Students and faculty unite for education rally

Students and faculty got together on March 4, 2010 to protest
tuition increases (above photo). Students and faculty will
meet again Nov. 8 to “Rally for Education.”
Matt Weir / Collegian File Photo

Fresno State students, members of the California Faculty Association and other universities across California will band together Tuesday, Nov. 8, in order to “Rally for Education.”

The rally is focused on getting student involvement in and recognition for the increases in student tuition, as well as continuous pay cuts.

Occupy Fresno is also working closely with the rally as the two groups have similar goals, Fresno State alumni and rally organizer Jesus Mendoza said.

“We want to highlight the issues,” Mendoza said. “Including the $2.5 billion that students will see in budget cuts this December.

“These cuts will be passed on to the students, families, parents and workers,” he continued. “In general we just want to get this point across.”

One of the students participating in the event is Camile Duria, a senior at Fresno State.

“I feel like with the tuition increases, this is something that really affects me,” Duria said. “If the tuition keeps going up, I won’t be able to continue going to school, especially if I want to go to grad school.”

Duria got involved in the rally when someone in her social policy class brought it up as a project idea. Duria then began doing independent research into some of the education and tuition bills passed by legislators in California.

“One of the bills is SB181: post secondary student fee policy,” Duria said. “We’d like to bring this to people’s attention because it says we must be warned three months in advance of any fee increases.”

One of the other bills the group is interested in is SB 70, which would increase the cost per unit in community colleges. Students will see an increase in cost from $26 per unit to $36 per unit, Duria said.

“When they voted on it, it had to be passed with a majority rule,” she said. “There was only one person who voted against it. Hopefully with the rally, we can bring this to the attention of students and people will change their minds.”

The rally will start at noon in the Free Speech Area at Fresno State. The rally hopes to have multiple keynote speakers, Mendoza said. Of these speakers will be Dr. Lisa Weston of the English department and chair of the California Faculty Association.

In an interview for a prior article, Weston explained her displeasure with the workload increase that teachers have been experiencing.

“We’d like to see a rational workload. That will allow us to teach the students as we think best, rather than what’s efficient,” Weston said. “In terms of the budget, during tough times, it would be a good idea to see more money go into the classrooms rather than new, creative and wonderful initiatives.”

Mendoza hopes to see between 250 and 300 students taking part at the rally.

“We really just want to bring awareness to those students on campus who don’t see what is happening and to those off campus who may be interested in helping,” Mendoza said. “We want people to see this social and economic issue that is facing the community. And we want to get the attention of the executive administrators and those people at the state level.”

Mendoza is part of an organization known as Community for a New California, which helps with multiple projects and issues relating to the community.

“Right now we are working on a project called ‘Refund California,’ and it’s a coalition to achieve tax fairness,” Mendoza said. “Occupy Fresno has been really supportive through all of this. Everything we stand for runs parallel to their organization.”

One of the points that Mendoza stressed was the proposal to merge the Social Sciences and Arts and Humanities colleges at Fresno state.

“This is nothing positive for the university,” Mendoza said. “It will impact the students in major ways, such as staff cuts and class reductions.”

The rally is part of a statewide week of action throughout California and includes movements such as the Occupy Wall Street-inspired “Move Your Money Day.”

On Nov. 16, Mendoza and other members of Community for a New California will be attending a meeting with the University of California group in Long Beach, where students will learn more about the impending effects of the budget cuts on the UC system.