Bay Area students are gathering today to protest rising tuition costs and state budget cuts to public education in a wave of demonstrations at campuses up and down California.
The protests are part of a “National Day of Action to Defend the Right to Education” called by student organizations and members of the Occupy movement.
In California, the protests are the latest in a series of demonstrations over the lack of funding for public education in the state, which has resulted in dramatic fee increases for public universities in recent years.
Protesters intend to march on the state Capitol in Sacramento on Monday as well, and students are organizing to send busloads of protesters to the event.
One of today’s most ambitious actions began at 4:30 a.m., when students at the University of California at Santa Cruz gathered intending to shut down the campus for the day.
They have effectively done so, causing class cancellations and scaled-back services as faculty and staff are unable to get to work.
The actions in Santa Cruz are scheduled to go on all day, and will include a rally at noon followed by a “Tent University” in which students and faculty will hold teach-ins and workshops on topics ranging from foreclosures to gender issues to Marxism.
There are musical performances scheduled throughout the afternoon and protesters will watch a screening of the movie “Brazil” in the evening.
Protesters at the University of California at Berkeley are holding their own open university this morning, and began gathering outside California Hall at 8 a.m.
A rally is planned in Sproul Plaza at noon, and then protesters are planning to march to Oakland’s Frank Ogawa Plaza to join an evening rally there at the site of the former Occupy Oakland camp.
At California State University Monterey Bay, protesters are holding an “Occupy Education” rally at noon followed by a march at 1:30 p.m. The rally will be held at Library Plaza at the corner of Divarty Street and Fifth Avenue.
The march will head to the Student Center on Inter-Garrison Road, where a teach-in will be held starting at 2 p.m.
At California State University East Bay in Hayward, protesters will hold a “People’s University” starting at noon. There will be faculty and student speakers and educational workshops throughout the afternoon, organizers said.
A “Reclaim SFSU” rally will be held at San Francisco State University starting at noon, followed by a march from Malcolm X Plaza.
Organizers of the SFSU event said the action is being held to improve the quality of education at the school, and reclaim a student voice in education.
Students at San Jose State University are planning a walkout at noon today, followed by a rally and march.
The rally will begin near Clark Hall and students will hold a “speak out” to tell their stories of struggling with the rising costs of tuition.
The protesters are then planning to march silently through the Student Services Center before gathering in front of Tower Hall in the afternoon.
In the North Bay, students at Sonoma State University will hold a “Reclaim the People’s University” event at noon today in Stevenson Quad.
The event will last throughout the day, starting with teach-ins, discussion circles and performances discussing cuts to departments, campus programs and the availability of student jobs.
Organizers said that university administration officials are intending to attend the events and discuss the students’ concerns.
There will also be a night event on the campus, with a concert featuring musical performances and speakers from 9 p.m. until midnight.
Students at Santa Rosa Junior College are planning to rally at 2 p.m. for a march to the Rattigan State Building at 50 D St.
There will be several Bay Area events held in solidarity with the campus events as well that have no direct association with a college or university.
In San Francisco, protesters will hold a teach-in and occupation at the California State Office Building at 455 Golden Gate Ave. before holding a rally in Civic Center Plaza at 4 p.m.
Occupy Oakland protesters are planning a rally in Frank Ogawa Plaza at 5 p.m.
Protesters from throughout the state will hold a larger, unified demonstration on Monday in Sacramento.
The “Occupy Education” rally will begin at 10 a.m. followed by a march to the state Capitol building. The daylong event will also feature nonviolent direct action training and another rally at the Capitol that evening.
Scott Morris, Bay City News