Students plan to rally, lobby in Sacramento

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Thousands of students from around the state are expected to converge in Sacramento on Monday to demonstrate in support of higher education.

The planned protest follows a national day of action Thursday that saw protests of varied sizes at schools across the country. UC Berkeley’s protest was small, but a contingent of about 30 demonstrators embarked that day on the “99 Mile March for Education and Social Justice” to the state capitol for Monday’s demonstrations.

The UC Student Association — which is working with the Student Senate for California Community Colleges and the California State Student Association to plan protest events — estimated in a statement Tuesday that more than 10,000 students will rally.

Students are also planning to voice their concerns to legislators through over 100 lobbying visits Monday as part of the association’s annual Student Lobby Conference in Sacramento.

Students plan to push for reversal of cuts to higher education and protection of the Cal Grant program, as well as advocating for the passage of the Middle Class Scholarship Act — which would reduce tuition and fees for students whose families make less than $150,000 a year by two-thirds — according to the statement.

These actions come at a time when the UC has seen its budget slashed by hundreds of millions of dollars as tuition and fees skyrocket. Last year, the state cut $750 million from the university, and a $200 million cut could occur this year if voters reject Gov. Jerry Brown’s proposed tax increases in the fall.

Such cuts have led to a series of student protests over the last few years. Monday’s protest has been endorsed by administrators, faculty and student leaders.

Anant Sahai, a UC Berkeley assistant professor of electrical engineering and computer sciences who graduated from the campus in 1994, joined the marchers heading toward Sacramento Saturday along with about 14 other faculty members.

“When I was in school, everyone knew Berkeley was the best, and it still is, but the state is threatening to make it not be the best,” he said.

In a campuswide email last week, UC Berkeley Chancellor Robert Birgeneau asked that students be allowed to miss class to attend the demonstrations. Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost George Breslauer, Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Harry Le Grande and several campus deans will travel to Sacramento, the email stated.

The ASUC Senate similarly endorsed the protests when it passed a bill at its Wednesday meeting to fund buses to transport students to the capitol.

“The fact that students from all three systems of public higher education are joining together at the capitol is a powerful display of unity and a sharp reminder to legislators that we expect more from them,” said ASUC External Affairs Vice President Joey Freeman.

Staff writers Aliyah Mohammed and Christopher Yee contributed to this report. 

J.D. Morris is the university news editor.

Correction(s):
A previous version of this article stated that a national day of action took place at various campuses Friday. In fact, the day of action occurred Thursday.