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University students plan day of protests and education

POSTED January 16, 2010 12:08 a.m.
A coalition of California State University, Stanislaus students groups, known as Warriors Fight Back!, hosted a campus-wide General Assembly on Friday to plan teach-ins, camp-outs, and marches for the statewide March 4 Strike and Day of Action To Defend Public Education.
Across the state, students and faculty are expected to walk out of classes on March 4 to conduct mass protests. Statewide organizers hope to convey the message that California’s universities and community colleges cannot endure more budget cuts, more layoffs or more fee hikes.
Locally, Warriors Fight Back! is also demanding the return of winter term, which is set to be discontinued in the 2010-2011 school year, and the dismissal of the President Hamid Shirvani administration.
More than 90 percent of the CSU Stanislaus General Faculty recently expressed no confidence in the performance and leadership of Shirvani.
While some campuses are expected to occupy administration buildings and hold disruptive rallies, each campus is responsible for drafting its own calendar of events for March 4 based upon local need and support. CSU Stanislaus students gathered at the General Assembly endorsed the idea of a more peaceful, instructional day of action.
“It’s intended to shut down business as usual to show everyone what’s going on. Not necessarily to make everything close,” said CSU Stanislaus student Melina Juarez, a Warriors Fight Back! organizer.
Participants at the General Assembly, who numbered about 50 despite the slow Winter Term, agreed to a calendar of events intended to educate and entertain the campus and neighboring community, which will kick off on March 3 when students will hold an overnight teach-in in the CSU Stanislaus quad.
On March 4, students and professors will hold classes in the quad to inform students about the budget crisis and to discuss strategies to solve the problems facing education. Additionally, many of the 108 faculty members who were not reappointed for the fall 2009 term are expected to teach classes to show the university just what has been lost due to cuts.
Some professors have already signed on to the outdoor education, agreeing to hold a “lab day” which invites students to attend the teach-in rather than regularly scheduled classes.
“For us, the main thing is the idea of keeping the university open, keeping the university supported, and having it be there as a resource for everyone,” said John Sarraillé, CSU Stanislaus professor of computer science and president of the faculty union.
Later in the day a public reception will be held, featuring performances by CSU Stanislaus music students and possibly a student art show.
Students also have a number of other activities planned for March 4, including marches, constant calling, e-mailing, and faxing of demands to administration, and protests outside the offices of local politicians.
Despite the list of events planned for March 4, organizers are ready to fight a long struggle to ensure the future of education is a bright one.
“March 4 is not going to solve our crisis,” said Alejandra Juarez, a CSU Stanislaus student and Warriors Fight Back! organizer. “We need to be realistic about that. March 4 is only the beginning.”
To contact Alex Cantatore, e-mail acantatore@turlockjournal.com or call 634-9141 ext. 2005.

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