Campus Prepares For March 4 Protest

Today, thousands of students, teachers, parents and workers across the nation will participate in the March 4 Day of Action to Defend Education.

The protest was conceived at the Mobilizing Conference to Save Public Education at UC Berkeley last year on Oct. 24, where 800 attendees voted democratically for March 4 to represent a day of protest for public education.

According to a map on www.studentactivism.net, more than 100 activities in support of the cause have been planned in over 32 states.

As a result of the California budget crisis, all levels of public education statewide have suffered budget cuts. The UC budget alone has been cut $813 million. The CSU and community college budgets have been cut $584 and $825 million, respectively, while the K-12 budget has been cut by $5.3 billion.

According to the UCSD Coalition for Educational Justice, the Day of Action is a peaceful demonstration against the budget cuts, student fee hikes and layoffs that public higher education has experienced this year as a result of decreased state funding.

The coalition calls on all UCSD faculty and teaching assistants to hold a teach-in, or to teach outside in public spaces. Students and workers are encouraged to walk out, rally and strike to show the state legislature that accessible public education is an important priority.

At UCSD, an open press conference will be held by Coalition at 11 a.m. in the Cross Cultural Center. Participants will then meet at 11:30 a.m. at Gilman Parking Structure and march to Library Walk.

From 12 p.m. to 1:30 p.m., a rally with speakers and performers will be held in front of Geisel Library. At 1:30 p.m., participants will take the MTS 150 bus route to participate in the San Diego Regional Rally and march to Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s office in downtown San Diego.

According to the UCSD Faculty Coalition Statement, the protest brings necessary attention to rising student fees, faculty furloughs, consolidated staff positions and reduced class offerings.

UCSD Coalition organizer and ethnic studies student Jose Fuste said the movement’s strategy is to educate the community with hopes that it will communicate its concerns about public education to the candidates in this year’s gubernatorial election.

“We want to raise awareness in the press [about] how the people of the University of California aren’t happy about what the university is turning into, and [about how they] want Sacramento and the regents to turn the ship around and go back to its core mission of being a public institution of higher education,” Fuste said.

UCSD Coalition member and Marshall College freshman Crystal Tong said she will miss her classes to participate in the protest.

“This is a big deal,” Tong said. “It’s important for people to be a part of this protest, for students to be heard. If it makes a difference for me to be protesting, I will be there.”

A total of 407 University of California faculty members, including 40 from UCSD, have signed a statement on www.checkingeducation.com, agreeing to “suspend business as usual and participate in the March 4 day of actions for public education.”

French literature professor Catherine Ploye plans to teach her class outside and will not penalize students for participating in the day’s events.

UCSD Faculty Coalition member Roshanak Kheshti will also move her ethnic studies lecture outside, and use class time to discuss changes in the UC system over the last 15 years.

Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs Penny Rue said that the administration supports students who choose to participate in the rally.

“[March 4 will demonstrate] the strong support that students have for helping our state Legislature understand the importance of higher education to our community,” Rue said. “Students are to make their voices heard in Sacramento, and we appreciate their actions.”

Readers can contact Serena Lee at [email protected].

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