Thursday, December 15, 2011

Report from Sacramento: Refund California and Support Peaceful Protests

The state hearing on student protests in the UC and UCSC system produced one tangible result: the promise of a follow-up hearing. Legislators were also given an earful from students who very effectively tied the question of police violence to the state’s failure to fund higher ed. Moreover, the state heard loud and clear that the governor’s tax initiative fails to support higher education and makes workers and middle-class families pay more during a time when they are making less.

One of the most interesting moments occurred after a CSU representative blamed outside agitators for the “mob” violence at the most recent CSU trustees meeting. Charlie Eaton from the UAW set the record straight and told the legislators that the CSU has just lied. Eaton stressed that three of the arrested students were from the CSUs and the other student was a UC student, and all charges were dropped after news video clearly showed a police broke the door window with his own baton.

Eaton also stated that the students are part of the Refund California movement, which is trying to make bankers and millionaires pay to restore funding for higher education. Furthermore, he stressed that the UC regents and CSU trustees are almost all members of the 1% who are failing to protect California’s master plan. The legislators then asked the student panel what should be done about the regents.

Several of us pointed out that there will only be more protests, and the recent protest rules handed down from UCR will only make things worse. We later leaned that the UCR Chancellor reversed course, and he decided to take back the new restrictions on demonstrations. This reversal is another sign that the UC and CSU administrations are now playing defense, and they are feeling quite vulnerable.

While the members of the Refund California are pushing for the CFT Millionaire’s tax, we may also want to consider the new initiative to tax oil extraction to fund higher education. It is clear that now is the time to push for a progressive agenda for California.


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