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SJP and UC Divest Coalition Demonstrations at UCLA

Million Student March protestors demand university reforms

Protesters walked to the law school to protest the appearance of University of California President Janet Napolitano, where they joined a march for undocumented students. (Jintak Han/Daily Bruin)

By April Hoang

April 13, 2016 5:00 p.m.

Protesters marched through campus Wednesday to advocate for lowering tuition and adopting the new $15 hourly minimum wage immediately, among other university reforms.

About 20 UCLA students, alumni and workers chanted and spoke about issues such as mental health funding and sexual assault as a part of the Million Student March, organized by the community organization Socialist Alternative. Participants marched from Bruin Plaza to the UCLA School of Law.

Henry DeGroot, recruitment coordinator of the LA branch of Socialist Alternative and second-year political science student, said the club aimed to use the march to target a wide range of issues.

“We want to fight rape culture and build campus power,” DeGroot said. “It’s us against the administration.”

Socialist Alternative is a club that seeks to address social issues such as living wages and racial inequality.

DeGroot began the protest by calling on administrators to fire history professor Gabriel Piterberg, who allegedly sexually assaulted two UCLA graduate students. Piterberg reached a settlement with UCLA in March 2014 that will allow him to return to campus in the fall after one quarter of suspension without pay.

Hanna Burge, a UCLA alumna, said she thinks Piterberg faced inadequate penalties, which contributes to sexism on campus.

“This school’s failure to take sexual harassment seriously is an obstruction of (the right to learn),” Burge said.

The protesters then walked to the law school to protest the appearance of University of California President Janet Napolitano, where they joined a march for undocumented students organized by Improving Dreams, Equality, Access and Success at UCLA.

Alex Olivarres, a third-year political science student, said he attended the march to represent his club, Bruins for Bernie, as well as other students who do not feel they have a voice.

“Every student complains about tuition,” Olivarres said. “But there aren’t more people supporting (the protest).”

Joe Ackerman, a fourth-year English student who also works at UCLA, gave a speech urging the university to adopt the $15 hourly minimum wage immediately because he thinks UC employees are facing financial difficulties due to their current low wages.

“It’s absolutely ridiculous that the people who help to contribute to this school can barely get by themselves,” Ackerman said.

In May 2015, the Los Angeles City Council approved a measure to increase the city’s minimum wage to $15 by 2020.

DeGroot said he thinks the march united people from different groups to participate in one day of action, but the movement is not over.

“The political revolution will continue, beyond today and beyond this quarter,” DeGroot said.

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April Hoang | Campus Politics editor
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