impact of the governor’s proposed budget cuts.
On Tuesday a bill to allocate $80 million to the California Community College system from the state’s General Fund passed the Assembly Higher Education Committee. That money would replace an unexpected shortfall of $84.4 million in property tax revenues.
“If we fail to act immediately, students lose out on the opportunity to improve the quality of their lives,” said assembly member Mike Eng (D-Monterey Park) in a press release.
More information on Monday’s demonstrations is available at studentsforcalifornia.org or by contacting Saetern, the UC Davis coordinator, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
JEREMY OGUL can be reached at email@example.com. XXX