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Local Colleges Organize Rallies To Protest Tuition Hikes

— Students, professors and faculty across the nation participated in the National Day of Action for Education, protesting budget cuts and tuition hikes.

San Diego State University, UC San Diego and City College organized their own rallies and walkouts.

At SDSU, the M1 Coalition, the group that organized the event at Scripps Cottage on campus, encouraged students to walk out of their classes at noon and meet them to discuss the problems in the education system and find solutions.

Professors, representatives from various student organizations on campus and community members spoke out at the event.

Alicia Nichols, emcee of the event, said students and faculty are in this together because neither are benefiting from the privatization of education. She said the schools are being run like a business and only administrators are benefitting.

“Our goals is really just to create an environment on this particular campus where students are consistently voicing their disagreements and don’t feel so powerless in the face of cuts and fee hikes, which is generally the way that it has been going for the last about 10 years.”

She also said M1 Coalition is hoping students no longer become apathetic to a problem that has been on-going for years.

“This is really the culmination of about five, six years of frustration and students just getting together and saying we need to foster an environment that’s conducive for activism on this campus,” she said.

Ashley Wardle, an SDSU graduate student arrested at a CSU Board of Trustees meeting in Long Beach, said as a teaching assistant it broke her heart to encounter students who were unable to afford their education because of tuition increases.

"As an educator, I said I have to get involved in this," she said. "I have to make sure that future generations are able to go to school..."

She also said it is essential to empower students to come together and speak out against the cuts to education.

“When we don’t come together, it’s easier for (the CSU Trustees) to impose these budget cuts when they know that there’s a voice and there’s people that are against it, hopefully they’ll think twice before they implement these budget cuts,” she said.

In addition, Nichols also said that the group wants to prevent ethnic studies departments from being consolidated together or being taken away entirely.

At UCSD, the Public Education Coalition organized a similar event to “reclaim UCSD” in which students and professors held a walk out and a rally.

Cienna Davis, ethnic studies major at UCSD, said in a telephone interview that after the rally, the group marched through campus to the Chancellor’s Complex and occupied the conference room.

Davis said there are between 50 and 60 students currently in the conference room, with many planning to stay the night. They are discussing their future plans.

According to Nikolai Smith, students are planning to stay the entire week and have put together a list of demands to be met by the UCSD administration by March 8.

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