On Mar. 4, a contingent of 5-C students joined a rally in Riverside to protest recent cuts to the California budget for public institutions of higher education.
Sam Gordon PO ’11 and Alvin Sangsuwangul PO ’10 worked together to bring Claremont students to the rally. They gathered a group of about 20 students to join the crowds of approximately 400 protestors on the campus of University of California, Riverside. The rally began on campus and then moved to downtown Riverside.
The gathering was one of many demonstrations throughout the state and across the country on the “Day of Action,” the aim of which was to express dissatisfaction with California education policy and reforms. The rally was a result of a decision made at last October’s Mobilizing Conference to Save Public Education at the University of California, Berkeley, which was organized as a response to drastic tuition increases. In the time between the conference and the rally, several smaller protests have been held on UC and California State University campuses.
Funding for all levels of public education in California is currently being severely reduced, leading to faculty and staff layoffs, programming cuts, and tuition increases. State grant and scholarship money is also being limited.
The cutbacks will affect the same poor communities that are often already negatively affected by environmental justice issues such as excessive pollution and toxic sites, Gordon wrote in an email. He added that the funding limitations likely increase the education rift along income and race lines.
Although the cuts do not directly affect students attending private institutions, Gordon said he felt it was important to stand in solidarity with the students who are affected.
He said there was a lot of energy at the event, as well as a “sense of outrage from the UC students; the threat seemed very real to them, so they were taking it very seriously.”
There were student and faculty speakers at the rally, as well as music and chanting.
Gordon said he was glad Claremont students joined the rally to “show that all students can care,” and that it was “meaningful to have the presence of more students being there…in protests, people need support to embolden them to take action.”
Simultaneous protests were held on almost all of the CSU and UC campuses, as well as on some campuses across the nation, since many other state governments are also considering education cuts as a response to the economic situation.