March 4 is a day of action for students in California. In the face of mounting tuition hikes, layoffs and budget cuts, student activists will stage walkouts, teach-ins and protests at schools across the Golden State.
The activities organized around the event, self-identified as a "strike and day of action," will take place across all 23 campuses in the California State University system as well as University of California schools and various private colleges. Based on the main organizers' website, the point is fairly simple:
The politicians and administrators say there is no money for education and social services. They say that "there is no alternative" to the cuts. But if there's money for wars, bank bailouts, and prisons, why is there no money for public education?
Some student activists have already started rallying behind the mission. Protests last week at Berkeley became violent with fires in the streets and police in riot gear. To the south, one student hung a noose from the library door in an apparently racist gesture that prompted further protests on that campus and CSU-Sacramento. She has since denied any claims that her actions were motivated by race.
The San Francisco Chronicle reports that Thursday's activities are motivated by recent outcries at problems with the existing system of student loans. As recently featured on HuffPost College, the amount of college loan debt is climbing to the hundreds of thousands of dollars for many students. According to the Chronicle's feature on the day of action, group of students and artists at San Francisco State are approaching the potentially grim topic with some sense of humor:
Rachel Kerns, a sophomore at San Francisco State, recently put final touches on a 12-foot papier-mache "Draculator." It's one of four huge, in-your-face puppets that students, theater Professor Carlos Barón and artist Colette Crutcher are creating for Thursday's rally.
The group is building a traditional Mexican weeping figure called "La Llorona" to cry for students, dinosaur bones to signify the extinction of education, and a huge skeleton in a graduation cap.
Meanwhile, critics of the current student lending system insist that the regulation of lenders is in dire need of a massive overhaul. A recent series launched by the Huffington Post Investigative Fund in partnership with Columbia University Journalism School is following that process. Based on a recent article, the reform is set to put a stop to all government subsidies for both for-profit and nonprofit student lenders.
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