Students and faculty members from across the state will rally today for increased funding for public education.
Protesters at UCSB plan on walking out of class at noon to rally in the Arbor for the statewide March Day of Action against the budget cuts hitting public education. An hour-long lineup of speakers and public comment will be followed by a march to Embarcadero Hall, where students will be transported to join a rally downtown at 4 p.m.
Janelle Mungo — a representative of UCSB Coalition, the group organizing today’s events — said students should use March 4 as an opportunity to vocally oppose the state’s de-funding of education.
“The state legislators who are approving the budget need to remember that we as youth are part of their constituency and we as youth need to remember the same thing,” Mungo, a fourth-year psychology major said. “By showing support for public education systemwide and creating awareness around the issues, we can make change within the government and also start looking for solutions outside the polls.”
Art history professor Carole Paul, a member of the University Council-American Federation of Teachers, said in a press release that the quality of an undergraduate education should be the UC’s top priority.
“When the UC Regents decide that undergraduate instruction is as important as bond ratings and new buildings, the crisis at UC will [be] resolved,” Paul said.
Today’s rally is one of many protests that have rocked the UC system in the wake of budget cuts and fee hikes. Within the past week, police had to intervene in two public education protests, with a flash mob dance party transforming into a riot at UC Berkeley and with the arrest of five UC students who were lobbying in Sacramento this Monday.
Despite the recent incidents, Mungo said the Coalition does not expect acts of violence at UCSB.
“Our goal is to unite the campus community as a whole to recognize the many issues that budget cuts create and create a non-violent, cohesive environment to find solutions to these problems,” Mungo said.
Today’s statewide rallies, organizers said, aim to demand that California and UC officials prioritize public education.
“Public education in this state should be free,” Mitchell Stewart, a fourth-year history major, said. “However, [as it stands] the 32 percent tuition increase should be immediately repealed and the University should move the tuition back to where it was just 10 years ago, or roughly $4,000 per year.”
According to Stewart, the student body needs to take a firm stance against the privatization of the UC system.
“The anti-racist, labor rights and feminist movements in the 20th century all faced formidable odds,” Stewart said. “Through perseverance, hard work and organization, each was able to expand the boundaries of democracy in the United States. It is only through a dedicated movement from the bottom up that any positive change happens in this country or indeed, the world.”
Speakers at the Arbor today will include Walden Bello, an Akbayan Representative in the 14th Congress of Republic of the Philippines, and city councilmember Das Williams, as well as various students, staffers, faculty members and workers. Carpools and busses will take students downtown from 1 to 3 p.m. and at 3:45 p.m., marchers will gather at De La Guerra Plaza before heading down State Street to the Santa Barbara Courthouse.