Students across the nation are protesting the effects of budget cuts on public education during this year’s Week of Action.
The UCSB Coalition organized a series of events and protests on campus from Monday through Wednesday to promote discussion about impending UC budget cuts and the protection of public education. The week culminates in a Southern California-wide rally hosted by UCLA in Los Angeles on Thursday, April 14.
Governor Jerry Brown introduced a new budget proposal last week that would cut $1.1 billion from the UC system — about twice as much he originally projected.
Zenaida Perez Fuentes, a fifth-year global and Chican@ studies major, said the purpose of the week is to emphasize the need for student activism.
“We are having the Week of Action to not only inform students about the budget cuts in higher education, but as a way to channel all our disappointment and frustration with our elected officials,” Fuentes, a member of the UCSB Coalition, said. “They are failing to prioritize higher educa- tion. Students cannot afford to remain silent in light of the cuts we are experiencing in higher education.”
Quinn Nguyen, another member of the UCSB Coalition, said the purpose of today’s event is to garner student attention.
“It’s a representation of the state cutting funding for higher education,” Nguyen, a fourth-year political science and global studies major, said. “Look out for an angry dollar. I don’t want to give too much away, but keep an eye out when you’re on campus.”
On Tuesday, students are planning a UCen sit-in for “Emergency Discussing and Organizing.”
“We want to educate students on the situation and create an open environment,” Nguyen said. “We’ll look at fees and how cuts can be dealt with fairly and proportionally. We’ll also discuss how we got here and the steps we must take to get out of this. [The sit-in] is a people’s assembly — a place for discussion, organizing and mobilization. It’s the start of things to come.”
Sophia Armen, a second-year political science major and student organizer, said all are welcome to join the event.
“We really want to include the faculty as well as the stu- dents,” Armen said. “Some professors have expressed interest and we hope to have a diverse and inclusive group of people involved and contributing to this emergency dialogue.”
Students will call government officials on Wednesday to state their case for the fund- ing of higher education. A board with the contact information of these leaders will be on display in the UCen.
UCLA has obtained a permit to shut down a street in Los Angeles for Thursday’s mass rally.
“It is important for us to join with the other UCs in solidarity to rally against these cuts,” Nguyen said. “We need to send a strong message to Gov. Brown that we oppose both the $500 million and $1 bil- lion cuts to our education.”
Fuentes said the UCSB Coalition hopes to effectively communicate their goal of maintaining public education.
“As students, we need to deliver a clear message to our federal government: No cuts in higher education,” Fuentes said. “No more balancing the budget on the backs of students.”
Two vans will transport students to the protest in Los Angeles on Thursday. To arrange a ride, email ucsbcoalition@gmail. com.