Hundreds of Cal State Long Beach students gathered on the quad Thursday to protest rising tuition and what organizers called privatization of the campus. Some students were also drawn by the musical performers at the lunchtime rally, which was staged as part of a statewide protest at Cal State campuses meant to rev up demonstrators for Monday's Occupy the Capitol.
The Long Beach rally, peaceful and more like a festival with various sympathetic groups such as Occupy Long Beach and local labor unions, mostly filled the grassy quad and crowd estimates ranged from 400 to 700 in attendance.
Erika Flores, an undergrad student in Chicano Studies, and Donnie Bessom, a graduate student, both campus rally organizers, said they were happy with the lunchtime event.
"It could have been bigger," Bessom, an academic tutor employed by CSULB and a labor organizer, said with a smile. "But we're happy. Honestly? I think some of our demostrators are saving their energy for Monday's Occupy the Capitol."
About 300 Cal State Los Angeles students walked out of class at 10 a.m. Organizers estimated about 150 staged a sit-in at the bookstore, where three administrators separately visited and spoke with students, who later occupied a vice president's office.
"The students did that on their own; we didn't plan that," said Nakia Brazier of Cal State L.A. "We wanted the college President to sign a letter promising to defend public education, like the president did at [Cal State] Fullerton. But we did get the vice president of academic success to agree to try to set something up with our president."
She said Cal State Los Angeles' student group, like most staging campus rallies, are outraged about high salaries of CSU brass at the expense of students. She cited an $80 Student Success Fee she said pays for consultants on how to improve graduation rates--increasing.
"The more our fees go up the more their salaries bgo up," said Brazier of students and administrators. The student movement belief is "that we're paying the salary raises of our top paid admin executives with our tution and fees."
At Long Beach, no demands were made, but more students were involved, if only as audience. A band called Coverlove (featuring sometime Patch videographer Shann Gilfix, coincidentally) warmed up the crowd at noon, followed by speakers that began with Jeff Klaus, interim dean of students. Perhaps the biggest applause went to James Suazo, president of the College of Liberal Arts Student Council.
A teach-in by faculty didn't coalesce because students had dispersed after about 90 minutes, however, the Philipino-American Coalition of cultural dancers were said to have performed a Flash Mob at about 2:45 p.m.
Teri Yamada, an Asian Studies professor, is the CSULB faculty representative for California Faculty Assn., the union representing 23,000 faculty. She attended Thursday's Long Beach rally and felt it had gone "very peacefully."
She estimated 600 to 700 people attended, including sympathetic faculty and campus staff.other faculty.
The Los Angeles Times reported that "there were also protests at Cal State campuses in Fullerton, Dominguez Hills, Northridge, Bakersfield and San Francisco and UC campuses at Davis and Berkeley. Related activities, some involving high school students, were planned in Austin, Texas, Boston, Chicago, New York and elsewhere. Organizers included unions, student coalitions, the ReFund California group and Occupy-related groups."
A very large march on Sacramento is planned for Monday called Occupy the Capitol, in which students from UC Berkely are said to be walking from that campus to the statehouse.