Campus Unites to Save EOP
February 23, 2004 6:05 PM
They are young; they are active; and they are in no way ready to accept the effect state budget cuts will have on student assistance programs at SF State.
Students and faculty rallied to promote the Educational Opportunities Program (EOP) and protest the effects of state budget cuts on student outreach services today in Malcolm X Plaza. The gathering drew as many as 300 students, who listened to student speeches, spoken word performances and music.
State budget proposals threaten a complete elimination of EOP, a student services organization currently servicing more than 2,400 students at SF State. The program was designed for low-income and educationally disadvantaged students who individually receive an average of $745 in grant money each year.
“This is turning one of the most affordable public universities into one of the most expensive,” said Kirya Traber, 19, a psychology student. “The low cost is why we have such a diverse campus. People of color can actually afford to go here.”
The rally was significant in scope for bringing together a diversity of voices as well as campus organizations. According to EOP representatives, such an event has not accomplished as much since the early 1990s.
“We need to come together, or they will take everything away,” said Rakita O’Neal, 20, a psychology major at SF State.
Many of the speakers stressed the need for unity on campus to overcome state assistance and funding issues.
“How do we call ourselves tomorrow’s leaders if we are not willing to fight today? We’re walking around like we got here ourselves when the reality check is that somebody had to get beaten for us to be here,” said Asa Randolph, 23, a Black Studies major. “Now they’re going to take it away? Oh no, not on my watch!”
A common reference that echoed in many of the speeches was of student strikes during 1968 over racial tension and student unrest, which led to the closing of campus for a week. Confrontations -- some of them violent -- between students and faculty and police caused the closing of campus, according to information from SF State's library.
Student speakers called the campus to action, suggesting several different ways to get involved and take back student services, like EOP. Among the ideas mentioned were marches in Sacramento, writing to legislators, attendance at other events on campus, campus dialogue and awareness.
“It’s amazing how many people don’t know what’s going on,” one student said.
Banners lined the stage in Malcolm X Plaza reading, “They’ve got money for war, but can’t feed the poor,” and, “Oh no you didn’t mess with the EOP.”
“The importance of this rally is equity and access for the poor and working class,” said Aimee Barnes, program development officer for the Richard Oaks Multicultural Center. “The history of EOP spans 30 years. It’s an effective program and has contributed to the economy of California and to the world, opening the doors to higher education that may never have been open.”
» The Educational Opportunity Program Find out more about EOP and apply here
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