Student activists walk out for working class
May 1, 2008 2:16 PM
Expect marching, chanting and a lot more open seats in class today as the Fight the Fees Campaign at SF State is walking out to protest potential fee increases in light of the city-wide May Day labor movement.
The group has been planning for a student walkout since early this semester. Efforts to raise awareness have included public rallies to build momentum to carry through to the fall semester, when fee protests are likely to continue, said Liset Mendoza, 19, a creative writing major participating in the walkout and the Fight the Fees Campaign.
May 1, celebrated as International Workers Day around the world, coincides with the spirit of the Fight the Fees Campaign, organizers said.
“The importance of demonstrating on May 1st is two-fold,” said Drew Van, a 22-year-old sociology major and campaign organizer. “One, leaving work and class behind and taking to the streets visually shows student solidarity with the working class as a whole.”
“Secondly,” he added, “it is an opportunity to seize a day of historical importance—which was created by average people standing up for their rights—and to stand up against the face of a system which is threatening to take $20-plus billion away from California’s neediest sections of society, including an already underfunded and undervalued education system.”
The Fight the Fees group rallied in early March and held a teach-in and a rally in the quad that led to a loud but peaceful march to the Administration building, as students chanted, “No cuts, no fees.”
The campaign has since held meetings regularly and gained support from staff and faculty members on and off campus. The group held a teach-in last week in preparation for today’s walkout, with guest speakers from City College of San Francisco, Galileo High School, SF State non-faculty staff, CSU Employees Union representative Russell Kilday-Hicks and Larry Salomon, a lecturer in the College of Ethnic Studies.
“We do the behind-the-scenes work,” Kilday-Hicks said at the teach-in. “It’s a sad fact that the longer you work here, the farther you fall behind.”
“On behalf of non-faculty staff,” said Kilday-Hicks in conclusion, “we literally feel your pain.”
The walkout is part of a series of campus events addressing the possible state budget cuts that stem from Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s proposition in January to cut $312.9 million from the CSU.
On April 30, the governor raised the stakes, saying the ballooning budget deficit could reach as much as $20 billion, up from the $14 billion that lawmakers had initially projected in April. The deficit has prompted Schwarzenegger to call for across-the-board cuts, including cuts to education, prisons and health services.
“For far too long we have remained in the closet, talking about how upset we are with the politicians, the environmental destruction, the violence, the dismal education system,” Van said. “This is a day to turn our frustrations into action.”
Supporters are expected to walk out of classrooms at noon and rally at Malcolm X Plaza. The congregation is planning to ride Muni and gather at Dolores Park, where it will begin a march to Civic Center.
“The goal is to show everyone there is a strong student unity on campus,” Mendoza said. “One of the important things is to show the power of student unity.”
POST A COMMENT
|BACK TO TOP|| |
Copyright © 2008 [X]press | Journalism Department - San Francisco State University