The UCSB Student Veterans Organization is hosting its Veterans’ Day celebration at noon today in Storke Plaza while student demonstrators congregate there to protest UC tuition hikes and budget cuts.
The SVO’s event will open with an introduction from Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs Michael Young and a speech from Congresswoman Lois Capps. Student protesters will congregate in a nearby area as part of a demonstration against the state’s $650 million cut in UC funding this year.
SVO President Raymond Morua said the commemoration highlights the sacrifices soldiers make serving their country.
“The event’s not a celebration of war, it’s to honor the people who have served,” Morua said. “Not everyone gets to choose whether to go to war. For instance, people [who fought] in the Vietnam War were drafted. So they shouldn’t be bashed; they were just trying to serve their country.”
The Veterans’ Day celebration will feature war artifacts including a ‘Huey’ helicopter from the Vietnam War and a presentation displaying local veterans’ various medals and distinctions.
Event Coordinator Brian Gaylord said the event helps share veterans’ war experiences with students.
“We’ve invited some organizations from around the community to come celebrate with us,” Gaylord said. “They’ll be talking with all the students from around campus and other people who come about their lives as veterans … and war experiences.”
Capps will present the UCSB Student Veterans Organization with a certificate of Congressional Recognition to honor their efforts in championing service members’ rights.
Meanwhile, an unidentified student assembly will gather at Storke Plaza and march to the Arbor as the Veteran’s Day celebration begins. Demonstrators can participate in a public forum before a set of unnamed speakers address the crowd.
According to the event’s Facebook page — created by an anonymous user and titled “BUDGET CUT RALLY #2013FreeUC” — the state, Board of Regents and UC administrators have failed to prioritize student interests and are using the national economic recession as an excuse to privatize the institutions.
The page calls for a total reform of the Board of Regents and challenges UC President Mark Yudof to step down from his position for not properly addressing student concerns.
Associated Students President Harrison Weber said the rally presents an opportunity for students to better understand the circumstances surrounding the UC’s fiscal standing.
“I wholeheartedly believe student apathy, lack of knowledge, and indifference to the UCSB experience is something that needs to be combated,” Weber said. “Students need to be informed and they need to know what they’re paying for and why they’re paying for it. It’s a large and complex issue but the most important thing is that students are informed about the tragedy facing public education.”