Over 70 protesters rallied across campus yesterday to urge the university to spare student resource programs from the budget cut chopping block.
The throng of students, service workers and employees of threatened programs gathered at noon at North Hall and advanced across campus to the Student Resource Building chanting, “Whose university? Our university!”
Amid cries of “They say cut backs, we say fight back,” protesters assembled to hear testimonials from students who said they have benefited from the student resource programs endangered by the UC-wide budget deficit. Many of the speakers at the rally expressed their appreciation for the numerous student services provided by the university – including Career Services, Counseling Services and Student Health Services, among others.
David Preciado, a second-year Chicano/Chicana studies major, credited UCSB’s Educational Opportunity Program with his personal success at UCSB. Preciado said losing such crucial resources would be a mistake for the university.
“I think it’s pivotal that we as students come together from all different backgrounds and organizations and make our voices heard,” Preciado said.
Julian Posadas, member organizer for the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees and a food service laborer at UCSB, said he and the workers he represents are behind the student body.
“We have to work [together], it’s a community,” Posadas said. “We want to support the students. … The UC has forgotten about their workers and students and today we stand in solidarity.”
While addressing the crowd, Paul Monge, a second-year global studies and sociology major, laid down a list of demands for the university.
“More student representatives on campus budget committees, commitment for greater fiscal transparency and respect for student sovereignty,” Monge said.
Chris Martin, a third-year English major and President of the Black Pioneers Renaissance Organization, issued the closing remarks for the rally. Martin said that EOP and other student resource organizations are critical for helping students adjust to the collegiate environment.
“It’s not just a black thing, or a white thing, an Asian, or brown, homo or heterosexual issue,” Martin said. “This affects all the students, the entire campus, regardless of race, background, creed, culture or orientation.”
After Martin’s closing remarks, students lingered to sign a petition on behalf of EOP. The organization is currently campaigning to offset the impact of budget cuts by placing a fee initiative on the ballot for campus elections this spring. The organization must collect 2,700 signatures in order to place the initiative on the ballot.
Martin encouraged the protesters not to give up their fight.
“Sometimes we may grow weary of chanting and marching, but I assure you that we can renew our strength in the hope that we have for our future,” he said.