Chicano/a studies department holds walkout and teach-in to protest furloughs and tuition increase

Kimberly Krieger

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Johnny Castillo, freshman undeclared major and Joana Revolorio, freshman sociology major, carry scissors among the crowd to protest education budget cuts during March for Education at CSUN put on by the Chicano Studies Department Wednesday. Sarah Smith / Staff Photographer

Students and faculty in the Chicano/a studies department held a walkout and teach-in event Wednesday to raise awareness of the increasing budget cuts and faculty layoffs.

David Rodriguez, chair of the Chicano/a studies department, and Theresa Montaño, co-chair of the California Faculty Association (CFA) and associate professor in Chicano/a studies, said they began organizing the event less than a month ago.

“We saw it as an opportunity to one, protest, and two, teach,” said Montaño, who is also an associate professor in Chicano/a studies.

The walkout started at 9:30 a.m. with a march around the perimeter of campus that ended up on the lawn between Bayramian Hall and Jerome Richfield Hall.

Keynote speakers included Rodriguez, Montaño, Luis Miranda of Movimiento Estudiantil Chicano de Aztlan (MEChA) and Audrena Redmond, a representative of the CFA.

“This is what Chicano studies is about,” Montaño said in her speech. “This is what Chicano studies was founded on.”

Montaño said that more demonstrations are needed on campus in order to ensure students get quality education.

“We want to make sure that what our parents fought for remains,” Montaño added.

As participants marched, they chanted, “Ain’t no power like the power of the students, because the power of the students won’t stop.”

After the march, professors held workshops on the lawn, which included topics that addressed the issues on campus and problems in Haiti.

Senior Abraham Ramirez, 22, a Chicano/a studies major, said he found out about the event through his professor, Dr. Rudy Acuña.

Ramirez said he thinks it is necessary for students to be here after an overall 60 percent increase in tuition.

“It diverts our attention to trying to pay for (school), as opposed to other resources we could use,” Ramirez added.

Ramirez said the entire department scheduled furloughs on the day of the protest in solidarity. Ramirez also added he heard the department proposed the furlough day to the teacher’s union, but the union rejected the idea.

Professor Renee Moreno, who teaches full-time in the Chicano/a studies department, found out about the event two weeks ago.

Moreno said the 10 percent budget cut affected her life and the situation is supposed to get worse next fall.

“I hope we call more attention to the fact that education is being cut drastically,” Moreno said. “I think students have really suffered.”

Christian Sanchez, who has yet to declare a major, attended the walkout and teach-in after hearing about it in his Chicano/a studies history class.

Sanchez, 18, said the goals of the protest were to gain more class time and less furlough days.

“We’re paying all of this money, and we’re not even getting what we need,” Sanchez said.

Edna Alvarado, a psychology major, showed up at the event because this was where her Chicano/a studies 401 class would take place for the day.

“We needed to take part in it so we could voice our opinions about the situation,” Alvarado, 21, said.

Although Alvarado participated in the march because of a class, she said that if she had time, she would have come out to protest anyway.

“We are getting robbed of our education,” Alvarado said.

Sophomore James Burk, 19, a business administration major, came to the protest because of a Chicano/a studies class he just added last week. Burk said he thinks the event is a good thing and hopes it is effective.

“It’s cutthroat, because there are a lot of kids who want the same class,” Burk said. “You have to sell yourself so that professors can want you in the class.”

Redmond said more protests in education facilities will happen on March 4, when CSUN will meet up with Monroe High School in a collective effort.

“We need you and we need you to bring 10 of your friends,” Redmond said. “Education is under attack.”