Thousands of students, educators and concerned citizens will gather at school campuses across the country today for a united effort against education cuts. Unprecedented hikes in student fees, teacher furloughs, layoffs and canceled classes sparked the frustration and anger that led to today's rallies.
Protests and rallies for the Day of Action have been in the works for months. The grassroots effort started in the Bay Area, where some of the biggest rallies are planned. Although there's no single group coordinating the March 4 activities, several organizations are behind the effort. There are now 122 events planned in 33 states for today's action. Check out the map.
At University of California San Diego, the day's events will focus on the budget crisis but will also include the racially-charged events that prompted rallies and protests last month.
UCSD police are investigating a KKK-style hood placed on a statue outside the main campus library on Monday. A student is being investigated for a hate crime for her part in hanging a noose in the Giesel Library on Feb. 25. Tthe notorious Compton Cookout -- held the weekend of Feb. 13-14 -- invited participants to a ghetto-themed party and a student used the N-word on student-run television to describe critics of the Compton Cookout.
As a result of the events, students presented the school's chancellor with a list of demands that included increasing the number of African Americans in the university's faculty and student pools.
To Day of Action event organizer and UCSD undergraduate student Leslie Quintanilla, the issues are connected. “All of the diversity issues are part of the educational crisis," she said. "Where there will be no more people of color at the university if there is no more funding for outreach and retention programs and no more funding for the Cal grants and scholarships to give access to the university to kids from under privileged communities.”
Along with an noon rally, organizers with the UCSD Coalition for Educational Justice are calling on professors to teach classes outside Thursday as a sign of solidarity and "opening the campus." At issue, according to event organizer and UCSD graduate student José Fusté, is budget transparency.
The UC's argument for lack of diversity in student population and faculty positions is lack of funding, according to Fusté but the coalition sees things differently.
"It's part of a crisis of priorities," said Fusté who maintains the UC system spends more on research than instruction. "It's a lot of wasted money," he said, "It's become out of control."
UCSD students will join other students from area universities on a march downtown beginning at 1:30 p.m. in Balboa Park and ending at Front Street.
Facebook, Twitter and blogs are ever-changing with information and calls to action for the united effort. They have been ground zero for planning and rallies.
The California Teachers Association says over the last two years, legislators have cut $17 billion from schools and colleges. Districts up and down the Golden State have laid off 16,000 teachers and eliminated programs like art, music and PE from their schedules.