May 27, 2020

March on Sacramento

ASI organized the group of 35 Fresno State students who traveled to Sacramento for the march on Monday.
Heather Billings / The Collegian

Fresno State students rallied at the state capitol Monday alongside over 2,000 other California students in protest of the governor’s proposed budget cuts that would take $1 billion from the three California college systems.

If the budget cuts are approved, the California State University (CSU) system stands to lose $386 million, which could result in a 10 percent tuition increase and 10,000 students being denied admission into the CSU system, according to the California State Student Association (CSSA).

Heather Billings / The Collegian

“It is a catch-22 for the governor because he is cutting the very systems that will only help the economy,” said CSSA Board Chair Dina Cervantes. “For every $1 invested in the CSU there is a $4.41 return as students graduate and enter the workforce.”

Cervantes said that it is important for students to get involved, like they did Monday, so their voices are heard.

“When it comes to elected officials, you either need money or a big group and that is why it’s important for students to join together,” Cervantes said.

Students voiced their opinions by chanting, “kick us out, we’ll vote you out,” as they marched from Raley Field, through downtown Sacramento and onto the steps of the Capitol. Lieutenant Governor John Garamendi marched with the students and gave a speech once they reached the Capitol building.

“Let’s get real. There is no more important investment than the investment in students,” Garamendi said. “We will build roads, we will build trains, but the most important things to build are the minds of students.”

Other speakers included representative Devin Nunes and students from various UCs, CSUs and community colleges.

“You know who owns this building?” said one speaker. “You do. And it should benefit you.”

Junior Sarait Martinez helped Associated Students, Inc. (ASI) organize the Fresno State bus trip to Sacramento in which 35 students participated. When they arrived, they made signs that read, “Restore the $386 million” and “No Budget Cuts.”

“It was like a flashback to the ‘60s with all the students marching and chanting and holding signs,” Martinez said.

Students Califonia colleges and even high schools all marched together in protest. If the cuts are approved, $332 million would be cut from the UC budget and the community college system would lose $418 million.

Students in Los Angeles, San Diego, Riverside and Santa Barbara also held protest rallies on Monday, but none as large as the one in Sacramento.

Sonya Cosby, a recreation and leisure and linguistics double major, said that too many students complain about the cuts without doing anything to stop them.

“I felt like the goal for this march was to tell senators and the governor that we’re not just full of hot air,” Cosby said. “We do care, we will take action and this was showing our action.”

Junior Whitney Thompson attended the protest in Sacramento and has helped organize another protest this Friday at Fresno State.

It will begin at 11:30 a.m. by the fountain and will culminate at the Free Speech Area, where members of the faculty and ASI will urge students to write letters to legislators and make phone calls to the governor.

“Last year we found out about another budget cut and after we made 1,000 calls, it wasn’t approved, so this does make a difference,” Thompson said.

Students throughout California have planned other protests, including a possible CSU-wide walkout for May 1.

“The protest was really big and it got me excited and made me want to work on this even more,” said ASI senator Megan Crabtree, who attended the march.

For the coalition Students for California’s Future, the march in Sacramento was just the beginning to an intense lobbying campaign.

“We want to make sure that legislators know this is important to us and that we are not going to give up until we get our way,” said Stephanie Chan, the coalition’s coordinator.

Some of the protestors from Fresno State also attended the California Higher Education Student Summit (CHESS) Conference in Sacramento last weekend, where they got to voice their concerns directly to legislators and staff members.

ASI Executive Vice President Stephen Trembley attended the conference and said that students were given the opportunity to tell legislators how the budget cuts could directly impact them, their friends and family members

“Students were really passionate about finding different ways to really utilize the power of coming to Sacramento, lobbying and stating their viewpoints all in a constructive way,” Trembley said.

Additional reporting by Heather Billings

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