UC Students, Faculty Walkout To Protest Budget Cuts

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(Sacramento, CA)
Thursday, September 24, 2009
Students, teachers and faculty rallied at ten University of California campuses today (Thursday). 

Some of them walked-out of classrooms and off the job on the first day of school. 

They’re opposed to layoffs and furloughs as well as proposed student fee hikes to cope with a massive budget crunch.

Capital Public Radio's Steve Shadley got reaction at one of the rallies at U-C Davis...
Students Chant   “United, divided...”
A huge crowd of hundreds of students, professors and staff gathered on the lawn outside the UC-Davis Student Union. 

They waved signs that read “Keep UC Affordable...” and “Stop Gutting Our University.” 

The messages were directed at UC administrators, state lawmakers and Governor Schwarzenegger who’ve been criticized for cutting higher education spending by hundreds of millions of dollars.

Jordan Carroll is a graduate student at UC-Davis. He says it was important to attend the rally...
Carroll    “I have a graduate seminar today and it was cancelled and I’m completely fine with that. I think the education that’s going on here is important...”
Michelle Yates is also a grad student. She says the cuts go too deep...
Michelle “Lecturers are being laid off. There are less classes being offered. Class sizes are going to increase. There’s a 32-percent tuition increase over the next year. These things are all a concern to me...”   
Both UC and California State Universities are requiring employees to take unpaid furlough days off. California is coping with its most severe financial crisis since the great depression.

Tom Denton is a graduate student studying mathematics at UC Davis. He’s upset because the cuts are coming as some top UC administrators are taking home annual salaries of more than a half-million dollars...
Tom “I think that if we are going to be a university educating people then we have to listen to the educators and not just the people who we’re giving these giant salaries to...”

And, it’s not just students who are angry. Some UC-Davis professors cancelled classes so they could go to the rallies too.

Marcus Luty  teaches physics at U-C Davis. Luty says teachers are so focused on the cuts that they’re not talking about what’s happening in the classroom...
Luty “There’s a pervasive feeling that morale is very low and yes, I’ve specifically heard people talking about leaving. So far, I haven’t seen it happen in my department but I hear things around the UC system about it...”
Fred Wood is Vice-Chancellor of Student Affairs at UC-Davis. He says UC Administrators are aware that faculty and students are suffering the brunt of the budget cuts...
Wood  “We’re trying to make this step to preserve the university. That is if the collective savings from the furlough programs means that we don’t have to layoff other staff...or that we don’t have to replace some of the staff that are retiring...or to keep operations like student services available...then that’s a decision we’re willing to support because it’s improving the student experience...”   
Wood says the University of California might provide more loans and grants to some students who can’t afford the tuition increase.   

Meantime, rally organizers are urging students and faculty to write letters to Governor Schwarzenegger and lawmakers. They’re asking them to restore education funding.