Hundreds rally against cuts



Hundreds of people attended a March 4 rally and concert at DVC to protest the statewide budget cuts to education.

The nearly four-hour event – which included speeches from students, teachers, and political activists – ended with a march around the school and extended across the street to the sidewalk of College Park High School.

Afterwards, some participants headed for a larger rally in San Francisco during the evening.

“This is probably the largest DVC rally in history,” said Frank Runninghorse, a longtime DVC student and member of Students for a Democratic Society, the club that sponsored the rally.

SDS adviser and political science professor Mickey Huff said he was pleased with the turnout.

“I think it’s raising awareness,” he said. “It’s showing students they’re not alone in their worries and concerns.”

The rally began at 11 a.m., with banners and picket signs bearing slogans like “Fund education, not imperial occupation,” “An injury to one is an injury to all,” and “Stop fee hikes, terminate Ah-nuld.”

The chanting gave way to the band Running Horse, which played a number of cover songs, before ceding the stage to Jeffrey Michels, president of the United Faculty, the union that represents faculty in the three-campus Contra Costa Community College District.

Michels told the crowd it was everyone’s civic responsibility to stop cuts to education.

Other faculty and staff speakers included student life manager Adriana Lopez, music professor Glenn Appell,
sociology professor Andy Barlow, and political science professor Huff.

The mostly jubilant crowd erupted in cheers when Appell declared, “Tax the corporations, not the student.”

Huff, one of the keynote speakers said, “These budget cuts affect everybody, and the reality is that the sooner everybody realizes that, the sooner maybe people in Sacramento will get that message.”

A number of students also spoke, including Marc Lichterman, 17, who said the cuts affected him personally.

“I don’t have a ton of money,” he said. “If it keeps on getting more and more expensive, I won’t be able to afford this anymore.”

In an interview with The Inquirer during the rally, sociology major Jhary Bornio, 21, said the budget cuts to the school affected everyone she knew.

“Ever since I’ve started at DVC, everything has gone up,” she said. “It seems like we’re getting less and less help from the government.”

Fine arts major Ian Humphries, 19, said he’d be stuck at DVC an extra year because of the lack of classes, and the cost.

“I couldn’t take three classes for my major because of the prices,” he said.

The rally also brought a number of different clubs together, and helped emphasize the event was about more than education cuts.

Keith Montes, president of the Latino Student Alliance, spoke about immigration reform, and Queer Straight Alliance President Kimberly Mendoza discussed the need for equality and respect, regardless of sexual orientation, race, or class.

While most agreed with the message of the rally and the SDS agenda, Alex Levin, 19, said, “The way they try to get their message across through loud and histrionic speeches is not the way to get the people to support them.”

A number of district police were at the event, most of them covering the deck near the Norseman and the front of the school.

During the rally, someone pulled fire alarms in several buildings at about 1 p.m., leading to evacuations across campus.

SDS did not take credit for the action.

The rally lead way to marching just before 2 p.m. as more than a hundred protestors headed towards the Humanities building chanting, “Whose rights? Our rights!”

The crowd moved through campus before heading back to the Main Quad for more speeches.

The police followed from behind, but kept their distance.

Later, the protestors marched through the Physical Education building and then into the Humanities building as fire alarms sounded, urging students to leave classes and join them. They also marched to the sidewalks at College Park
High School on Viking Drive as organizers shouted for them to “keep moving.”

After the rally more than 70 people got onto a charter bus, organized by SDS for a larger rally in San Francisco.

Once there, they joined thousands of protestors at City Hall for more speakers, moving towards the front of the rally with their signs and two large, red banners.

DVC organizers saw the day as a success.

“I thought it was a day of connection and realization,” said SDS member Nick Holmes. “It is this day, March 4, that we started our connection and growth.”


Contact Jonathan Roisman at [email protected]