Statewide protests planned for March 4

A march and a rally, reminiscent of last semester’s walkout, to take place Thursday

Some students, faculty, staff and members of the community will be participating in a planned march and rally on Thursday.

The march and rally, on March 4, are part of a statewide day of action planned by students, unions and educators from all levels of higher education – community colleges, California State Universities (CSU) and Universities of California.

The day’s events are a response to the state’s cuts from educational budgets. Fresno State saw a cut of $44.6 million at the beginning of the 2009-10 scholastic year.

Senior sociology major Matt Ford, one of the event’s organizers, said the demonstration has garnered support from labor unions, student groups and community members such as the United Farm Workers, Journey for Justice, Students for Quality Education and the local chapters of the California State University Employees Union and the California Faculty association (CFA).

Ford said, unlike last October’s walkout, this event would not come with demands for the administration.

“That’s kind of a dead-end road,” Ford said.

However, the event will be the unveiling of an academic constitution. Ford said the document is in its early stages, and still needs input from as many students as possible.

ASI senator Jamie San Andres, another organizer for the March 4 events, said students and community members have been meeting at least weekly since December to plan Thursday’s demonstration.

San Andres said her group reached out to community colleges and high schools in an effort to drum up support. She also said the university should be a place for social change.

“We believe that the university is a public asset,” San Andres said.

San Andres said the budget issues are threefold. She said the country spends too much money on the war in Iraq, the state does not allocate enough money for education and what she sees as the CSU’s lack of a democratic structure leads to poor fiscal planning.

“[The CSU] has demonstrated their inability to respond proactively to the budget cuts,” San Andres said.

Statewide coordinator Eric Benjamin, a history major at San Francisco City College, held educational meetings on Feb. 24 to spread the word on the day of action. He said every year California spends $7,500 per student and $47,000 per prisoner.

“The money and resources exist,” Benjamin said. “They’re just not being used for education.”

The march will begin at 10:30 a.m. at the corner of Blackstone and Shaw avenues. A bus will pick students up outside of the Science II building to escort them to the starting point.

The rally will take place in the Peace Garden at 11 a.m., and the marchers will join the rally at noon.

Lisa Weston, president of the local chapter of the CFA, is one of many speakers planned for Thursday. She said representatives for K-12 education will also participate.

“We are doing this to make very public the necessity of increased support for education in California,” Weston said.

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