Students Protest Fee Hikes at Universities
Peter Henderson, Reuters, 4 March 2010
Weakening of the education system is considered particularly severe in California, one of the states hardest-hit by the recession.
Several hundred students, faculty and staff rallied at the University of California at Berkeley, the 1960s hub of Vietnam war protests. Yoga students there held classes outside to avoid crossing picket lines.
A UC Santa Cruz radio broadcast advised the public to avoid that campus after protesters blocked a traffic entrance.
Thousands were expected to rally at public schools and at state university and community college campuses up and down the state.
Students are not alone in their dissatisfaction with cutbacks. Polls show that voters see the quality of life in California in decline with a gaping budget shortfall, legislative gridlock, slashed social services and double-digit unemployment.
The protests also reflected a growing debate about whether Californians should temper their aspirations or be willing to pay more to maintain universities and other hallmark institutions like state parks and social services.
"They are not prioritizing education. That should be at the top of the list -- on top of everything," said Yesenia Castellanos, 18, a Berkeley freshman heading for a march with a sign reading, "Do UC what I see? Injustice."