Tuesday, November 12

Students demand to be heard


“Whose university? Our university.”

Student protesters chanted to the beat of a drum Wednesday at
the Rock the Regents Meeting rally where activists demanded their
voices be heard by the University of California’s governing
body.

Students were protesting during the UC Board of Regents’
bimonthly meeting, which was held on the UCLA campus Wednesday.

Organized by the Affirmative Action Coalition and sponsored by
the Undergraduate Students Association Council, the rally drew
students from several UC campuses. Activists rallied to demand the
UC regents allow students to have greater input in the decisions
that directly affect them.

“(The regents) act like they work for the government, but
in reality they work for the students, for the people of
California,” said rally leader Yousef Tajsar. Tajsar is also
a member of the Associated Students of UCLA board of directors.

Students convened at Royce Quad at 9:30 a.m. where student
leaders from the coalition and USAC stirred the crowd as the
leaders addressed student demands. The students then marched down
Bruin Walk, chanting as they worked their way to Covel Commons
where the regents were meeting.

The rally took an ugly turn as several student activists
attending the regent meeting were confronted by university police
officers after crossing the stanchion line into the private area
where the regents were sitting. Police officers used batons to push
the crowd back. Activists responded by pushing back.

Several activists involved in the altercation reported that
police officers struck them with their batons and grabbed their
arms. But the UCPD reported that the batons were used to hold back
the crowd.

A pressing issue activists wanted to address was that many
regent meetings have been held at UC San Francisco, the only campus
without an undergraduate population.

Because the meetings were held at UC San Francisco, students who
wanted to address their concerns had to go out of their way to
attend meetings, said Karen Salazar, chief of staff for the
internal vice president’s office and a member of the
Affirmative Action Coalition.

Salazar added that traveling entails spending money, which many
students cannot afford because of the student fee increases.

“(The regents) should be coming here because they work for
us,” Salazar said.

The regents will be holding a special meeting in February, and
activists demanded that the meeting be held at UCLA or another UC
campus in Southern California.

In the middle of the rally, Dynes stepped out of the meeting to
address the crowd.

“You’re a powerful and noisy group of people,”
Dynes said, drawing cheers from the protesters.

Rally leaders asked Dynes if he could publicly commit to the
students that the special February meeting be held at UCLA. Dynes
declined, saying he could not commit without consulting the rest of
the regents. Student activists plan to meet with Dynes later in the
year to follow up on the discussion over the special meeting
location.

Throughout the rally, activists also opposed enrollment caps and
called for a freeze on student fees and protection for student
outreach programs and comprehensive review in admissions.

Student activists from several UC campuses including UC Santa
Barbara, UC Irvine and UC San Diego attended the rally.

“People took the time off from midterms and papers to come
down here,” said Harish Nandagopal, the external vice
president of the Associated Students of UCSD.

As activists chanted “We’re fired up,” many
held signs asking the regents to prioritize education. Members of
the UC Berkeley group By Any Means Necessary held signs calling for
the resignation of UC Regent Ward Connerly.

Justin Williams, a third-year political science student and
member of the Bruin Republicans, was at the rally to
counter-protest, specifically to defend Connerly.

“(Connerly) has never voted to raise fees,” Williams
said. “He doesn’t deserve this because he’s done
nothing but to serve the students and has done his job very
well.”

Through the rally, other students like Frieda Kellener learned
about the issues for the first time.

“It’s amazing to see (the rally) because I
don’t know much about the issues,” said Kellener, a
first-year Spanish student. “I’m watching in awe and
hope they’re successful.”

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