Students Rally for Day of Action

    “We need to keep up the struggle to demonstrate that public education is a social priority, a political priority and an economic priority,” Public Education Coalition member Kevin Quirolo said at Thursday’s rally. “Public education is not going to fight for itself. Last year we forgot that, and [the state] cut our funding by hundreds of millions of dollars.”

    About 150 protesters attended the 11:30 a.m. rally organized by the PEC. Protesters at the Silent Tree carried signs with messages such as “I do not let A.S. speak for me” and “California: #1 prison funding, #48 education.” The crowd doubled in an hour, with up to 400 people in attendance before the planned campus march.

    Literature professor Luis Cabrera spoke in support of the protest by directly addressing fellow faculty members.

    “If we want change, we need to put our bodies on the line with the students and workers,” Cabrera said. “It is time to disobey. If students are arrested, we should be arrested.”

    One uniformed university police officer was in attendance; protesters later discovered a man in plain clothes to be a university police officer. According to the Daily Californian, UCSD spokesperson Jeff Gattas said that police officers dressed in plain clothes are always present at gatherings.

    According to Quirolo, March 1 began as a national call to action by Berkeley-based group Occupy Education, and included demonstrations across New York and Ohio, as well as on the UC, Cal State and community college campuses. According to the Daily Californian, protesters at UC Santa Cruz shut down incoming and outgoing traffic to the campus from 4:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.

    Quirolo said that the PEC began planning the Day of Action — which was mostly student-organized —after hosting Radical Rush Week at the beginning of Winter Quarter.

    PEC member Sean Estelle said that the organization formed committees to reach out to professors, publicize the event to students and discuss marching routes and reclamation spaces.

    Estelle said that faculty involvement in Thursday’s events was crucial to the strength of the movement. According to Estelle, members of the PEC used templates from teachthebudget.com to email professors and ask them hold class outside in conjunction with the rally.

    “We’re in this position where more and more faculty are starting to side with the students — student debt is larger than credit card debt — they understand what we’re going through, they can feel for us,” Estelle said.

    The PEC also collaborated with visual arts professor Ricardo Dominguez to hold a virtual sit-in, an electronic form of civil disobedience. In 2010, Dominguez staged a virtual sit-in on the website of UC President Mark G. Yudof. The 2010 sit-in disrupted the site’s operations, and Dominguez was later under university investigations for suspicion of criminal activity.

    This year’s virtual sit-in, which ends on March 5 at 11:59 p.m., targets bankofamerica.com, jerrybrown.org and universityofcalifornia.edu.

    Around 30 to 60 members of the PEC “reclaimed” the Chancellor’s Complex around 3 p.m. Thursday afternoon. They submitted a list of six demands that the chancellor must meet by March 8 in order for the protesters to vacate the building. According to the “Statement of Intentions from the Reclaimers’ Complex to the UCSD Administration,” drafted March 1, if campus administration does not meet the demands, the PEC will escalate actions against the administration.

    “It’s a huge deal though, that the conference room is successfully reclaimed,” Estelle said. “We’re in the heart of the university, and we’re not going away.”

    The demands call for the support of under-funded departments and continued free services provided by OASIS, as well as overall changes in the UC system. The organizers are waiting on a written statement from the administration.

    According to Estelle, Assistant Vice Chancellor of Student Life Gary Ratcliff was in attendance at the general assembly held at the Chancellor’s Complex on Thursday. PEC members are encouraging the administration to continue using the space as normal.

    “They’re still using their offices and seem to be ignoring us,” Estelle said. “Nothing has been done and there has been extremely minimal police involvement.”

    Students from the PEC, SAAC, A.S. Council, Student Organized Voter Access Committee and others left for Sacramento on Saturday for the Student Lobbying Conference.

    According to Estelle, up to 10,000 students will rally state legislators and occupy the capital today.

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