Protestors call for CSU chancellor to resign
by Brian De Los Santos
April 14, 2011
Students and faculty across CSU campuses rallied, marched, and participated in sit-ins at administration buildings to protest against CSU Chancellor Charles Reed and other Board of Trustees officials. CSUN students and faculty joined the CSU effort.
Students for Quality Education (SQE), a student advocacy group, organized the protests to raise awareness of what they say is “corruption” among CSU officials on Wednesday. The California Faculty Association (CFA) also came out in support of the protests.
According to SQE, students and faculty from 12 CSU campuses joined the protests and assembled at university buildings to demand Chancellor Reed’s resignation among other demands.
Daniel Santana Hernandez, SQE member, said in contrast to the March 2 Day of Action education protests, where atendees voiced their disapproval of fee hikes, Wednesday’s day of action was against CSU administration.
“Even though we would have appropriate funding for the CSU, as long as we have administration who will not guarantee that the funding will go where it needs to go, such as Chancellor Reed, then what’s the point in protesting against budget cuts?” Hernandez said.
There were two protests against budgets cuts on March 2, held across UC’s, CSU’s, and community colleges and March 14, when students rallied at Sacramento’s Capitol building.
Although the CSUN CFA was not present at the March 2 protests, the CFA came out in support for students in Wednesday’s events.
“The CFA is supporting in any way necessary to be with our students today,” said Theresa Montaño, president of the CSUN CFA chapter and Chicano studies professor. “(Students at the protests) across the CSU are saying ‘you better pay attention, this is about our future, and this is not game.’”
Other student organizations such as the LGBTA, BSU, MECHA, CAUSA and others came out to support the student led protest.
Senior Josh Thompson, 20, who represented BSU and his fraternity, Kappa Alpha Psi at the day of action said it is important to attend events such as education protests to fight for the future.
“Our brothers and sisters in middle school and high school, who are trying to make it to higher education, wont have a chance (at college),” Thompson said.
Dr. William Watkins, vice president of Student Affairs and dean of students, was present at Wednesday’s protest. He said students can be heard when they peacefully assemble.
“(Students are heard because) I think that we have been able to stave of the reductions in funding to higher education in part because students have been very vocal in expressing their demand for college-going opportunities.” Dr. Watkins said.
The day of demonstrations began after 11 a.m., where a rally took place in front of the Oviatt Library. Students, teachers and members of the CSUN community rapped, sang, voiced their concerns and presented their testimonies before the public.
Dr. Daniel Ratcliff, Pan-African studies professor, was the keynote speaker at the rally.
“It’s not going to happen the first time, like Egypt… maybe we need to create our own Tahrir Square, our liberation square,” Dr. Raticliff said.
After the rally in front of the library, SQE members led the crowd of about 100 people in a march around campus.
Students and faculty carried signs and banners and chanted in unison with phrases like “Don’t stand around, come join the fight, CSUN unite!” and “Hey hey ho ho Chancellor Reed has got to go!”
SQE leaders were dispersed at various locations on campus throughout the day to inform other students about their cause and demands for the Board of Trustees.
Their final stop, at 12:45 p.m., was at University Hall. Students went up the stairs and entered the side of the building that housed CSUN President Jolene Koester’s office.
Students from other CSUs also planned to “take over” the administration buildings of their campuses as well.
Some onlookers, like Freshman Dustin Melgar, 18, public health major were puzzled with Wednesday’s activities.
“I would protest with them but I do not know what it’s about,” Melgar said. “(Next time) they should spread the word more and go around and tell people. There is a lot of people (at the protest) but there could be more.”
SQE posted small fliers around campus and used social media to promote the day’s events weeks leading to the protest.
SQE reported an attendance of about 200 to 300 people at the rally, however numbers changed throughout the day.
CSUN police was present throughout campus at Wednesday’s protest.
Police Capt. Scott Vanscoy said the organizers worked closely with law enforcement to create a peaceful event.
Jorge Moraga, 23, SQE member, said police were “very cooperative” with the protest and kept in close communication regarding fire codes and security.
At University Hall, students, accompanied by faculty members, greeted each other, chanted and shared personal stories regarding their education at the sit-in, which was named “the people’s assembly.”
They covered the halls’ walls with yellow paper and wrote their opinions about the situation of higher education.
One of the comments on the piece of paper read, “My education is important!”
Students occupied the building’s floors, interacted with others and ate snacks. Staff members passed by them, trying not to step on them. Office employees were still on shift, while the students rallied outside the offices.
However, the commotion outside the walls did not bother some.
“We are not bothered,” said Rosemarie Martinez, EOP office employee. “Some of our students are out there involved.”
SQE planned to prolong the sit-in until an administrator would talk to them. They wanted to hear from Koester and Reed.
“We are not leaving until we feel like we have to,” said Hernandez.
While they waited, protestors tweeted and called Reed and Governor Jerry Brown to raise awareness of the protest.
According to SQE members, at around 4 p.m., an administrator talked to students and told them to stop the demonstration. The administrator said Reed would come to the CSUN campus on April 22.
Students and faculty agreed to meet on Thursday in front of Bayranium Hall and dispersed from University Hall before 5 p.m.
Sophomore Elizabeth Quintero, 20, who participated in the Sacramento protest as well as Wednesday’s protest said she will keep fighting for her rights even though turn-outs at protests are low.
SQE is planning another event on April 22 when Reed is present.