96 hours of demonstrations across UC system come to end

Rachael Garner/Staff

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Nearly 100 people gathered on the steps of Sproul Hall at noon Thursday as part of a campaign across multiple UC campuses to protest planned tuition hikes.

Actions throughout the week included a funeral for public education as part of 96 Hours of Action, an initiative to protest a tuition increase policy passed by the UC regents in November, which could raise tuition 5 percent annually for 5 years. It culminated in a Thursday shutdown of the UC Santa Cruz campus, where the largest actions of the universitywide initiative took place.

Organizers of 96 Hours of Action intended to bring together students across the UC system to participate in a variety of demonstrations, which also touched on issues of police brutality and the general privatization of the university.

“This is about actively fighting the homogenization and privatization of learning, of land, and of the tools we need to build resilient communities,” said UC Berkeley freshman Camille Fassett, a member of campus-based group Students for Engaged and Active Learning, in an email.

Carrying signs with slogans such as “Stop privatizing education,” the crowd that gathered at Sproul on Thursday marched down the middle of Bancroft Way, temporarily halting traffic.

After returning to campus, the protesters marched through Wheeler and Dwinelle halls. In Dwinelle, upon interrupting a lecture, they were met with applause from the students.

“I’m a first-generation college student, and now I’m going to have to start worrying about how to pay for this school,” said UC Berkeley freshman Lilian Vasquez, who was present at the protest. “It’s a burden for me and my parents.”

UC Berkeley spokesperson Janet Gilmore has stated that, due to grants and aid, the tuition hikes will have minimal impact on students from lower-income families.

Also on Thursday, students at the UC Berkeley School of Law held a bake sale from about 9 a.m. to noon to raise awareness of the hikes.

According to law student Jackie Zaneri, prices for the baked goods rose steadily as the sale went on. Those who couldn’t afford to pay were given fake unsubsidized loans, a parody of the loans many UC Berkeley students face.

At UC Davis, students held small events on campus for the 96 hours, according to UC Davis spokesperson Andy Fell.

Meanwhile, at UC Santa Cruz on Tuesday, six protesters chained themselves to trash cans filled with concrete and blocked Highway 1 for several hours. The six demonstrators, all students, have been arrested.

UCSC students continued to protest Thursday morning, when they blocked entrances to campus, prompting the campus to advise students, faculty and staff not to come to campus, according to an advisory from the UCSC news center.

Protesters at UC Berkeley dispersed around 1:30 p.m., after gathering in front of the University House.

Staff writer Melissa Wen contributed to this report.

Contact Ivana Saric at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter @ivanas26.