Kat Anderson is a graduate of Hastings College of the Law and Stanford University. She has made San Francisco her home since 1988.
As many as 200 students called on San Francisco State University President Robert Corrigan yesterday to sign a letter rejecting a CSU trustees-approved 9 percent hike in tuition fees. Photos by Luke Thomas.
Two hundred San Francisco State University students gathered at Malcolm X Plaza yesterday to protest yet another tuition fee increase approved by CSU trustees. The 9 percent hike will take effect in Fall 2012, amounting to an average increase of $500 per student, per semester.
The latest 9 percent fee increase adds to a 12 percent hike approved in July.
The OccupySFSU students proclaimed solidarity with Occupy movements everywhere. In turn, several OccupySF activists participated in the students’ demonstration and helped set up the encampment at Malcolm X Plaza, which started its first night after the rally and march. Among the speakers was Sean Semans, who has been an OccupySF resident for weeks. He carries an 18-unit course load at SFSU. He explained that he cannot afford to miss any more school especially given the high cost of his education, so he is helping to set up the encampment at SFSU and will participate in the OccupySFSU General Assembly. Semans warned students there is a hidden cost associated with the fee increases: increases to the interest rate on unsubsidized student loans.
Another OccupySF activist, “Magick,” called for an occupation of the entire city. She pointed out that every movement that has been successful has been so because of the support of students. “America has been dumbed down…to laborers and consumers,” she said. “We need to change that. Let’s use our critical thinking.” Key to the movement’s success, according to Magick, is consensus-based democracy.
Magick, an activist and organizer, said under the US capitalist system, "humans are expendable," that corporations exploit labor with the acquiescence of corrupt politicians.
A student speaker said, “We are here today to remind our administration of who truly runs the university – us, the students and the faculty and staff. It is we who operate this community…We are reawakening the radical spirits of this university. Join us!”
Senator Leland Yee’s staffer, Melissa Apuya, brought greetings from the Senator and explained that he introduced legislation to make sure that activity that would be legal for a person to engage in on public property would remain legal on public university property and that there should be no student discipline for engaging in such activity.
“Dylan,” a Spartacus Youth Club member proclaimed that all education should be free and that campuses should be controlled by students, teachers and workers. He closed by saying that “capitalist Democrats” are just as dangerous as Republicans.
The protesters marched on the Cesar Chavez Student Center while shouting, “We are the 99 percent.” Standing before two Chase bank ATMs, speakers declared that executives of big banks and corporations (which include trustees and regents of CSU and UC) use their influence to keep from funding the needs of the state. “Cuts to education in this state are a political choice; not a necessity,” shouted one student.
SFSU students target two Chase Bank ATMs, wrapping them in cling film.
As the crowd shouted, “Banks got bailed out, we got sold out,” several students wrapped cling wrap around the Chase ATMs to bar access. Next, the group headed across campus to the Wells Fargo and Bank of America ATMs. Students passed out flyers entitled “Meet the 1%” containing images of Monica Lozano and Bill Hauck. Lozano is a UC Regent and Bank of America board member. In her role as BofA board member, Lozano presided over thousands of foreclosures, the flyer states.
“It is estimated our state has lost $4 billion in property tax revenues – money that could have gone to fund public education and essential services…BofA is one of the top-5 private sellers of student loans and holds a sizable chunk of the nation’s $1 trillion dollar student loan debt,” the flyer reads.
Bill Hauck is a CSU Trustee and former President of the California Business Roundtable, “an organization dedicated to advancing the interests of big business in California that claims 23 corporate members including Wells Fargo.” Wells Fargo received $369 billion in federal taxpayer bailout funds, has profited $32.4 billion since the bailout, and paid $27.2 billion in 2010 bonuses and compensation, according to the flyer.
The student protesters then covered the BofA and Wells Fargo ATMs with the Lozano and Hauck “Meet the 1%” flyers “to remind you all of their bad deeds.” Students waiting to use the ATMs were urged to take their money out of the “big banks” and join a credit union. It was declared that “every day is bank transfer day. Tell the banks ‘fuck you,’ you can’t have my money!”
SFSU students affix "Meet the 1%" flyers to Wells Fargo and Bank of America ATMs.
Next, the students mobilized in front of the Administration building. They clarified their demands: reverse CSU’s 283 percent increase in tuition fees since 2002; rehire the 4,000 CSU faculty terminated since 2008; reduce class sizes and restore canceled classes; cap CSU executive salaries and bonuses; reinstate affirmative action to ensure access for all students. They read aloud an open letter to CSU President Robert Corrigan.
Corrigan came out to speak with the students. They urged him to work to reverse the tuition increases. Corrigan refused, laying blame at the feet of Sacramento legislators who refuse to raise taxes and who voted for deep spending cuts in education, including $650 million in cuts to the CSU budget. Corrigan sees tuition hikes as the only solution short of changing the attitudes of the legislators, especially the Republicans.
SFSU President Robert Corrigan responds to questions posed by students. He said the SFSU budget has been reduced by the California Assembly to 1998 levels. "The money's got to come from some place," he said. Questions posed to SFSU President Robert Corrigan were broadcast live (online) by SFSU students.
The OccupySFSU General Assembly meets every Monday and Thursday at noon. See [www.occupysfsu.org] for more information.
SFSU students began their rally and protest at Malcolm X Plaza.
SFSU students continue their protest inside Cesar Chavez Student Center.
SFSU students listen attentively to SFSU President Robert Corrigan.
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SFSU students set up up their OccupySFSU protest encampment outside Cesar Chavez Student Center.