Students gathered on the steps of Storke Plaza yesterday to march in protest of a 9.6 percent tuition increase for Fall Quarter in addition to other student fee increases and budget cuts, which demonstrators say reflect a lack of student representation within the UC administration.
Participants marched from Storke Tower to the Arbor, chanting in unison, “The school costs too much, we can’t afford to pay!” in response to state budget cuts that have resulted in a 300 percent increase in UC tuition over the last ten years. Supporters formed a circle in front of the Arbor and many students stepped into the circle to express how the proposed tuition increase will affect them personally.
Nadya Chavies, a first-year political science major, said budgetary issues affect minorities disproportionately and called for students to address the issues immediately.
“Education should not be for the privileged,” Chavies said. “This affects me today as a person of color, you as minorities, our future children, my sisters [and] your brothers. If we don’t stand up today, no one will tomorrow.”
Several students argued that the root of the issue is not a lack of funding but faulty prioritization within the state budget, which allocates more money towards prisons than it does to schools. In addition, concerns were raised that UC campuses will become privatized and accessible only to wealthy students due to continuing gaps in UC funding, including an expected $100 million shortcoming in revenue this year.
According to UCSB employee Edward Woolfolk, who participated in the protests, students need to empower themselves and fight corruption within the UC system.
“Power and greed is everywhere. People need to wake up and start questioning authority,” Woolfolk said. “What’s going to be the future if we don’t take action now? Students need to focus on the fact that everything that has been won has been a struggle.”
Norma Orozco, a second-year sociology and global and international studies major who participated in the rally, said the group asked the surrounding student population to think about the future and how the situation could become worse if not dealt with immediately.
“You have to make yourself visible,” Orozco said. “Even if they don’t join you, they notice your presence and it makes them question [the system].”