The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

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Students protest at governor’s visit

“Hey hey, ho ho, tuition increase has got to go!”

“Hey Arnold, what do you say? How many students have you cut today?!”

These are some of the phrases dozens of demonstrators chanted yesterday at Plaza del Sol at noon to protest against the 10 percent tuition increase proposed for CSUs and UCs while Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger spoke inside the performance hall.

“Our demonstration calls out the fee increases that (Schwarzenegger) is proposing,” said Marcos Zamora, 22, president of MEChA and an organizer with Students Together Against Raising Tuition. “We want to stop the increases.”

The protest was organized by START, a coalition of students created earlier this month from various campuses within the CSU system, to create awareness about the increase of tuition fees and the decrease in the budget for higher education.

“Ultimately because of the drain of the war, they want to redirect the focus on issues like education or immigration,” said Johnny Ramirez, 32, an activist with MEChA and START. “They want to say, ‘That’s where the budget is being expended,’ when in actuality we are spending trillions of dollars to maintain in a war that the majority of Americans don’t want to be in anymore.”

The demonstrators gathered at the Chicana/o House at 11:45 a.m. and marched through campus, passing Sierra Quad and entering Jerome Richfield Hall before going to Plaza del Sol, where they were joined by more students.

Salvador Sanchez, 24, a graduating history and Chicana/o Studies major, said, “If I wasn’t supported by financial aid and CalGrants…I could not get the quality the education I’m getting and I could not bring it back to my community.”

“It’s our responsibility as students to organize and raise our voices that we are against a tuition increase,” said Alma de Jesus, 25, a student senator from the College of Humanities. “I think we should educate ourselves and find solutions together.”

Among the demonstrators, some faculty members joined students to show their discontent with the tuition increases.

“I was once a student and I like to support their cause,” said Celia Simmonds, a Central American Studies department professor.

“I’ve been watching the dismantling of the public education system and I’m not with it. I’m here to protest it,” said Sirena Pellarolo, a professor in the Modern and Classical Languages and Literature Department. “They are disempowering the working class youth because they want us in the military, they want us flipping hamburgers and we are not going to take that.”

“We are also opressed as faculty. Our salaries are really lagging, while you see that the administrators earn like CEOs of big corporations,” she added.

Isabel Herrera, professor at the Chicana/o Studies Department, said that she protested because her students motivated her.

“I want to see that there’s equal opportunity for everyone to come and attend a Cal State university,” Herrera said. “Think of the effect this is going to have in everyone, even teachers. There’s going to be a freeze on hiring teachers,” Herrera added.

For Rosa Furumoto, professor at the Chicana/o Studies Department, it is important for faculty members to show their support to students because an under funded education is going to affect everyone equally.

“I’m really concerned about students not being able to come to school because they can’t afford the increased tuition, the cost of books is so high?I’d like to show my support for the students,” she said.

Although dozens of students joined the demonstration at Plaza del Sol, the majority of people present agreed that student misinformation and disinterest are two of the causes for the continuous fee hikes.

“I think it’s a lack of student awareness,” said Ramirez. “I think a lot of times students stay in their own world (where) everything is stable and they’re not going to feel or identify when other folks are struggling.”

For some of the demonstrators, it is not only the students’ responsibility to protest, but also to organize until they get what they want.

“In order to have a bigger impact we would need to shut down the university, have more solidarity with other students and send a clear message that we are against fee hikes,” said Jaime Aguilera, 35, a Chicana/o Studies major.

“It’s kind of like with gas prices. If everybody decided to boycott, they’d be all on their knees,” said Antoinate Wall, a Northridge resident who was walking her dog during the protest. “This creates a bigger separation…because the rich kids are going to go to school no matter what, but it keeps the poor people poor…The middle class is going away.”

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