Thousands Protest Soaring Education Cuts in California, 72 Arrested
Thousands of students railed against soaring education costs and cuts at the Capitol building in California yesterday, where 72 people were arrested.
The groups of students, activists and supporters began with a rally outside the Capitol before beginning a 7-hour occupation of the building. The Daily Californian reports:
The occupation followed a rally on the Capitol building’s steps in which thousands of protesters from across the state called for lawmakers to end the recent trend of decreased funding to the state’s public higher education systems.
The rally, which was supported by UC Berkeley administrators and the UC Student Association, among others, featured speakers from the UC, California State University, California Community Colleges and public office.
“You cannot have an economic development strategy without a workforce development strategy that includes higher education,” Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom said at the rally. “We can’t just talk about it. We have to do something about it in this state.”
The student speakers called on state legislators to provide alternative measures to increase state investment in public university systems.
“Budget cuts and fee increases have made it harder and harder for students of color (to get an education),” said ASUC Senator Sydney Fang at the rally. “It is time for the state legislature to stand up with us.”
The San Francisco Chronicle reports that "education's 99%" oppose Gov. Jerry Brown's budget cuts that would affect financial aid for students:
But unlike the basic "no cuts" message brought to the Capitol every March, education's 99 percent have a specific agenda this year.
They want two measures to qualify for the statewide ballot in November: the so-called millionaires tax, an income tax hike on the state's highest earners; and Proposition 1522, an oil-extraction tax, both of which supporters say would raise billions of dollars for public education.
They oppose a plan by Gov. Jerry Brown to make it harder for low-income students to quality for financial aid under the Cal Grant program. The Cal Grant cut, part of Brown's budget proposal for the 2012-13 fiscal year, is meant to help close the state's $9.2 billion budget deficit.
"All you are saying is you want the millionaires and the billionaires to pay California back!" activist Van Jones, president of Rebuild the Dream, which works on ideas to rebuild the economy, told cheering students who had bused in from colleges and universities around the state and filled the western lawn of the Capitol for the late-morning rally.
"Pay us back! Pay us back!" they yelled back.
— kenyaw (@kenyaw) March 5, 2012
The Los Angeles Times reports that tuition has tripled at the state universities over the last decade.
Video below shows students some of the students, who were engaged in non-violent civil disobedience, being arrested: