March 16, 2011

March 2 protests fight for education rights

By Kait McIntyre | March 4, 2011
Chicago, IL - Students in over 20 cities, including over a dozen SDS chapters, from Florida to California rallied on March 2 in support of education rights and unions in Wisconsin as part of a national day of action for accessible education.
Some campus demands focused on freezing tuition, reducing fees and cutting high administrator salaries. Others rallied to illustrate their solidarity with Wisconsin, where Governor Scott Walker is proposing to deny unions, including teachers’ unions, their collective bargaining rights and cutting funds for public education as part of his ‘budget plan.’
Students for a Democratic Society at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee joined with United Council of Wisconsin to create a statewide day of action on March 2. There was a walkout of over 2000 students and a faculty and staff feeder march to the student rally. A group of 75 later proceeded to occupy the theater building of the campus with the intention to stay overnight. Thousands in Madison have continued to occupy the capitol, in spite of massive security measures and concrete barriers. The students of University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee issued a statement declaring, “We stand in solidarity with the workers and students striking and occupying the Wisconsin State Capitol building. We demand immunity for all occupiers and strikers involved in these actions.” They also proclaimed solidarity with those in Egypt and all fighting against capitalism.
Campuses in Chicago also held actions in support of the struggle in Wisconsin. At University of Illinois-Chicago (UIC), Students for a Democratic Society circulated a petition supporting working families of Wisconsin and their statement surrounding the struggle for accessible education at UIC. Demanding tuition freezes, an end to budget cuts and quality, accessible, education for all while also maintaining solidarity with Wisconsin proved an effective measure for opening up conversation and raising awareness among several students on campus.
In Minneapolis, Minnesota, students demanded a tuition and fee freeze, an end to layoffs and that the cultural centers remain untouched. Administrators have proposed to dissolve the cultural centers’ space, located on the second floor of the student union, in an effort ‘reallocate space.’ Stephanie Taylor of SDS said, “These student groups and their rooms provide space for students to organize, collaborate and they also highlight the diversity of our urban campus. Today was a day to stand up once again and let the administration know that they will not shut the doors of the second floor!"
Actions to commemorate SDS’s national day for education rights also happened in Los Angeles, at the University of North Carolina-Asheville, El Centro Community College of Dallas, Diablo Valley College of California, the University of Oklahoma, Lake Braddock High School of Burke, Virginia, and University of North Texas.
March 2 continued an illustrious tradition of fighting for public education. Last year, students held protests on Oct. 7 and March 4 to protest budget cuts and tuition increases across the country.
More actions will continue throughout March addressing issues surrounding the banning of ethnic studies in Arizona, attacks on the public sector in Wisconsin and protesting the presence of the FBI on campuses nationwide.