On Thursday, Jan. 21, members of the University of Massachusetts Student Government Association (SGA) met to decide on a course of action for the “March 4 National Day of Action to Defend Education.”
The National Day of Action to Defend Education is an attempt at a national movement by students to raise awareness of the problems that educational institutions are faced with during the nation’s economic crisis.
Members of the SGA discussed possibilities to aid this national effort such as creating fliers and posters outlining facts and statistics about the University’s budget cuts, working with other registered student organizations to plan awareness events and creating a word-of-mouth campaign. In order to hear out the views of all those present, the committee sat in a circle and each individual was given the opportunity to speak in a “go around.”
One member suggested that a rally outside of UMass’ Whitmore Administrative Building be thrown; another individual suggested that a message could be sent to administrators by having a proposed ‘sit-in’ on March 4 inside Whitmore or a ‘study-out’ protest during which students would bring desks and chairs outdoors.
The group formed five subcommittees to tackle the responsibilities of planning this event. The subcommittees were pedagogy and consciousness, action planning, outreach and education, continuing organization and media.
Although plans were not finalized, the group agreed to convene again next week to flesh out more of the details.
According to the Day of Action to Defend Education: UMass Amherst Coalition Facebook group, created by Don Lippincott, who was present at the SGA meeting on Jan. 21, this movement is in support of the students, faculty and staff of the University of California system who protested the budget cuts announced by California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger.
According to an article posted on Jan. 1 on the International Labor Communications Association website, the budget cuts in California consisted of reducing “[California State University] funding by $500 million, [University of California] by $800 million, and the community colleges by $700 million.”
Lippincott’s Facebook group used information found on the National Day of Action to Defend Education website, http://www.defendeducation.org/, to elaborate on its relationship to the events in California. According to the website, “in California, students, teachers, workers, parents, and faculty have taken action against these attacks.” The site also states that “they took to the streets in a one-day strike on September 24, organized strikes and actions across the state during the University of California Board of Regents meeting from November 18 to 20, and have called for a state-wide day of action on March 4.” The Day of Action site further says that “these actions have created a broad mass movement in California, drawing in students from all over the state to create a powerful struggle. As the effects of the economic crisis continue to spread into the education system nationally, it’s time to join our voices with students and workers in California and draw inspiration from their example.”
Multiple Facebook groups similar to Lippincott’s are dedicated to promoting this movement and summarizing the problems facing American education with the following statement given on The National Day of Action to Defend Education website: “As people throughout the country struggle under the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression, public education from pre-K to higher and adult education is threatened by budget cuts, layoffs, privatization, tuition and fee increases and other attacks.”
Alyssa Creamer can be reached at [email protected]