Rally on Sproul Plaza supports affirmative action

More than 100 students from UC Berkeley and Oakland High School gathered on Sproul Plaza at noon today to protest in support of restoring affirmative action.

Students marched from Sproul Plaza and went around Memorial Glade and gathered again on Sproul chanting slogans and holding banners that read “Defend Affermative Action and Integration; Stop the Re-segregation of Higher Education.”

The Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action, Integration and Immigrant Rights and Fight for Equality By Any Means Necessary, which has filed a federal lawsuit to overturn Proposition 209, which banned affirmative action in the state of California, organized the protest.

“Oppressed communities are uniting and fighting to gather and telling the truth about racism and inequality,” said Yvette Felarca, an English and History teacher at Martin Luther King Middle School in Berkeley and a spokesperson for BAMN.

The proposition laid the groundwork for more attacks on higher education for students, such as tuition hikes, said Felarca.

“We need the leaders from Oakland, and we need the leaders from UC Berkeley fighting together,” she added.

Since voters approved the proposition in 1996, the numbers of Latino, black, Native American and other underrepresented minority students attending the UC’s flagship universities have declined precipitously, the organization’s website states.

According to UC Berkeley admissions data, 342 black students were admitted in fall 2011, constituting 3.4 percent of the admitted class. The number represents a 7.2 percent increase from fall 2010 and an 11 percent increase from fall 2007, when 308 black students were admitted.

The frustration and anxiety are understandable but the methods of protest are “more detrimental than helpful just because of the connotation that these types of protests have,” said UC Berkeley junior Francisco Luna, who was observing the protest. “I think it was more effective in the ’60s because it was new … It might be time to adopt a different way to protest.”

The protesters dispersed around 1 p.m.