On Monday, March 5, 2012, thousands of UC, CSU, and Community College students marched to the State Capitol building to support a more accessible, affordable, and better quality higher education for generations to come.
My fellow graduate student activists, Diana T. Dyste Anzures, Ellie Sciaky, and Miles Ashlock, and I arrived at a park near the Capitol early Monday morning. Students arrived by the busload. Many students were making last-minute posters, others were chanting and cheering and bringing energy to the crowd.
At 10 a.m. we started our march to the Capitol surrounded by police on bicycles, motorcycles, and horses. We cheered, “No Cuts. No Fees. Education Should Be Free!” Our group walked with the United Educators of San Francisco and sang along with an older woman playing the guitar. The people marching were not just students; there were community members, parents, grandparents, teachers, faculty, and professors (my favorite was an Engineering professor from UC Berkeley with a sign that used advanced calculus to describe the need to fund higher education – I wish I could understand advanced calculus.).
The peaceful march ended on the Capitol lawn with speakers who addressed the state of higher education and the need for more funding. The Capitol lawn was standing room only with thousands of individuals waving their signs high in the air. This sight was an inspiration and gave me hope that people can unite for a better future. View the photo album on Facebook and watch the YouTube video.
One of the main initiatives that was promoted during the march was The Millionaires Tax of 2012. There were many volunteers soliciting signatures for this campaign, which would require millionaires to pay their fair share of taxes with the additional money the State receives going to support K-12, higher education, and essential public services.
After the rally, UC students gathered in the Capitol building and in groups of four and met with more than 100 elected officials in their offices. Each group was given talking points about Same Day Voter Registration, The Middle Class Scholarship Act, the Working Families Student Fee Transparency & Accountability Act and Governor Brown’s new budget proposal that allows $200 million in trigger cuts for higher education and aims to increase the high school GPA requirement for individuals receiving Cal Grants.
My group met with Assembly Member Jerry Hill’s aide, Tony Marino, and discussed the need to support higher education. Marino said that Hill will support the initiatives we discussed and he recommended reaching out to Republican Senators and Assembly members and asking for their support because the bills need a two-thirds vote to be passed into law.
Community College and CSU students also lobbied elected officials to support higher education and the aides, Assembly members, and Senators seemed to be listening to our concerns. Time will only tell whether they follow through with their promises.
What’s next? Get involved!
- Join the UCSA
- Sign a petition for the Millionaires Tax or The Middle Class Scholarship Act
- Attend the 2013 Student Lobby
- Register to Vote
- Vote in the November 2012 election to support these important campaigns
- Share your voice with elected officials
After participating in a powerful moment in UCSA history, I believe that students (undergraduates, graduates, and professionals) can truly fight for a better tomorrow.