Thousands of University of California students, faculty and staff gathered in Berkeley Thursday for one of many rallies held statewide to protest how the system’s Board of Regents has dealt with reductions in state funding.
A noontime rally brought more than 5,000 people to UC Berkeley’s Upper Sproul Plaza, according to Tanya Smith, president of the Berkeley chapter of the University Professional and Technical Employees-Communication Workers of America union Local 9119.
Among other protests in the state, hundreds of people also gathered at the University of California at San Francisco Medical Center, where state Sen. Leland Yee, D-San Francisco/San Mateo, criticized how the UC system was being run.
The rallies were a response to recent moves by the UC Board of Regents, which approved a plan in July to institute employee furloughs along with other cuts and fee hikes. UC President Mark Yudof also announced this month a plan to increase student fees by another $2,514 over the next year.
California University Cuts Protested
BERKELEY, Calif.— Thousands of students, faculty members and employees at the 10 University of California campuses protested budget cuts, unpaid faculty furloughs and tuition increases on Thursday.
Officials at the University of California, Berkeley, estimated that several thousand protesters were in Sproul Plaza chanting and waving signs. Most academic departments on campus reported that some classes had been canceled because faculty members and students walked out. Other campuses reported smaller turnouts at rallies and marches.
“Everyone agrees there is a budget crisis and that the university must respond,” said Joshua Clover, an associate professor of English at U.C. Davis who was a co-author of a petition calling for the faculty walkout on Thursday. The problem, Mr. Clover said, is that the administration’s handling of the budget cuts “disproportionately harms those who can least afford it both among the workers and the students.”
Thousands march in Berkeley over UC cuts
Thousands of UC students marched through downtown Berkeley and the area around campus this afternoon, staging a sit-down protest and blocking traffic as part of a demonstration against cuts to the university budget and proposed fee increases.
The unscheduled march started at the end of a two-hour rally on Sproul Plaza attended by an estimated 5,000 students, professors and other university employees. The protesters, shoulder to shoulder and chanting “Education should be free. No cuts, no fees,” marched through campus, passing by UC Chancellor Robert Birgeneau’s office, and then went off campus to Shattuck Avenue, ultimately blocking all lanes of traffic for two block.