On college campuses across the United States, students, teachers and activists organized to participate in the Nation Day of Action for Education this past Thursday March 1st, 2012. The day of action was supported by many Occupations across the country, including Occupy Wall Street and Occupy San Francisco and the New York General Assembly.
Locally, students from Dutchess Community College and Vassar College all participated in solidarity to rally up their fellow students and professors to spread awareness and speak out against recent education cuts. The walk-outs included guest speakers, on campus mic-checks, flyering and great discussions allowed people to share their knowledge and personal stories about education.
Dutchess Community College student Stephen Geiner standing aside 30 or so students from the local colleges was interviewed by Mid-Hudson News explaining his concerns at Hulme Park where Occupy Poughkeepsie once had it’s encampment.
The SUNY 20-20 plan that actually Governor Cuomo signed recently raises tuition $300 to $500 a year under this plan and that’s not very good for the person who is working two or three jobs and cannot afford a way to stay in school,” he said.
New York Students Rising gathered at the capital a few days later on March 5th, to demand that Albany Repeal the SUNY2020 bill. They demand, “the State Assembly and Senate implement a tuition freeze and truly represent us,” and “a full restoration and expansion of state funding to CUNY and SUNY, TAP, and EOP.” Buses made trips from New Paltz, Binghamton, and Purchase, shuttling students to the capital to fight for their education. A handful students were arrested outside governor Cuomo’s office. Students have a right to education as a protestors banner said. Over the past four years 1.4 billion dollars has been cut from SUNY funding.
Across the country students, unions, and professors gathered from the West Coast to The University of South Florida. Students over seas also stood up for education. University of California at Santa Cruz actually managed to shut down one of the main entrances to the college.
Hundreds of students gathered at UC Santa Cruz including Josh Brahinsky, a graduate student and union representative who helped organize the action. Brahinsky told the Huffigton Post,
“We’ve destroyed our tax base and we stopped funding the most important parts of our society. We’re calling on the state to tax the wealthy and use that money to build services for all of us.”
In Barcelona, Spain two days after the March 1st Day of Action, tens of thousands of students marched in solidarity with support from students in the United States. The New York Students Rising made a statement to support the mass actions in Barcelona and Valencia, Spain against
We stand in active solidarity with the students and people of Valencia, Spain. and condemn the arrests and beating of peaceful protesters taking a stand against cuts to education. The issues the students in Valencia address are ones that speak to the global nature of our struggle. All over the world we see local governments fail to fund universities, schools, and the other basic needs of the people.As people begin to protest and resist injustices, police attempt to repress the emergence of true democracy led by the people.
Students in the U.S. are really starting to participate in fighting for their rights and having a say in their governing bodies, whereas students in France, Cuba, and South America seem to stand up whenever they get the chance. For the past ten months Chilean high school students have been active shutting down classrooms, organizing massive street protests and refused to go to school. Young people deserve an education and so do forty year old’s who need to reeducate to return to the work force after being let go. Kalila Bohsali, a junior at the age of fifteen has been participating in an after school program targeted at protesting education budget buts and expanding the Vista Grande High School curriculum in New Mexico.
Education is taken for granted in our country. It’s a constant for us. Something most people don’t think or care about once they graduate. But we don’t realize how many countries don’t have the funding for a free school system like ours. So why isn’t it a priority to take it a step further and create an education system that doesn’t fail students, but supports growth, tries to understand individuality. For a country that claims to be so advanced, our education system is becoming a failure, turning our students into failures and failing our dreams.