Strike's Second Day Shows Lower Turnout

Photo: Demonstrators dumped a five-foot tall mound of trash bags outside the entrance of California Hall to protest university staff layoffs.
Anna Vignet/Photo
Demonstrators dumped a five-foot tall mound of trash bags outside the entrance of California Hall to protest university staff layoffs.

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Photo: Protests continued, albeit at a smaller scale, across campus Thursday, though the regents' passage of the fee increases has left some strikers unsure how to proceed.    

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The second day of a three-day systemwide strike protesting the passage of a 32 percent student fee increase was marked by decreased turnout.

The day's events-which included a noon rally, picket lines on campus and in Oakland, and a symbolic trash demonstration-coincided with the UC Board of Regents meeting at UCLA.

While the regents ultimately approved the fee increase, UC Berkeley freshman and striker Isabeth Mendoza said students need to continue protesting.

"It's still not over," she said. "The regents need to know we're serious. We're not going to take it."

However, the strike failed to generate the support seen at the Sept. 24 walkout or the Wednesday strike, which had about 1,000 supporters.

Only about 175 strikers marched to California Hall on Thursday at noon, where union members spoke out about furloughs, layoffs and fee increases.

"The state and the university has a responsibility to its students," said Joi Barrios-Leblanc, a campus lecturer who teaches Tagalog. "The students' role is to study and study well. They should not have to take the burden of the budget deficits."

A crowd of students and faculty returned to California Hall after the rally, piling bags of trash in front of the door and creating a mound of refuse about five feet high. Protesters said the action symbolized the decisions of the regents to lay off university staff, specifically janitors.

"We're tired of how (the administration is) treating us like trash," Mendoza said.

Though UCPD Lt. Alex Yao said the demonstration might be in violation of university policy, he said he respected the concerns of the protesters.

Protesters said Thursday's turnout was noticeably smaller than on the first day of the strike-a picket line at the UC Office of the President headquarters in Oakland garnered less than 10 strikers-but said supporters were still able to voice their anger and disappointment regarding layoffs and approved fee increases.

"There's the same sense of anger," said Nancy Reiko Kato, a member of University Professional and Technical Employees (UPTE) union and an employee at Boalt Hall School of Law. "People are pissed off."

Most rally participants said the small turnout did not reflect a lack of interest in the cause. Barrios-Leblanc said people were busy at other events-some at teach-ins or preparing for Friday's protest. In addition, UPTE Local 1 President Tanya Smith said holding the strike on multiple days may have affected turnout.

"Asking people to do two days of activities is a very difficult thing," she said.

Some strikers said they were unsure how to proceed after the announcement of the fee increases and said they would discuss further options at an assembly meeting Thursday afternoon.

About 80 students gathered in the courtyard of Dwinelle Hall to discuss short-term goals for the next two days, including the creation of a tent city and occupation of a campus building.

However, junior Taylor Kohles, an ethnic studies and political science double major, said she thought the meeting was disorganized, blaming the lack of coordination on the assembly's self-elected leaders.

Campus spokesperson Dan Mogulof said the participation of the protesters in the walkout was appropriate.

"There is no silver bullet to solve this crisis," Mogulof said. "It's important that people ... find areas of common ground to address the root cause of the situation we're in and that is the state's disinvestment of higher education."


Contact Mollie Bloudoff-Indelicato and Melody Ng at [email protected]

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