A group of union service workers and supporting students rallied in front of Chancellor Henry T. Yang’s office yesterday only to find
that the chancellor had already left the building.
The afternoon march was organized by two public worker unions — the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, University Professional and Technical Employees and Coalition of University Employees — and attracted a group of about 15 students and service workers who were concerned that communication between the administration and undergraduate students regarding the UC budget had been compromised. The humble crowd assembled outside of Cheadle Hall with intentions to hand-
deliver a disgruntled letter to Yang.
Before making the trek up to Yang’s office in room 5221, Vanessa Hernandez, author of the letter and third-year Chicana/o and feminist studies major, said she was stunned by the lack of support the administration has provided to those suffering from the budget deficit.
“It’s incredible to me that we are expected to carry on with business as usual while this goes on,” Hernandez said. “How are we supposed to ace our midterms when we don’t even know if we will have a major tomorrow?”
Chris Corrente, Dining Services employee and avid member of AFSCME, said that morale among staff is at an all time low, claiming that UC officials are “giving with one hand and taking with the other.” Corrente said he also fears that fee hikes and lack of student aid will compromise the diversity of the UC system.
“The administration is on the path of privatizing the university,” Corrente said. “Before you know it, we’ll be like [the University of Southern Califoria] where the only dark skin you’ll see is that of the service workers.”
Although the chancellor had vacated his office before the group arrived, the participants demanded to schedule a meeting with Yang and left the letter with his assistant.
Associate Vice Chancellor Marc Fisher, who walked in as the group voiced their transgressions to the office audience, said that he supports the protesters’ freedom to demonstrate, but also holds the opinion that the administration is working to salvage the heart of the institution in the least invasive way possible.
“I think that it’s important to have this dialogue,” Fisher said. “University funding is in a dire state, but we are trying to make wise business decisions and protect the quality of operations. We are trying to preserve the core mission of the UC system, which is education.”
The rally was followed by a candlelight vigil at the Arbor, during which time the group paid their respects to the University, symbolically mourning what they consider to be the death of an affordable public education. The ceremony, led by UC worker Julian Posadas, was complete with gravestones depicting beloved student services that may soon be sacrificed to the budget god.
Those attending the vigil expressed their appreciation for numerous programs including the Education Abroad Program, Counseling Services and Student Health Services, among others.