Thursday, March 22 , 2018, 9:27 pm | Light Rain Fog/Mist 57º


UCSB #MillionStudentMarch Exceeds Expectations With Crowd of 1500

At 12 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 12, a crowd of students, workers and allies joined together to protest for the demands of the #MillionStudentMarch — a nationwide student movement whose goals are tuition-free public higher education, cancellation of all student debt and $15 minimum wage for all campus workers.

An estimated crowd of 1500 rallied at Storke Lawn, then marched through the Arbor walkway, one of the busiest places on campus, toward Cheadle Hall, the campus administration building, which houses Chancellor Henry T. Yang's office.

The crowd grew as the march began around 12:30 p.m. after students were released from their classes and witnesses turned into supporters as the group marched through campus.

In addition to the rally, speeches, marching and chanting, students were also given the opportunity to create a “Wall of Debt” on the front entrance of Cheadle Hall. Papers with “TOO MUCH” written on them were handed out and students wrote the amount of debt they are currently or expect to be in, and taped them onto the building.

Although the demonstration was at Cheadle Hall, the march and demands were not intended for UCSB’s administration, but rather to get the attention of state- and nationwide policy makers, including presidential candidates.

The groups on campus and nationwide who organized this march were United State Student Association, Associated Students (AS) Office of the External Vice President for Statewide Affairs, AS Office of the Student Advocate General and UCSB for Bernie.

Official supporters include AFSCME 3299, National Nurses United, University of California Student Association and a number of faculty, staff and community members.

“Today we sent a message to the people that our generation will no longer accept the unaffordable and inaccessible state of higher education, which prices students out or leaves them with a lifetime of debt," Mohsin Mirza, executive vice president for statewide affairs, UCSB Associated Students. "The goal was to force people in power, from the ones that walk through the halls of our legislatures to those vying for the Presidency, to address our issues.”

According to Student Advocate General Joseline Garcia, the immense movement surpassed all other campus protests in size since the 1990s, and its aims are urgent for the students involved.

"Today we witnessed one of the largest demonstrations on this campus since the 90s. Why? Because students are tired of working numerous jobs to pay tuition, frustrated every time the state and country refuses to invest in their future, but most importantly because they believe that these demands can be met," she said. "We are not going to wait for legislators to have a change of heart. We are demanding these changes. Students are invested in the movement and will continue pushing."

Although Thursday's march was the culmination of weeks of effort by students who organized the action, it is the beginning of a movement just like those in Chile, England, South Africa and many other countries that fight to prove that education is not a privilege — it is a right.

— Kyle Butts is the campus organizer for the UCSB Office of the External Vice President for Statewide Affairs.

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