UCSC Day of Action Unites Local Movements

Article by Heather R. Putnam; video and image by Bradley Stuart

Wednesday, November 9th was a day of action at UC Santa Cruz. Workers, graduate and undergraduate students, UCSC faculty, K-12 teachers, union members, and others gathered for a march from campus to downtown to speak out not only against budget cuts in education, but also to highlight the inseparability of the issues of educational justice and wealth disparity on our campuses, in our community, our nation, and the world.

The demonstration began with an opening rally at the Quarry on the UCSC campus before more than 500 people marched down to the entrance of campus at High and Bay Streets, occupying the intersection for almost an hour while rallying before continuing down Bay Street on to Highway 1/Mission Street, animating some drivers stopped along the way and annoying others.

Student marchers protested fee hikes and accompanying budget cuts at the University of California, a situation where “education is being made a class issue, instead of a human right as established by Brown vs. the Board of Education” and people of color face increasing difficulty even completing secondary school, let alone university-level degrees, according to second year Feminist Studies student Hayden Kreiling. Mark Paschal, UCSC graduate student and organizer for UAW Local 2865 (the academic workers’ union at UCSC), encouraged student protesters to be in solidarity with Occupy Wall Street protests, telling the crowd “by confronting Wells Fargo we declare our solidarity with the thousands that they have thrown out of their homes. By joining with Occupy Santa Cruz we engage in a creative politics that builds a new infrastructure with the discarded homes, buildings and public spaces that capital has cast off”. The strong connection being made between educational budget cuts and economic inequality was reflected by the diversity of messages on signs carried by protesters (“Occupy and Decolonize””; “Students & Workers”).

Marchers from UCSC were joined upon arrival at the clock tower in downtown Santa Cruz by demonstrators and representatives from the American Federation of Teachers, the Autonomous Chapter of the Watsonville Brown Berets, Occupy Santa Cruz, the Raging Grannies, the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, the Pajaro Valley Federation of Teachers, and the California Faculty Association of CSUMB, among other groups, swelling the number of protesters to above 700 people. After rallying on the post office steps, the marchers proceeded to Wells Fargo Bank before finally arriving to the Occupy Santa Cruz site at the courthouse. Addressing the crowd at the post office, Jennifer Laskin of the PVFT and WBB declared that “labor is the nexus of power…make labor and allies the human microphone of the people”. Students and community members expressed hope that the solidarity among movements seen at this protest would be followed by continued momentum and further actions; as Kayla Reeves, fourth year Environmental Studies student said, “We are not going away”.

Video: Jennifer Laskin at Occupy Education

Jennifer Laskin of the Watsonville Brown Berets and Pajaro Valley Federation of Teachers speaks to the Occupy Education rally at the Santa Cruz Post Office.

Crossposted at Indybay.org.