Friday, September 25, 2009

Press Release for 9-24-09: A Day of Action

1000 rally against fee increases and layoffs at UC Irvine


September 24, 2009 - At noon today, in an unprecedented action at the University of California in Irvine, five hundred undergraduate and graduate students, professors, staff, and workers packed the steps outside Aldrich Hall, the administration building to rally against budget cuts and their implementation by the administration, fee increases, layoffs, and furloughs. Speakers chastised the state legislature and UC administration, while emphasizing the importance of public higher education. The protesters joined the UPTE workers and their picket lines before the speakers rallied the crowd with speeches about collective action.

At UCI, 1000 faculty, students, union members and staff participated in actions throughout the day, including the picket, an improvised, street theater performance on the Claire Trevor School of the Arts campus and a teach-in in the Social Science Plaza at 2 pm. An evening teach-in about the budget crisis and the history of UCI activism had over one hundred in attendance. Numerous professors and graduate students also held impromptu teach-ins in their morning classes before walking out.

These actions were carried out in coordination with a UC-wide day of action, which saw protests at all of the ten UC campuses, with over to 5,000 protesters gathered at UC Berkeley alone and over 700 at UCLA.

Catherine Liu, Associate Professor in the School of Humanities, told students at the rally, "Educate, empower yourselves, learn what you're not supposed to learn, take charge of where you're going, figure out why the UC was virtually tuition free in 1972."

Many students attended because of rising student fees, class cuts, and outrage over administrative pay increases, but there was also strong support for campus workers, who are facing furloughs and have seen 7 groundskeepers and janitors laid off. Faculty and lecturers are also expecting furloughs this year. Protesters held signs reading "Chop
From the Top" and "Lay Off Yudof," in reference to UC President Mark Yudof.

Next steps have not been announced yet, but there will likely be additional coordinated actions in the coming months. Activists at the southern schools, such as UCLA and UC Irvine, are anticipating actions at the UC Regents' meeting in November, where the Regents are scheduled to make a final decision on mid-year fee increases which would bring fees to over $10,000 for the first time in UC history.

For more information:
John Bruning (262) 894-7667