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04.29.09

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Nūz: Santa Cruz County News Briefs

It's meta-community organizing as Community Studies students vow to keep their major intact.

Organizing the Organizers

In what was called "the first of many demonstrations," students and professors marched at UCSC Wednesday afternoon, vowing to continue to fight against rumored plans by the university to cut the Community Studies program from its curriculum. Thrusting up handmade signs reading "Take Back Our University" and "Without Community, What's Left?" and shouting slogans like "Whose university? Our university!" the group of about 200 protesters chanted and walked from Quarry Plaza to the outside of Executive Vice Chancellor David Kliger's office at Kerr Hall after a rousing set of speeches by several students and lecturers.

"The new generation is you. You are the first generation since the '60s that has cared about social justice more than personal gain, and it's time to fight for our beliefs," said Susanne Jonas, a 24-year UCSC professor and the founder of the school's Latin American and Latino studies program. "We're going to have to work very fast in making your voice heard. I hope you all will go out there because you want to save your education."

The students and profs have been in an uproar since the first week of April, when several professors were called to a meeting with Kliger, dean of Social Services Sheldon Kamieniecki and other senior staff and told that the department could face elimination due to budget cuts. The 40-year-old program trains students to become community organizers and nonprofit professionals and is seen by many as a defining discipline of the university.

Many students, like freshman politics major Ian Steinman, see the cuts as an attack against the activist community itself. "I've realized that everything progressive, everything valuable at this university was fought for, often for a long time, though hard struggle and against the bureaucracy of the administration," said Steinman to the cheers of other students. "They have taken away everything they can with a process that did not start with these cuts and will not end with these cuts. They haven't been doing this because they are starved of funds; they've been doing this as a program to systematically disarm the left on campus."

School officials have denied any plans to ax the major but have said UCSC must make "drastic cuts" to remain solvent. More protests, including a "Teach Out" rally supporting nontenured lecturers April 30, are in the works and can be viewed at the Coalition to Save Community Studies Facebook page at www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=150382125028.

For more news, visit www.santacruz.com and click on 'Local news.'


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