Monday, October 23

Tent city at UCLA hosts protesters from across the state


Cristina Chang / Daily Bruin

Participants from college campuses around the state gathered Wednesday night for Crisis Fest, a tent city stationed outside Wilson Plaza that hosted students, alumni, faculty and workers planning to demonstrate outside today’s UC Board of Regents meeting.

“We’re creating a group of people in solidarity and together, try to combat privatization of college,” said Chris Wohlers, a fourth-year physics and environmental studies student at Pitzer College. “(Crisis Fest challenges) the idea that education is an excursion you go to for a few years, a rite of passage for the privileged few.”

Wohlers said he helped coordinate the event by finding bands to perform, organizing carpools, and going door-to-door in dormitories to persuade students to attend. Workers and students, many of them from other campuses, also brought their tents to stay on campus for the night.

Gracelynn West, the student government External Vice President at UC San Diego, drove more than two hours from La Jolla to attend Crisis Fest.

She said she organized a database of more than 100 UCSD students to participate in the protest before the regents vote on the proposed 32 percent increase in student fees. West said she was excited to see students come together from all across California to protest the proposed fee hikes.

Elise Youn, a graduate student in urban planning at UCLA, said that members of unions that represent workers who would be laid off were also present at Crisis Fest.

Represented unions included the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, the American Federation of Teachers, and the United Auto Workers. Youn said that some participants arrived courtesy of free bus rides offered by the unions.

Consuelo Ruiz, a custodian at Santa Monica-UCLA Medical Center, came with other members of AFSCME. After she finished her shift in the afternoon, she came by a bus provided by AFSCME to participate in Crisis Fest.

Ruiz said that she attended out of concern for the future of her family and the people she works with, as well as to show solidarity with the students.

Some participants spent the night preparing signboards. UC Santa Barbara alumnus Benjamin Wood spray-painted “No Business As Usual” on a poster and said that the message reflects how the regents were turning a UC education into a private business instead of serving public education.

Discussion groups and workshops were hosted throughout the night for people to get together and talk about any topic of interest, relating to the budget cuts or not, said Yu-Ting Huang, a graduate student in comparative literature and an organizer of the event.

The discussions ranged from K-12 education and student movements, to poetry and vegan dessert-making, Huang added. The goal is to provide a space for students to discuss their goals and feelings, she said.

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