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Classes Disrupted As Bay Area College Students, Occupy Movement Team Up

SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) – College students all over the Bay Area and across the nation were partnering with the Occupy movement Thursday in a day of action against higher tuition costs.

San Francisco’s Civic Center Plaza hosted a gathering of several hundred protesters calling on California to better fund education and reduce student debt.

“Tax the rich,” the crowd chanted again and again, led by speakers on a platform strung with a banner advocating a “Millionaire’s Tax” ballot initiative that would raise taxes on California’s wealthiest citizens.

KCBS’ Matt Bigler Reports:

The rally was part of the larger National Day of Action to Defend the Right to Education held throughout the country Thursday, as several groups from around San Francisco converged for the day-concluding event.

Thursday’s protests are the latest in a series of demonstrations over the lack of funding for public education in the state, which has resulted in dramatic fee increases for public universities in recent years.

Alex Schmaus, a student in City College of San Francisco and a participant in “Occupy CCSF,” told the crowd that he had accumulated $27,000 in debt as a student at SFSU but didn’t earn a degree, and now collection agencies were threatening to garnish his paychecks.

Schmaus drew connections between the campaign for better funding for higher education and some of the larger goals of the Occupy movement, including more access to housing and sending less people to prisons.

Students from Mission High School in San Francisco were also invited onto the stage to speak, wondering what opportunities would be available if they were priced out of being able to attend college, and how they could give back to the world without access to an education.

“The way things are going we’re going to have only private universities, we’re not going to have public universities,” Terence Yancey, 26, a philosophy major at San Francisco State University told the crowd.

Yancey said that he had come over with a larger group from SFSU, which held a rally and march earlier Thursday afternoon. But part of his group had split off to go to Oakland, where some protesters were gearing up for a four-day march to Sacramento.

Called the “99 Mile March,” the demonstrators plan to make stops in San Pablo, Vallejo, Vacaville and Davis before arriving in Sacramento Monday morning for a massive convergence planned at the state Capitol.

Yancey said he would be joining the march on its second day in San Pablo, and while a core group would be marching all the way from Oakland to Sacramento, others would join along the way.

KCBS’ Bob Butler Reports:

Another group came to Civic Center Plaza from the nearby California State Office Building at 455 Golden Gate Ave. after having a teach-in there Thursday afternoon.

But about a dozen remained behind to continue occupying the state building even as the office workers went home for the day.

Around 6:30 p.m. that contingent of occupiers were escorted out of the building by officers and most appeared to be cited and released.

UC Santa Cruz protest, Occupy

Student protesters demonstrate outside the UC Santa Cruz campus during an Occupy Day of Action, March 1, 2012. (CSS)

Earlier on Thursday, protesters at the University of California at Santa Cruz managed to significantly disrupt campus operations, blocking staff and faculty from getting to work and causing class cancellations, a university spokesman said.

Protesters gathered early Thursday morning at each of the campus’ two entrances to block cars from getting through, UC Santa Cruz spokesman Jim Burns said.

“There are enough people in each of those entrances to prevent cars from entering,” Burns said. “Once we recognized this was going to happen as advertised, we communicated to our own people not to bring cars to campus; they’re not going to be able to.”

Burns said Thursday morning that 200 or 300 people were participating in the protests, standing outside in the cold rain.

At the University of California at Berkeley, protesters held their own open university Thursday morning, and began gathering outside California Hall at 8 a.m.

Protesters had planned to march to Oakland’s Frank Ogawa Plaza to join an evening rally there at the site of the former Occupy Oakland camp.

At California State University Monterey Bay, protesters held an “Occupy Education” rally at noon followed by a march.

Rallies and marches were also held at CSU East Bay in Hayward, San Jose State University, Sonoma State University and Santa Rosa Junior College.

Protesters from throughout the state will hold a larger, unified demonstration on Monday in Sacramento.

The “Occupy Education” rally will begin at 10 a.m. followed by a march to the state Capitol building. The daylong event will also feature nonviolent direct action training and another rally at the Capitol that evening.

(Copyright 2012 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

  • claptrap

    Blind leading the Blind

  • Clyde

    What I dont understand what right do you have of a education over High school.
    Its a privilege and I dont want to pay any more taxes on disrespectful ungracious children.
    If you cant pay dont go. Who says a plumber, electrician etc is not a rewarding carrier and life long job.

    • d

      well said. It’s not like they will be able to get a job with their education anyway.

  • Clyde

    Sorry meant Career. You kids upset your elders.
    You all want want want and dont give.

  • paheidi

    So only the rich should be able to go to college? What impact do you think that will have on the California economy?

    • d

      No impact, since they will have trouble finding work in their field of study. And the more people getting educated just means that much more competition. If less people went to school they would have no choice to lower tuition. Nowadays education does not necessarily equate to more money.

  • Darwin

    No idiot, not only the rich can go to college. But it is not FREE. I worked my way through college and it was difficult at times. I started college in 1988 and every year there were increases in tuition and costs. This has not stopped and those costs are continuing to increase. So, you can work or take out loans or whatever, but as the saying goes, “There’s no such thing as a free lunch.” Someone has to pay the bill.

    You are not ENTITLED to anything. You are not guaranteed happiness, but you are free to pursue it. You are not guaranteed a job. You have to work and earn it. You are not guaranteed a place to live. You have to earn money to pay for it. Are you seeing a trend? People actually have to work for what they have.

    I agree the richest people do not pay enough in taxes. I pay 33% of my income as tax. If I am paying that, then they sure as heck should be too. Just because they can afford all sorts of different tactics to shelter their incomes does not mean they should be able to do so. Our tax system needs a major overhaul.

    The government should also stop sending billions upon billions of dollars to countries and governments that want nothing more than the destruction of our system of government and way of life. Sorry, actions speak louder than words and I do seem to be hearing of bombs going off daily all over these wonderful countries that we have no business being in let alone dealing with.

    Its time to grow up and realize you aren’t going to get a trophy for participation any more.

    • paheidi

      First of all, Darwin, there is no need at all for name-calling. Please treat others with courtesy, even if their viewpoint differs from yours.

      Secondly, I don’t see anywhere in my writings or the protests of the students that asks for a FREE education. By working (sometimes 3 jobs) and loans, I paid my way through college and grad school also, and am certainly aware there are no free lunches. What the students are asking is that they not be priced out of an education. The increases in costs they have seen far surpass anything in the history of our state.

      California used to cover 80% of tuition (not fees, books and living expenses) through support to universities; we now cover ~50%. The future workers that drive our economy are educated predominately by public universities. To say a shortage of educated workers, D, will not impact our economy doesn’t jive with economic realities. And in terms of where our tax dollars go, we now spend infinitely more on prisoners than on students — talk about priorities.

  • Arthur Bailey

    Never a cop when ya need them.

  • MTM

    Many top Universities give large grants to disadvantaged families. It’s available if you’re willing to work for it.The middle class are the people who pay full price and public schools are a bargain.

  • Tours Martel

    I have always been grateful to the University of California at Berkeley for admitting me when they really didn’t want to. Being a white male I was forced to earn every grade (good or bad) and honor I received. Having worked 60-70 hours a week during the summer, as well as a part-time job in term, I emerged with a degree and no debt. In 1974 there was a deep but short-lived recession, so I served in North Africa in the Peace Corps. The lessons learned about hard work and sacrifice have been essential all my life.

    So I say to the students: Man up, and remember that the only place that you are guaranteed to find sympathy is in the dictionary.

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