Hundreds of community members marched to the Student Resource Building yesterday to demonstrate their support for state-funded public education.
Protester grievances included budget cuts, tuition increases, class cancellations and racial discrimination in higher education. The procession crossed bike paths several times, halting traffic as marchers played impromptu percussion instruments and used megaphones to chant the slogans “Whose University? Our University!” and “UC students under attack, what do we do? Stand up, fight back!”
Despite improvements in faculty blanks, Chican@ Studies associate professor Ralph Armbruster-Sandoval, said students are still bearing the brunt of the UC’s budget deficit.
“This is a continuation of the mobilization from [this year’s] March 4 protests, which stemmed from anger about the UC Regents’ decision to raise student fees,” Armbruster-Sandoval said. “We got our furlough money back, but student fees increased by 32 percent so I’m getting paid at the expense of the students.”
Other speakers, including David Preciado, a fourth-year Chican@ studies major, said the university observes discriminatory hiring practices.
“When I’m taking three ethnic studies classes and my TAs don’t resemble the color of the people I’m learning about…” Preciado said. “OH, HELL NO!” the crowd responded.
Crowd members also sporadically shouted opinions on topics ranging from the UC Regents to crashing classes.
Rick Ramirez, a third-year sociology major, said he attended the event due to his concern for UCSB’s financial predicament.
“I’m fired up about tuition,” he said. “Privatization and public education should not be put together. This protest is about all of our futures.”
UCSB Coalition — the student group that organized the event — member Quinn Nguyen, a fourth-year global studies and political science major, spent two months organizing yesterday’s Day of Action rally.
Nguyen said she hopes the event will get the attention of gubernatorial candidates.
“Student issues don’t excite most of the state,” Nguyen said, “This is different from a club or a hobby. I know people who have had to drop out because they cannot afford tuition and people younger than me are opting out of going to college because they don’t think they can afford it.”
Most attendees were concerned with budget issues, but Matt Hapip, a third-year sociology major, had more immediate worries.
“Let’s get some sandwiches,” Hapip said to Ramirez. “I protest better on a full stomach.”