After March Forth, We’re a Step Further

Rebekah Hwang/Guardian

The past three weeks of race rallies notwithstanding, it’s pretty rare for most on this campus to care about something enough to band together and get noticed.

So when Library Walk reached max capacity last Thursday, filled with students and faculty members protesting fee hikes, budget cuts, acts of racism and myriad other problems within the university, we felt a monumental shift from the routine air of apathy. Comparable to the Vietnam War protests — UCSD’s pinnacle of glory for any nostalgic activist — the Day of Action was the largest rally UCSD has seen since the 1960s.

Whereas the Sept. 24 walkout tended to confuse and alienate potential student participants by opting for angry chants over educational dialogue, last Thursday’s efforts, though jumbled, focused on enlightening onlookers. Organizers provided students with informational pamphlets on the roots of the university’s financial crisis — an important measure to ensure that participants know the basics of the issues, so that those students who do choose to be part of the rally aren’t merely doing so for an excuse to ditch class.

Also of note is the fact that the Day of Action was not confined to Library Walk. Later in the afternoon, students and faculty shuttled their picket signs to Balboa Park to continue the protest. While our collective off-campus efforts weren’t as awesome or eye-catching as those of UC Davis students, who were arrested for attempting to block a freeway entrance, or UC Santa Cruz students, whose protests resulted in a campus shutdown, we’re proud of the protesters who continued on at Balboa Park Thursday afternoon.

Reprioritizing public education in the state legislature will be no easy feat — and certainly not one that we can expect to realize without ample taxpayer support. In moving our cause away from campus, we attracted the attention of community members who probably haven’t felt the tangible effects of our deteriorating public education system — a group whose support will be crucial in ensuring we receive the state funding we need at the voting booth.

That said, as is inevitable with such a large and diverse group, a lesser degree of ignorance and indirectness was still present last Thursday. One prominent speaker, to the crowd’s applause, decried the fact that the university has continued with on-campus construction projects despite our financial crisis — avoiding the fact that the money used to fund construction projects is set aside for highly specific purposes and cannot legally be used to curtail fee increases. Others still toted their “Lay off Yudof” signs from Fall Quarter, evidently oblivious of the fact that our university’s problems run far deeper than one high-paid suit with a corner office in Oakland.

Of course, it wouldn’t be a campus protest if comprised solely of well-informed, passionate dissenters. What’s more important is that the campus community turned out in such record numbers. A small, disorganized faction of rabble rousers interrupting lectures won’t intimidate the UC Regents or state lawmakers — but an enormous assembly of pissed-off students and faculty members might just raise enough of a ruckus to shake Sacramento.

Let’s not forget that on the same day of the protest, the Black Student Union announced that after two weeks of fighting, it had finally reached an agreement with the administration regarding its list of demands in response to a series of racist events on campus. We need look no further for evidence that a peaceful, organized expression of indignation can yield tangible results — and that’s precisely why our momentum can’t stop here.

A single nationwide day of action is a noble start. In order to maintain UC accessibility and quality, students and faculty members can’t simmer down — not until state legislators, the regents and the voting body of California recognize that we’re a force to be reckoned with.

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