Mock graduation is latest protest against state budgets

By Cielestia Calbay

Donned in brightly colored cap and gowns, nine students from
Students for Quality Education walked in unison during a mock
graduation Tuesday during U-hour to demonstrate the devastating
impacts of the university’s budget cuts and fee increases.

Representing the “Class of 20??,” SQE and Movimiento Estudiantil
Chicano/a de Aztlen led the university’s biggest rally against the
budget cuts yet.

Organizers were determined to get students as involved with the
issue as possible; even history professor John Lloyd, also donned
in academic regalia, turned to directly address Greek members who
were gathered at their usual spot behind the pancakes by the
Marketplace.

“I want you to think about whether or not you think the CSU is
actually worth fighting for. Let’s keep the dream alive,” Lloyd
said to the Greeks, but they didn’t join in.

It seemed a handful of those who attended were left uninspired
to partake in the fight against the budgets. Even during a chant
led by SQE and MEChA member Chris Rodriguez, students neglected to
repeat, “kick us out, we’ll vote you out” as a message to
legislators.

“I can’t speak for disempowered students who are perhaps too
privileged to not feel the need to get involved,” said Rodriguez, a
seventh-year ethnic and women’s studies student. “Perhaps the
reason students today are so apathetic is because History 101
failed to teach them that student movements, like the ones that
swept across the globe in 1968, play major roles in broader social
movements. Cal Poly students should unite to start making these
same demands and even greater ones.”

The event, which took several weeks to plan and was funded by
the California Faculty Association and ASI, also aimed to enlighten
students about the privatization of education.

“[It was] to inform and empower students to get politically and
socially involved in taking back our university from the hands of
corrupt and greedy politicians and administrators, who are mainly
focused on profiting off the backs of … working-class students,”
according to Rodriguez.

Dozens of representatives from SQE, MEChA and the CFA were on
hand to motivate students to sign the Alliance for the CSU pledge
cards, to sign the SQE’s letter to state legislators and to
participate in the second phone bank to call the legislators as a
way to inform them of their decisions’ hard impacts on the quality
of education. Those who signed the Alliance card received a ticket
for free pizza, chips, cake and beverages, as well as free
Scantrons and blue examination books.

An estimated 350 pledge cards were signed, bringing the total
campus outreach campaign close to 2,100, according to Rodriguez. He
also estimates 150 calls were made to the legislators.

Additionally, organizers set up easels displaying a Poly Post
article on the College of Science’s budget and a spreadsheet of all
the courses that have reportedly been cancelled, among others.

SQE students also performed a skit, mocking situations in which
students could not get classes, graduate on time or afford to pay
tuition due to the fee increases. One actor pretended to cry
because he couldn’t enroll in a class. Another encouraged the
audience to walk out of classes that are overcrowded.

For Matt Wallister, a second-year mechanical engineering
student, attending the event was a way to support financial aid
students.

“I’m a Cal Grant recipient, so this will affect my financial
situations years from now,” said Wallister.

Rodriguez and other members of SQE will continue to motivate
students to take action against the budget crisis.

“Students should do whatever is in their capacity to get
actively involved in creating positive change for our university.
If they want to join our collective effort, that’s a good start,”
said Rodriguez. “The time is passing by for Cal Poly Pomona to wake
up and realize there is more to college than watching ‘The Hills’
and passing out at frat parties.”

Mock graduation is latest protest against state budgets

Mock graduation is latest protest against state budgets

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