Education Activists Meet to Plan Future Protests

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Despite acknowledging waning support for the higher education activist movement, student organizers attempted to recoup from the relatively low turnout of last week's protest Thursday night by deliberating how best to rally student support.

At a meeting held in the Tilden room of the Martin Luther King Jr. Student Union building, organizers and supporters of the Oct. 7 protest gathered to plot the movement's future including a "pots and pans march" next week, a potential GSI strike on Nov. 1 and a yet-to-be-planned action at the UC Board of Regents meeting on Nov. 16-18.

"How are we going to reach out to the community this time? How are we going to be better?" said Marco Amaral a sophomore and member of the Student-Worker Action Team. "The truth is, we want change now because we need change now. We can't afford to have change occur in five or ten years. But organizing a movement is also a learning process. What do we have to do to spark people's interest? How do we make people care?"

While the recently passed state budget increased funding to the University of California by $370.4 million, the amount is still $237 million below 2007-08 levels.

The $637 million reduction in state funding in 2009-10 caused the campus to implement several cost-saving measures last year, including layoffs, fee increases, furloughs and a controversial streamlining initiative in collaboration with Bain & Company, providing the impetus for the protests.

The pots and pans march to Chancellor Robert Birgeneau's campus home on Oct. 21 would attempt to direct a specific message of discontent to the administration, according to meeting attendees. Organizers also discussed how best to educate the general public about the potential GSI strike on Nov. 1 to raise support for the protest.

While the protests have traditionally contained many different groups, including undergraduate and graduate students, faculty and staff, meeting organizers looked to emphasize the commonality between the different groups' causes.

"The right to an equitable, high quality and just education doesn't end with undergrads," said Ricardo Gomez, ASUC External Affairs vice president and protest organizer. "When one sector is under attack, we need to stand up and say that it's not okay."

Although it is still unclear what actions may be taken at the regent's meeting in November, several meeting attendees said protesters should focus on the regents, where decisions about potential fee increases are actually being made.

Meeting organizers hope that these varied strategies will continue to incite students to action.

"The turnout on Oct. 7 showed the clear, willing desire of the campus to fight back," said Claire Keating, a UC Berkeley alumna who has been active in the protests. "We're just now beginning to see the depth and breadth of the restructuring that's going to occur."


Contact Madeleine Key at [email protected]

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