Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Cal State Sacramento Warms Up for March 4th Walk Out and Rally

If you're a student at one of the 9 University of California or 23 California State University campuses, then you are WELL AWARE that tuition is up. Way up. And it's not stopping any time soon. Tuition in the California public education system has or is about to increase 32% over last quarter or semester.

And despite California students paying more, they're getting less. Hundreds of classes on each campus have been entirely canceled, faculty and lecturers have been laid off, class sizes have increased, academic departments, resource centers and programs are being eliminated (with women's and multicultural programs taking the worst cuts), faculty are being furloughed, and you'll spend longer than any class before you trying to complete your degree requirements.

March 4th is the Nationwide Walkout and Rally Day to Defend Public Education. Students at all 32 public universities in California are walking out of class and joining in protests, rallies, marches and demonstrations to demand affordable and accessible public education. Students across the nation are standing in solidarity - over 100 events are planned in at least 28 states.

Today, my co-Campus Organizer, Jacqueline Sun, and I are at Cal State Sacramento where we are meeting with the newly formed Women's Studies Student Association (WSSA), who will be taking action to expose fake clinics near campus!

Upon arriving this morning, we were happily surprised to find that the broad coalition of students working to demand affordable education and oppose the fee hikes and furloughs had organized a pre-March 4th rally on campus today, since Cal State Sacramento students will be protesting along with hundreds, if not thousands, of other students at the state Capitol on Thursday.

Today's rally and march had several hundred students in attendance, including the WSSA members (picture at right). Students chanted "Our Future! Our Nation! We must defend our education!", and "Hey hey! Ho ho! Budget cuts have got to go!", as they marched through campus.

The rally featured students' stories about how fee hikes, cut classes and furloughs have affected their lives personally. For many students in the CSU system, they may be the first in their family to go to college, and while they may be close to finishing their degree, the enormous fee hikes will prevent them from being able to continue. A student also spoke to the experiences of undocumented students, who are often unable to work in order to pay for college and can not apply for financial aid. Fee hikes are literally denying low-income students and a disproportionate number of students of color of their right to an education.

The rally and march all ended with a "Three little pigs and the big bad Chancellor" skit (the houses that the Chancellor blew down were "Affordability", "Access" and "Quality"), and then students were invited to smash the FEE HIKE pinatas!

This is a pivotal moment. The changes that are taking place right now are undoing decades of improvements to the California public education system and it will take decades to get back to the not-so-great place we are at today. These changes will affect you, right now; they'll affect your younger brothers and sisters in years to come; and they'll affect the ability of your future children and grandchildren to access a quality education!

Students across the entire nation will be taking action this Thursday, March 4th, to demand affordable, accessible, and quality public education. Join the efforts on your campus and wear red to stand in solidarity with UC and CSU students.

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