Students, faculty plan walkout this week

By Greg Toumassian

Students and faculty aim to raise awareness of the negative
impact of budget cuts, furloughs and increased students fees with a
scheduled walkout and teach-in this Thursday at 11:20 a.m.

Ruben Vasquez, a third-year aerospace engineering student and
student organizer for the walkout, said the event should not be
regarded as just an objection to the current challenges facing
universities, but rather as a way to draw attention to the problems
while informing students.

“[The walk out] is not a protest, but a way to empower
ourselves,” said Vasquez.

“We’re not only going to be holding a walkout but a teach-in ”
we are coordinating this with faculty who have expressed interest
in walking.”

Students and professors involved in the walkout will congregate
in the University Quad for a scheduled “teach-in” at noon.

With the motto “Education is a Human Right,” event organizers
and the Pomona Chapter of the Students for Quality Education have
utilized fliers, e-mail and Facebook to publicize the event and to
encourage student and faculty involvement.

Tim Lynch, senior media communications coordinator, said while
administration remains neutral on the instance of the walkout, a
student’s right to expression is still highly regarded on Cal
Poly’s campus.

“Universities are historically places of academic freedom and
freedom to express oneself,” said Lynch. “In that tradition, we are
neither endorsing nor criticizing any form of protest.”

Gwen Urey, a professor of urban & regional planning and
president of the Cal Poly chapter of the California Faculty
Association, said she hopes lost time in the classroom on Thursday
will hopefully translate into a positive declaration by students
and faculty.

“I think the students have already been burdened with a lot of
sacrifices that they had no discretion over, like continuous fee
increases, reduced class offerings, faculty furlough,” said Urey.
“Leaving class 10 or 20 minutes early is a small sacrifice for the
benefit of being able to make a really big statement.”

Vasquez said he hopes the event will discredit Cal Poly’s
reputation for having a submissive student body.

“I don’t believe that students are passive or apathetic as some
would say,” said Vasquez.

“Combating the so called student apathy “when we are aware about
the issues, aware how we are being affected, how our futures are at
stake, everyone will be more open and more outspoken about what’s
going on.”

With the financial challenges impacting students, faculty and
staff, Lynch said no one is excluded from the hardship that comes
with the cuts.

“The university administration, like just about everybody on
campus is frustrated by the budget crisis. We are looking at
difficult times.”

Reach Greg Toumassian at: news@thepolypost.com

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