Campuses Plan Variety Of Walkout Activities

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As the UC Berkeley community prepares for a systemwide union strike and faculty walkout on Thursday, Sept. 24, other UC campuses are also organizing their own walkout activities.

For eight UC campuses, Sept. 24 marks the first day of instruction for the fall quarter, posing challenges for some organizers in informing campus communities about the upcoming systemwide walkout. UC Berkeley and UC Merced began classes on Aug. 26.

While students at the quarter-system campuses have not been in class, information about the walkout has reached many of them through Facebook groups and faculty e-mails.

UC Santa Cruz senior Justin Gilmore, creator of UC Santa Cruz's walkout Facebook page, said the walkout will be a "good way to start the quarter." Most campuses plan to hold rallies that will feature speeches by faculty, students and union workers.

Some of the campuses on the quarter system are also using their respective welcomeweeks to spread the word about the walkout. According to Christopher Santos, a junior at UCLA, organizers have been able to inform incoming freshmen and transfer students at welcome week events about the walkout, encouraging them to support it.

"We want to see a lot more engagement," Santos said. "It's going to be a big year for student activism."

Yet Gilmore, as well as other students, said they remain concerned about turnout at Thursday's events. Some students said they are worried that missing their first day of class would jeopardize their enrollment in their classes.

Gilmore said several professors at UC Santa Cruz are canceling class. There are, however, concerns about ensuring that incoming freshmen adjust to the university environment, and for this reason some faculty members have decided to hold class, he said.

In addition, at UC Merced and UC Berkeley, both of which began instruction last month, many students said they would miss midterms and important coursework if they decided to walk out on Thursday.

Still, the event has gained the support of a number of students, faculty and staff on campus. As of Monday, more than 1,000 UC faculty and 1,200 graduate students have signed online petitions showing their support for the walkout.

Although Thursday's event is known systemwide as the UC faculty walkout, some organizers said Sept. 24 is a "day of action" for the university, according to UC Santa Barbara English professor Aranye Fradenburg.

Fradenburg said the Santa Barbara campus will hold a series of tours, open houses and poetry readings to highlight the importance of an "accessible and affordable liberal arts education." She said the activities are aimed at convincing the UC Office of the President "to shift policy in a very sharp way."

"We don't believe that this was a necessary outcome of the economic downturn," Fradenburg said.

UC Riverside is another campus where organizers refer to the walkout as a "day of action" for the university, according to assistant professor of political science Karthick Ramakrishnan. He said the day is not just about protesting, but about pushing for the restoration of public support for the university.

UC Davis senior Julia Tachibana, creator of UC Davis' walkout Facebook page, said a letter written by UC Berkeley professor Catherine Cole influenced her to take a role in the walkout and hopes others will also get involved.

"I've been really pleased at the fact that a lot of my teachers support this," she said. "They wouldn't sign unless it was valuable to students."


Contact Stephanie Baer at [email protected]

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