Staff Editorial: A sliver of activism brightens CSUN


Photo Credit: Katie Chavarin / Staff Photographer
Photo Credit: Katie Chavarin / Staff Photographer

The other day in class I witnessed something I have never seen in the four years of my college life. It happened during what I expected to be a three-hour lecture about media law when a student from our class received permission from the professor to speak to us about something that affects us all: the budget cuts.

This came as a surprise to me because other than the occasional one-day rallies or a week at ‘Vent at the Tent,’ not many students on campus have stood up to protest like the hundreds of students at the University of California, Los Angeles or California State University, Long Beach.

It is no surprise that CSUN alone has been forced to cut $41 million from our budget resulting in the reduction of 2009-10 student enrollment, classes offered and instructors, plus faculty and staff furloughs.

That day in class was the first spark of student activism against the budget cuts. Before then, we had the Vent at the Tent, which was supposed to relieve us of our complaints, followed by protesters outside the library for one day.

What surprised me about this student and the group he represents, Coalition of Students and Teachers (C.O.S.T.), was that he came prepared with flyers detailing the impact of the budget cuts and a prepared letter addressed to our district attorney with a space for our signature at the bottom and his time to answer questions.

Our campus has had a long history of student activism, dating back to the 1960’s when ethnic minority students were fighting for an increase in enrollment of minority students and demanding more classes be offered pertaining to their history.

In 1969, nearly 300 students were arrested during an “Open Forum,” in which students had set up a space for other students to congregate and talk openly.

The result of these demonstrations and boycotts created a monumental change in our education, by giving birth to the Pan African studies and Chicana and Chicano studies programs.

And later, in 1970, CSUN began to change the architecture of the campus to make it more accessible for people with disabilities after pressure began to mount from students and veterans returning from the Vietnam War.

Today, some of those programs that our predecessors fought to implement are being threatened by the budget cuts, creating a greater reason for students to stand up and take action.

Many of you might have already seen the flyers hanging outside your classes, with information about what you can do to take action and ways to join other students.

But for other students such as myself, this is a moment of realization that although CSUN is a commuter campus in which only a small percentage of students ever get involved, it brings hope that the long standing coma of student activism has finally begun to see a twitch of movement that might one day produce a wave of action that would make our student ancestors proud.