SJSU students join in protesting budget cuts in Sacramento

SACRAMENTO — College students marched the rainy streets of Sacramento on Monday in protest of past and proposed budget and enrollments cuts.

Thousands of students from across the state gathered at the California State Capitol despite inclement weather waving signs and leading chants against the proposed fee increases affecting the higher education system.

SJSU had about 70 students at the march and joined the other schools at the start of the route located at California Automobile Museum.

Joe Tran, president of Students for Quality Education, the campus club that organized the event with Associated Students, attended the protest for the last two years and said he is still committed to fighting the budget cuts.

“I decided [that] it was very unfortunate [that] there are people out there who are less privileged than me,” senior sociology major Tran said. “I wanted to make a difference because I know we can make a difference.”

As students gathered prior to the march they started to bang drums, wave signs and sing chants that included, “Whose university? Our university!” and “Kick us out, we’ll vote you out.”

Student Harrison Wills from Santa Monica College said he traveled across the state with his school to attend the march.

“We left at 11 at night,” Wills said. “We had very little sleep and lots of inspiration from students.”

A taco truck and several portable toilets had been set up in anticipation of the crowd, and several people gave away free water in the crowd as they prepared to rally.

Alex Pader, president of the Student Senate for California Community Colleges, led a group of students in chants prior to leaving the meeting site.

Currently co-enrolled at Sacramento State and American River College, Pader said he was forced to enroll in the two institutions due to shortage of classes that he could take at either campus.

As State Senator at large he was asked what he would like to do in the future.

“I would like to seek public office,” Pader said. “I think it is one of the best ways to make effective change in order to help people.”

 

Students gathered in Sacramento to protest budget and enrollment cuts to the higher education system. Thousands of students in attendance marched through the streets of Sacramento, eventually reaching the steps of the capitol where they listened to speakers discuss how the cuts have affected them.

Students gathered in Sacramento to protest budget and enrollment cuts to the higher education system. Thousands of students in attendance marched through the streets of Sacramento, eventually reaching the steps of the capitol where they listened to speakers discuss how the cuts have affected them.

When the march started it began to rain but that did not stop the momentum of the students, who marched in the middle of the street as well as in the mud.

Sacramento Police and California Highway Patrol officers corked off the streets using officers on bicycles, mounted police, and parked cars to control the flow of traffic and protesters.

In addition to a visible police presence, clearly indicated “event staff” were new to this year’s protests, keeping those that marched in designated areas, avoiding the train tracks and off sidewalks.

The control was necessary because approximately 80 busloads, about 4,000 people, of protesters arrived, according to Sacramento Police officer A. Johnson. One estimate inside the Capitol placed the crowd at 12,000 , however SQE President Tran placed his guess at 11,000.

The marcher’s route took them past several downtown businesses and the headquarters of California state departments. Employees inside watched through the windows.

The march eventually made its way to the Capitol where protesters were met by other supporters. Rallying at the steps in front of the Capitol a podium was set up for speakers.

Pader and other student and faculty leaders spoke to the crowd on issues for the students to lobby, severity of proposed and past cuts and issues the related to students’ rights.

Speakers included people who have been affected by the budget cuts directly and each speaker offered a solution to the problems at hand.

The speeches were delivered in English and Spanish, with a sign language interpreter translating to the side of the stage.

A speaker who identified himself as Jesus from Mexico, stirred the crowd in English and Spanish phrases, including si se puede, “yes we can.”

When he spoke about proposed changes to immigration, several people moved from the area under the archway, behind the speakers’ podium, and made a peace hand sign to the crowd, stirring excitement.

“We are the future,” Jesus said. “We have to pass the DREAM Act.”

Despite some topics that some students seemed interested in, the people in the back of the crowd found it difficult to hear the speakers and continued on with chants as people spoke.

SJSU students could still be found in attendance at the rally toward the end of the speeches. Instead of listening they continued chanting.

Students from Mt. San Antonio College in Walnut, Calif., and San Francisco State University handed out leaflets about budget and enrollment cut issues and fliers for future events, including a rally in San Francisco for this weekend.