California Student/Worker Demonstration against Student Debt and for $15/Hr. for Campus Workers

Marcelo Mendez

University of California, Santa Barbara experiences one of the nation’s largest turnouts for the November 12 nationwide Million Student March, where student-worker solidarity came to the fore – Editors.

Mendez-msm-photoSanta Barbara, CA — The Million Student March is a national student movement demanding tuition-free public college, abolition of all student debt, and a $15 minimum wage for college campus workers. On November 12th, the national day of action for the MSM, the movement crashed upon UC Santa Barbara’s sunny shores, with 1000 students gathering on Storke lawn to have the aforementioned demands heard, among other grievances. Students blocked bike pathways out of the sheer number of students in attendance, disgruntled students having to walk their bikes around the mass, some dropping or parking their bikes entirely to join the march. At 12:00 P.M., attention focused on a set of speakers from the student government, the Black Student Union, El Congreso (a Chicanx student group), and union workers, conversation lending itself to recent racial unrest in Mizzou, the crippling effects of student debt, the failure of UC administration in addressing the concerns of students while spending lavishly on themselves, the prison-industrial complex and its link to universities (and vice versa), the need for a broad student movement to work alongside labor (workers in the university especially), and other progressive topics. The conversations switched from single-speaker to call-and-response form, with students shouting “DAMN IT, JANET!” (a lambast against the UC president Janet Napolitano), “WHO’S UC? OUR UC!!” and a call to “WALK OUT!” A moment of silence was held for the fallen in Syria.

Curious onlookers from nearby buildings raised their hands in support as students caused an uproar throughout campus, banners hanging, posters drawn, flags flying, drums beating feet stomping hands clapping students shouting, the rousing sound of a march vibrating throughout campus (still reverberating in the hearts and minds of students), the march stopping at Cheadle Hall, the university’s administrative building. Once there, students posted how much debt they were encumbered by on placards reading “Do UC my debt?” UCSB’s Million Student March was the most publicized across the nation, news outlets like VICE lending an ear to the march.

A discussion on capital’s role as the root cause of these problems was absent. Missing also was a discussion of the climate. Nevertheless, what a march!

The momentum has not died down either. Students met this Monday (about 20 total) to discuss where the direction of the movement on campus will head, and what actions will be needed to make effective policy change. The need to listen to new and old voices was brought up so as to bring past lessons and new life into the movement. That such an action took place so early in the school year is a signal that exciting things are to come.




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