Students gathered in front of the Oviatt Lawn yesterday with masking tape over their mouths. On the tape, phrases such as “Your Voice,” “My Voice” and “Our Voices” were written to symbolize the silence on campus against budget cuts.
Students for Quality Education (SQE) organized the event which began at noon. The tape covering each of the participant’s mouths was used as a metaphor to symbolize the silence on campus. Although this was a silent protest, students were encouraged to walk up to the open microphone and share their personal struggles.
Lilia Tejeda, a psychology major with a minor in Spanish, spoke in front of the microphone and said that because of the budget cuts she was forced to change her schedule, and now she is on campus for over 12 hours. This is especially hard for her since she uses public transportation to get to school.
She also shared how difficult it was for her to add a class she needed this semester.
“I was competing with six or seven other people for the same spot. What hopes did I have? My story is not that tragic, but I know there are more tragic stories,” said Tejeda, who was wearing tape over her mouth that had “Your Voice” written on it.
She recalled how her Spanish professor told her class that one of his students needed only one more semester to graduate. This student had to drop out of CSUN because they could no longer afford the 33 percent increase in tuition.
Tejeda stood with several students behind a large banner that read, “Don’t be Silenced Because Silence is Defeat.”
Dora Orozco, a graphic design major, came to represent other students like her who weren’t lucky enough to add the classes they needed.
“We’re all students and we should all try to make a difference. I couldn’t add English 155 because it was full, so I am still a freshman. I came to show support for the rest of the students,” Orozco said.
Other students like senior Jasmine Navarro were not directly affected by the budget cuts but showed up to support friends and family who were.
“I am here to honor those who were affected,” Navarro said. “Lots of my friends stopped coming to school because they couldn’t afford the tuition anymore. AB 540 students can’t afford tuition. My sister is also coming here next year, so I also want to help support her.”
Not all students who showed up to the protest arrived with the intent to support a loved one. Koko Berejiklian, a business management major, said he came as an assignment from one of his Chicano studies classes, but left with a better understanding of what students need to do to create change. He said that after listening to everything people said, he now knows how important it is for everyone to speak up.
“I remember when they had the confessional booth on campus, that was a good idea too,” Berejiklian added. “People need to speak up because we need to make school a priority again and stop worrying about working to pay off tuition.”
Students are organizing themselves to voice their frustrations about the budget cuts in front of the State Capitol.
“We are planning on taking students and faculty on buses to Sacramento. We need a large number of students and faculty for a change to be effective,” said Ernesto Casillas, a communications major.