The Daily Californian Online

Slow Start to Campus Protest

By Katie Nelson
Daily Cal Staff Writer
Wednesday, March 2, 2011
Category: News > University > Higher Education

Low participation numbers and bad weather have so far plagued UC Berkeley activists' attempt to have solid participation in the statewide day of action for public education.

Though protest organizers had said teach-outs would begin at 8 a.m. this morning, only a few popped up outdoors around campus amid the cold and drizzly weather. French graduate student instructor Blanca Misse, one of the few to hold a teach-out, said this may have been due to the weather.

"There's a lack of visibility, but things are still happening," she said in regard to the morning's lack of teach-outs. "Many teachers chose to stay in because of the rain, but I'm not the only one who took their students out."

Misse took her small group of students to the Free Speech Movement Cafe at about 10 a.m. and had them sit outside to discuss the impacts of past and potential budget cuts as well as how international protests could be related back to the statewide movement today.

The campus protest continued to remain slow as small crowds gathered in front of Doe Library and Sproul Hall around noon.

Though both groups were gathering to speak out on similar issues regarding the fate of higher education, bad blood between March 2 organizing groups such as BAMN and CUE led to fractured efforts to unite in a demonstration on Upper Sproul Plaza, which ultimately garnered around 100 students.

"It is a known thing that if you want to mobilize on campus you don't go with BAMN," said campus administrative assistant and UC Berkeley alumnus Juan Garcia. "Going into a few weeks before this, no one had reserved (Upper Sproul) and (BAMN) just sort of swooped in and beat us to the punch. It was shady."

After an hour-long rally on the steps of Sproul Hall, college, high school and middle school students as well as union organizers marched through campus, including through Doe Library and Wheeler Hall.

"When I was little I was told I was the future," said seventh grader Mason Gutierrez from Martin Luther King Middle School in Berkeley, during the rally. "Now my future as an artist may be taken away."

Though a resistance picnic was planned to be on Memorial Glade at 1 p.m., poor weather conditions forced marchers to congregate on the seventh floor of Eshleman Hall. However, the space was not reserved for the event. Campus event services said the group could have the room until 3:30 p.m., but if they do not leave by 4 p.m. campus police would be called.

While enjoying a potluck lunch, students and other protest participants held workshops on how to tackle Gov. Jerry Brown's potential $1.4 billion dollar cut to higher education.

"I think what's happening at the university is affecting the class anyway in their ability to be in the class and their ability to do work," said Larisa Mann, a legal studies GSI. "They are in debt and working and struggling due to the messed up priorities of the university."

Protesters said they will remain in Eshleman Library until 3:30 p.m. and then make their way to the front of Wheeler Hall where they will meet with other Bay Area campuses.

Kate Randle and Jessica Rossoni of The Daily Californian contributed to this report.

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