Students, workers and administrators UC system-wide converged on the state capitol Monday for a full day of lobbying with legislators, resulting in the arrest of five student protestors.
While approximately 300 students were marching and chanting around the capitol building, UC President Mark Yudof, Regents Russell Gould, Richard Blum and Monica Lozano, five chancellors and UC Student Association representatives lobbied for more funding of higher education.
UC Davis Chancellor Linda Katehi planned to tell legislators that they cannot protect the state unless they protect the university and the Cal Grant – a scholarship that would be eliminated under Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s latest budget proposal.
“The future of the state is in our own institution,” Katehi said.
Student representatives hoped to discuss the fine line of privatization the university is treading on with legislators, said Victor Sanchez, UCSA president.
“We plan to say that we want more funding,” he said. “We want our fees rolled back. We want to make education a right and not a privilege.”
UCSA leaders maintained the protests would be nonviolent and show the public that the students have arrived to save public education.
At about 4 p.m., some 100 students gathered outside the office of Assemblyman Jim Nielsen, R-Yuba City. Five students were arrested for disrupting state business and demonstrating without a permit, California Highway Patrol said.
Officers asked the crowd to disperse, and gave ample time before the arrests were made, CHP Sgt. Steve Stone said. The five students were cited and released by 5 p.m.
Students initially gathered at 11:30 a.m. to march in the streets of Sacramento. They returned to the north steps of the capitol building an hour later for a rally and a press conference.
Regents did not march with the students upon an agreement with UCSA, in part because the two groups don’t agree on certain platforms. Regents also wanted to respect UCSA’s wishes to have an exclusively student movement, Student Regent-Designate Jesse Cheng said.
Student representatives from UCSA and different UC campuses spoke about the power of the student voice and the need for the state to start funding education more than prisons.
Four legislators gave speeches as well, calling on students to start pressuring the state to support bill AB 656, which would tax oil and natural gas companies and bring that money – approximately $1 billion – to higher education.
Assemblyman Warren Furutani, D-Long Beach, urged students to speak out against Gov. Schwarzenegger’s plan to cut Cal Grants. Students met with the governor that evening to discuss the issue.
Many speakers touched on the recent hate crimes across UC campuses.
In light of the vandalism targeting the LGBT and Jewish communities on the UC Davis campus, more work will need to be done to help the university beyond getting funding, Katehi said.
“Our community is at risk and we need to work very hard to restore it,” Katehi said.
Sasha Muce, a senior anthropology major from UC Santa Cruz, blamed the crimes on the university’s privatization, which does not allow for a tolerant, racially diverse populace.
“Only upper class, wealthy people can get into [California’s] higher education, and that needs to change,” he said.
Earlier that morning, a message was found on the wall of a women’s bathroom at UC Santa Cruz reading, “San Diego Lynch” with a drawing of a noose, referencing the noose found in the UC San Diego library last week.
The claim that the university is diverse is a lie, Cheng said in his speech. UC San Diego has never had more than 3 percent of its student population be African American, he said.
Protests will continue on all UC campuses and at the capitol on Thursday. Yudof and other regents will not be present, though they claim to support the student movements.
“As long as it’s orderly, I’m cheering them on,” Yudof said.
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