Five University of California students were arrested yesterday for disrupting business while lobbying Sacramento legislators for higher education funding.
Nearly 300 student protesters marched on the capitol and demanded a $1 billion increase in state support for higher education, a decrease in investment for the state’s prison system and protection for the Cal Grant Program. UC President Mark G. Yudof, UC Regents Chairman Russell Gould and university officials also gathered at the capitol to call for increased state funding for higher education.
Venadia Perez, a fourth-year global studies major, praised the collective efforts of students from across the UC system.
“[The rally] was a complete success,” Perez said. “There was so much solidarity between students. Everyone was empowered. … Everyone here felt like their voice was heard. We got to meet with assembly members. Just to hear them say they supported us was wonderful.”
According to Quinn Nguyen, a third-year political science and global studies major at UCSB, the group of protesters appealed for the preservation of the original tenants of the UC Master Plan for Higher Education, which essentially calls for a university that reflects the diversity of the state population and provides free public tuition.
“We have a couple of platforms,” Quinn said. “[Higher education] is the wrong thing to cut. [The state is] spending more on prison construction than higher education.”
At the protest, UC Student Association president Victor Sanchez demanded that Yudof, the Regents and each campus’ chancellor denounce recently reported acts of racism and intolerant behavior at UC San Diego, UC Irvine and UC Davis.
According to a University of California Office of the President press release, Yudof and about 100 students holding a sit-in in front of the UC Sacramento building engaged in a wide-ranging discussion in which Yudof publicly condemned the recent incidents at various UC campuses. At UCSD, a series of race-related incidents have occurred in the wake of a racially-themed off-campus party and the discovery of a noose in the university’s library. Yesterday, UC Santa Cruz officials found graffiti referencing the incident at UCSD.
At UC Davis, a swastika was recently carved into a Jewish student’s door and anti-gay graffiti was also found sprayed in the campus’ Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Resource Center.
Yudof also said he endorsed the “sentiment” of a legislative bill authored by the UCSA that calls for the expulsion of all students who exhibit acts of intolerance with intent to terrorize.
“These are the worst incidents of racism I have seen on campuses in 20 years,” Yudof said, according to the press release. “I understand that students don’t feel safe, they don’t feel comfortable on their campuses.”
Multiple instances of prejudice exhibited at UC campuses could tarnish the university’s reputation, Student Regent-Designate Jesse Cheng said.
“The University is in danger of losing the trust of its students,” Cheng said.
Yesterday’s march is the first of several events this week targeting the state’s investment in public education. On Thursday, students and UC affiliates will hold a statewide rally to support public education. Local events are scheduled for March 4, including a rally in the Arbor at noon and a march downtown at 4 p.m.