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California students and faculty denounce education cuts
Friday, September 25, 2009 : Thousands of students, faculty, and workers rallied throughout California Thursday in opposition to budget cuts, tuition hikes, and faculty layoffs. The demonstrations were called on the first day of the new year at several of the schools, as students returned to sharp tuition increases and higher class sizes.
The turnout exceeded the expectations of organizers, reflecting mounting anger over the economic crisis and the massive budget cuts pushed through in California by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and the Democratic Party-controlled state legislature. Rallies, teach-ins, and walkouts took place throughout the 10-campus UC system, which has 220,000 students and 170,000 faculty and staff. UC campuses have laid off nearly 900 employees this year, and plan to lay off 1,000 more next year, according to a report by UC Vice President Patrick Lenz. v The UC system has raised student tuition by nearly 10 percent this year, and has increased class sizes up to 25 percent. UC’s governing board is pushing for an additional 33 percent fee hike next year, to more than $10,000 a year. The state is planning to implement $2 billion in education cuts over the course of the next two years. At UC Berkeley, as many as 5,000 students, professors and staff participated in a rally and march. The demonstrators yelled, “No cuts! No fees! Education should be free!” and, “Is this the corporations’ university? No!” The walkout was sponsored by a number of student and faculty organizations, including the California Student Association, which represents over 200,000 students, the American Association of University Professors, and the University Professional and Technical Employees. At UC Berkeley, the administration has already eliminated classes, laid off lectures and custodians, shortened library hours and eliminated Saturday library hours, and is planning to close a number of departments. Read More