Thursday, March 6, 2014

Student Power! March in March!

"Public colleges and universities united for the statewide student march"
2014-03-04 by Stephanie Magallon from the "State Hornet" []:
Students gathered in front of the Capitol demanding changes to higher education during the annual March in March. (photograph by Daisy Aguilar)

“Students united, will never be divided,” was chanted by Sacramento State students Monday, along with others from California public colleges and universities during a march to the State Capitol in demand of student needs.
The “March in March,” is hosted annually by the Student Senate for California Community Colleges and supported by the California State University and University of California student associations.
The event’s goal is to bring awareness to student’s needs from across California to the state legislator while teaching and empowering student leadership skills.
Several Sac State organizations, such as Students for Quality Education, Movimiento Estudiantil Chican@ de Aztlan and Mujeres Ayudando la Raza, attended the march in support of three common goals revolving around diversity.
They include sustaining the ethnic studies department, diversifying the amount of full-time faculty on campus and increasing the students of color enrollment rate.
Ethnic studies and sociology major Christopher Sanchez marched on behalf of Students for Quality Education and said CSU ethnic studies departments are in jeopardy.
“CSU Long Beach minimized their ethnic studies department into a program and there is no longer a Chicano studies major,” Sanchez said.  “It is only a matter of time until Sac State faces similar problems.”
Sanchez said it is important to look at how and why Long Beach did this to know who to speak to before it becomes a trend. 
San Jose State, CSU Bakersfield and Stanislaus are other campuses where the ethnic studies major is being eliminated, is having classes reduced or is being subsumed into other liberal arts programs, according to the Los Angeles Times article “Cal State's ethnic studies programs falter in changing times.”
Social work major Marcela De La Cruz said she wants to send a message to legislators about how important it is to keep ethnic studies.
“I think ethnic studies are important because they make students aware of different culture’s viewpoints and should be kept as requirement for general education,” De La Cruz said. “From kindergarten to high school, we learn about our country's history through European viewpoints and we need to be aware of others.”
CSU administrators said they are reducing ethnic studies programs and courses because of “uncontrollable and necessary” budget cuts and low enrollment rates, according to the article “A Loss of Ethnic Studies Contributes to Historical Amnesia,” by Jimmy Franco.
Alumna Yeimi Lopez said students need a system that focuses on preparing them for the job market and not one that focuses on profit.
“CSUs are sending the message they want to charge us more for a lower quality education and they want us out fast,” Lopez said.  “When I was in school, I went from paying $2,500 to $5,000. During this time the school was retiring professors without replacing them while offering fewer classes.”
Sociology major and Movimiento Estudiantil Chican@ de Aztlan member Eddie Triste said when departments like ethnic studies are taken away, the diverse faculty (members) also disappear.
“For people who think Sac State is diverse, they need to analyze it more and observe the faculty,” Triste said. “When looking at our sociology department, there is only three Chicano Latino professors. We should strive to have an equal population.”
The Sac State fact book shows there were a total of 1,479 faculty in 2013 and only 23.7 percent were of different ethnicities, 4.9 percent African-Americans, 1.1 percent Native Americans , 11.4 percent Asian/ Pacific Islander and 6.4 percent Latino.
Triste said there have been studies showing how students of color who have teachers of color are more likely to succeed.
Several professors on campus like Elvia Ramirez and Manuel Barajas have done studies on how diverse faculty is critical for promoting academic success among underrepresented students.
Ethnic studies Professor Elvia Ramirez found Latino/a undergraduate students are more likely to approach diverse faculty for letters of recommendation for graduate school. She said many students had few professors they could relate to or felt comfortable approaching for mentoring and advice.
Triste said he hopes this march will enlighten legislators and encourage students to become long term activists to defend education.

"UC Davis students participate in March in March"
2014-03-06 by Laura Fitzgerald from "The California Aggie" UC Davis student newspaper []:
On March 3, a handful of ASUCD senators, along with students from ASUCD Lobby Corps and University Affairs participated in the March in March in Sacramento. The event began at Raley Field in West Sacramento, where students from all over California met and then marched to the State Capitol to advocate for legislation regarding higher education. Upon reaching the capitol building, students rallied and listened to speeches by California Assembly members Paul Fong and Rocky Chavez in addition to community college students and faculty members.
The Student Senate of California Community Colleges organized the march to unite students at community colleges and other state universities and to instill motivation in students to take action for higher education.
Harley Litzelman, a first-year sociology and communication double major and the current legislative aid for Lobby Corps, attended and helped organize the event. When external director of Lobby Corps and third-year international relations major Sumeeta Ghai  ran for ASUCD vice president, Litzelman temporarily held the position and aided with the legislative aspects of Lobby Corps.
Litzelman described the main motives for UC Davis organizations’ participation in March in March.
“We want to expand Lobby Corps from its traditional status as elite students in suits marching the halls of the Capitol and briefly meeting with legislative staffers,” Litzelman said. “We still want to be lobbyists, but we also want to be activists, organizers, protestors and most importantly, advocates.”
Adina Kuncz, a third-year political science major, also helped organize March in March as a member of Lobby Corps. Kuncz previously attended Santa Barbara City College, where she served as a senator and attended the march last year as well.
“We needed to show that all students across California unify on their concerns for higher education, regardless if you’re from a CC, CSU or UC,” Kuncz said.
The march demonstrated the effort and advocacy for issues dealing with higher education, such as high costs and rising class sizes, that our California state legislature currently faces. Students were able to express their advocacy for more accessible higher education during the entirety of the march and influence ideas on state legislation.
“The quality of policy affecting community colleges is inextricably bound to the quality of policy affecting four-year universities,” Litzelman said. “Community college policy is higher education policy, so it is only natural for us to stand in solidarity with them.”

No comments:

Post a Comment