By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Students lament cut classes, professors
Students, one by one, place tombstones bearing the names of cancelled classes into a coffin in the center of the quad.
A drum beat out a steady, solemn march in the California State University, Stanislaus quad Wednesday morning, as four students carried a coffin to the center of campus. More than 300 students, all clad in black, marched close behind, holding cardboard tombstones depicting the names of each of the 144 classes canceled in the most recent round of state budget cuts.
This mock funeral procession — A Day of Mourning — was intended to grieve CSU Stanislaus’ losses in a macabre commemoration of the “death” of the university education.
“It’s giving students an opportunity to mourn the classes that were lost,” said Franczeska Velez, a senior sociology major and secretary of the Sociology Club, which sponsored the event.
Velez said the students were inspired to hold their day of mourning by a class entitled, “The Sociology of Death.” It was there they learned that death isn’t just about dying; it’s about losing something — like the 60 faculty positions that were cut this semester.
Raul Cabrera III, a senior sociology major and president of the Sociology Club, was saddened to learn that one of his favorite professors, the one who taught Cabrera’s very first sociology course, was among those to lose his position with the university.
“We’re losing people and classes that do make a difference,” Cabrera said.
Despite the losses, students are being asked to pay fees nearly 32 percent higher per semester than last year. Additionally, furloughed professors must take eight days off per semester cutting back on many days of scheduled instruction for the classes that were not canceled.
As the procession came to a halt at a makeshift podium and public address system in the center of the quad, a campus police officer came to pull the plug on the amplified sound — and put a damper on the day of mourning.
“Screw it, let’s go,” said the student at the podium as the onlookers became louder to compensate.
According to Associated Students, Inc., the Sociology Club didn’t fill out the proper forms to have amplified sound.
The assembled students carried their class tombstones to the waiting coffin, one by one, and screamed out the names of discontinued classes like English 1000, Economics 4700, and Geology 2400. After each class was read, the hundreds of students belted out the word “canceled.”
June Dohner-Chavez, a junior majoring in sociology and Spanish, was among those to lose a class — one on alcoholism — and to feel firsthand the impact of the cuts. She hopes to go on to law school after graduating from CSU Stanislaus, but the canceled class will likely delay her graduation.
“Having these canceled classes is really affecting me,” Dohner-Chavez said. “I am spending more time and more money.”
Dohner-Chavez’s only alternative was to enroll in an online course, but she quickly dropped the class after seeing the lack of involvement and discussion that came with the web-based learning. Dohner-Chavez “didn’t come to a CSU to take an online course,” she said.
As the procession continued, the coffin filled and soon overflowed with tombstones. With the line of students dwindling, one final headstone was placed in the coffin, reading “Really bad university leadership,” and met with a resounding “canceled” from the assembled student body.
The purpose of Wednesday’s event was to unite the student body and to make students — and the university — aware of the impacts of the cuts, said organizers. According to onlookers, the demonstration had the desired effect.
“You have to know there’s a lot of pain being felt if this many students, from a commuter college, turn out,” said Sociology Professor Ann Strahm.
Organizers implored students to sign a petition — which will be presented to CSU Stanislaus President Hamid Shirvani at a Fee Increase Open Forum at 5 p.m. on Tuesday in the Carol Burke Lounge.
“Every single university is going through this,” said Jessie Duran, co-president of CSU Stanislaus Socialist Organizer. “If we don’t stand up, who will?”
And, with that, the beat of the drum started anew as the students proceeded away from the quad en masse, carrying the now tombstone-laden coffin, and returning to their remaining classes.
To contact Alex Cantatore, e-mail or call 634-9141 ext. 2005.