Students and Faculty Rally in State Capital
Thousands march through Sacramento
March 17, 2004 6:18 PM
“I think it’s great, all of these students out here voicing their opinion, I just hope somebody inside hears it,” said Alonzo Greene, a College of Sisques student, referring to about 5,000 students rallying at the doors of California’s state capital building on Monday.
All the signs of hope and optimism were present as students arrived in buses and cars at Raley Field in West Sacramento, marched in protest across the gold-painted Tower Bridge, and arrived at a sunny courtyard facing the Capitol. The one who was not present was the perpetrator of the crowd’s accusations of raising student fees and “shutting doors” to college campuses—Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.
Students and teachers voiced many of their frustrations through heart felt speeches and creatively worded signs. “Education is our right not a privilege,” read one. “Hey Arnold, keep education affordable,” read another.
California State University students played an active role in the demonstration to represent the struggles that budget cuts are bringing to their own campuses. But they also came for support of their colleagues, many of whom are in the same position as CSU students once were in previous semesters—attending community colleges in hopes of transferring to state universities in order to complete their higher education.
According to the CSU Web site, every year the CSU system enrolls about 50,000 new transfer students from California community colleges. Under the California Education Code, CSU's top admission priority is transfer students from the state's community colleges. In fact, two-thirds of all incoming CSU students are transfer students.
“We’re here to show the community colleges we’re with them and we understand their struggles,” said Claudia Solis, a freshman at Sacramento State, “We’re fighting for the same cause. “
As Solis and her friend Laura Kerr held signs on the sidelines of the march, Kerr explained the importance of protecting higher education. California has a world-class education, and the governor shouldn’t walk away from that, said Kerr.
“California is known world wide for its top quality universities at a low price,” said Kerr, a political science graduate from Humboldt State.
Affordability was a main theme of the day, as many of the speakers mentioned the important role that community colleges play in their futures.
“We are your middle and low income families and you are representing us,” said a demonstrator from the stage.
"A lot of us can't afford to pay expensive tuition," said Bobbi Hogue, a student from Merced College. We should still be able to afford the right to receive a higher education, she said.
"I can't afford a private school and I am working too much to be at a university, but that doesn't mean I don't care about my future," said Hogue.
Doug Biggert, a community college student working at the gift shop across the street from the capital said this was one of the best demonstrations he had seen because of the amount of people.
“We see a lot of demonstrations around here,” he said, “the representation at this one is good and hopefully there will be a response.”
Amanda Cue, a graduate student at SF State was at the protest to represent the fee increases for grad students, which will be raised by 40 percent with non-matching financial aid.
The budget cuts are making it more difficult for grad students and for students who already have bachelor’s degrees to continue their education because the costs are unreasonable and won’t be supported by financial aid, she said.
Schwarzanegger’s proposed 2004/05 budget will cut $240 million from the CSU system, raise student fees for undergraduates by 10 percent and graduates by 40 percent.
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