With the upcoming special election less than a week away, about 70 women and men gathered in Storke Plaza yesterday chanting slogans, clapping and listening to speakers concerned with the eight propositions appearing on the ballot.
Rally organizers aimed to educate students, faculty and staff about the propositions from an alternative perspective to that of the mainstream media, such as FOX Broadcasting Company, Yvonne Tran, event organizer and third-year Asian American studies major, said. Members of the Queer Student Union, Campus Democrats, CalPIRG and other student groups also demonstrated in front of the UCen, handing out fliers supporting the statements rally speakers made.
“These are outside views you don’t hear in the media,” Tran said in the rally’s closing speech. “I’m here to encourage you to go out and find alternative means of news and media – FOX isn’t cutting it.”
Six speakers from UCSB and community organizations focused their speeches against Propositions 73, 75, 76 and 78, but gave support to Props 79 and 80. Tran said organizers also held the rally to remind citizens of their duty to vote, which she said is too often forgotten.
“Some people don’t even know there’s a special election,” Tran said.
Posters lining the sides of the plaza were decorated with black silhouettes of women and inscribed with the slogan “No Vote, No Voice. Womyn Speak Up.” Speakers said the slogan referred to the implications of Prop 73. If passed, the proposition would require physicians to inform parents of a minor’s decision to have an abortion 48 hours before the operation. Because minors cannot vote on the proposition even though it directly affects them, Rachel Montesdeoca, from the campus group MUJER, said the those of voting age need to step up to defend the rights of younger citizens.
“People may be walking by ignoring this, saying, ‘It doesn’t affect me,'” Montesdeoca said. “Think of your sisters, your nieces, your cousins. We are their voices.”
Some of the rally speakers offered arguments against Prop 73. Keynote speaker Diane Fujino, an Asian American studies professor, said the notification policy would be especially detrimental to minors whose parents physically and sexually abuse them.
Fujino also spoke out against Prop 75, which would require unions to obtain yearly written consent from members before using dues or fees for political contributions. She suggested the proposition be applied to corporations instead of unions.
“Getting written consent is time-consuming,” Fujino said. “It would undercut unions’ abilities – why not place a similar restriction on corporations who outspend unions 24-to-one without consent from their shareholders?”
Hun Taing, organizational director for public employees labor union SEIU, Local 620, said union dues are used to support or oppose political campaigns about pensions, living wages, healthcare and social services. Were Prop 75 to pass, Taing said, union members would have no say in issues most directly affecting them.
Besides taking power away from union members, rally speakers said one of the propositions – Prop 76 – would give too much power to Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. Felicia Cruz, Associated Students external vice president for statewide affairs, said the proposition would give the governor the unchecked ability to cut funding from the California state budget, including funds meant for education.
“[Prop 76] is an attack on K-through-14 education and higher education,” Cruz said. “It would give the governor the right to declare a state of budget emergency and cut from the education budget.”
Other speakers focused on the two propositions, Props 78 and 79, which recommend discounts for pharmacy drugs. Polina Conn, a representative from Health Care For All and a 1965 UCSB graduate, said while both propositions would give discounts to California citizens in need of cheaper drugs, Prop 78 would unfairly benefit pharmaceutical companies.
Fujino commended those who staged walkouts, marches, protests and rallies yesterday against the “Bush regime” and said voters should band together to support those who need a louder voice.
“Don’t vote randomly in your own self interest,” Fujino said. “Vote with the marginal, those who are most oppressed.”