Walkout Organizers Intend to Keep up Fight
May 21, 2004 4:03 PM
With many deeming last week’s campuswide student walkout a success, SF State students will continue to plan events to keep up the fight against the school’s budget cuts.
The walkout, which originated after a town hall meeting April 29 turned into an emotional meeting full of outburst and speeches from students decrying the budget cuts, started out at Malcolm X Plaza on the morning of May 12. From there, an estimated 1,500 students marched all over campus, chanting from building to building before returning to the plaza for discussion on the situation.
Although the protesters represent a small percentage of SF State's more than 28,000 students, and despite what some say was low media coverage and little success, demonstration organizers say they will keep pushing against the budget cuts.
“I think it was highly successful. It was a good demonstration to show how students are against the budget cuts. It was educational for the students on campus, because it made them aware of just how much is being cut. We got our message across, and we showed the state we will defend our education,” she said.
Kirya Traber, 19, agreed that the walkout was successful. The physiology major and International Socialist member said the walkout “was a great first step in the right direction. The turnout was larger than expected, which is good. After this, I hope Governor Schwarzenegger is shaking in his boots now.”
Arroyo felt the walkout was important to have because students need to show a unified front against the cuts.
“We can’t allow this to happen. I’m upset that (California State University Chancellor) Reed sold out the CSUs,” she said, referring to the deal the governor struck with the CSU and the University of California.
The public universities agreed not to fight budget cuts now in return for long-term financial stability later. In the governor’s May revision of the state budget, undergraduate students will pay 10 percent more in fees over three years while graduate students will pay about a 20 percent increase. The governor also abandoned plans to cut about $30 million from outreach programs.
The school realizes that students are frustrated with the budget cuts. “We know students are angered by what’s happening and that they need outlets for that anger,” conceded Christina Holmes, SF State's spokesperson. “Although the school would prefer that students go to class, they have a choice to do what they did.”
Holmes also felt the walkout was successful. “The students were able to get their voices heard and be safe. That was important.”
Some students, however, felt the protest was not a success. Sebastian Zavala, President of Student Kounsel for InterTribal Nations (SKINS), thought more media coverage was needed to make the walkout a hit. “I watched the TV news all night after the walkout, and no station carried a story about it. The whole point of the walkout was to make noise, to get attention. The media just didn’t capture it, so it didn’t do what it was supposed to do.”
Even though others didn’t call the walkout a success, Arroyo and other SF State students will continue to plan events dealing with the cuts. “A student coalition is slowly starting to build. We will try and get out the word on what’s happening, to keep the network going,” Arroyo said.
Along with creating “response teams,” the loose network of students will keep others informed about meetings the administration will have over the summer. “The administration makes a lot of their decisions in the summer months, so we feel it’s important for us to go to those meetings and be heard,” Arroyo said.
The next meeting the student network will have, to officially assess what actions should be taken next, will be at 2 p.m. Thursday, May 20, in Room C-112 of the Student Center.
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