JUAN GONZALEZ: Thousands of students across the country are planning to walk out of classes today as part of the National Day of Action to Defend Public Education. According to the website studentactivism.net, more than 100 actions are planned in thirty-two states. The call for nationwide protests originated in California following last November’s student strikes and building takeovers.
In November, the University of California’s Board of Regents voted to raise undergraduate fees 32 percent next fall. Due to budget cuts in California, teachers have been put on furlough, classes have been cut, and entire academic departments have been eliminated.
A number of student protests have already taken place this week in California. On Wednesday, twenty students occupied a building at Cal State University, Fullerton for five hours. On Monday, five students were arrested in Sacramento outside the office of California Assembly Member Jim Nielson.
University of California Student Association President Victor Sanchez spoke in Sacramento on Monday.
VICTOR SANCHEZ: I think the purpose of today’s march, rally, lobby day action, everything, is to make sure that we make a case to the state that education should be a right, not a privilege. We’ve seen our institutions teeter all along the line of privatization, and we can’t take it anymore. I think ultimately we’re here to stand up and have our voices heard, and that’s what we’re here to do.
AMY GOODMAN: Student protests have also been held in recent days across the University of California system to protest a series of recent racist incidents at UC San Diego and UCLA. At UC Berkeley, scores of black students lined up to block the campus’s famous Sather Gate.
Here in New York, walkouts are planned at Hunter College and other schools. A rally is scheduled outside of Governor David Paterson’s Manhattan office.
Some international student protests are also being organized today. Earlier today at the University of Johannesburg in South Africa, police fired water cannons on students who were demanding the government provide free education for the poor. The South African Students Congress called on students to boycott classes at nine campuses today.
Well, we’re joined now by two guests at the University of California, Berkeley. Ananya Roy is a professor of urban studies and international development. She’s part of the Solidarity Alliance. And Ricardo Gomez is a third-year undergraduate student who started the group Berkeley Students Against the Cuts. Read on...