By Sarah Springfield
Friday, March 5, 2010
LOS ANGELES-Immigration issues figured prominently in student protests staged at UCLA and UC Irvine Thursday.
A walkout on the UCLA campus was sparsely attended, but a rally that began at noon drew about 400 students and union members to Bruin Plaza near the main entrance to the campus. Though the demonstration addressed current budget challenges on campus, the majority of speakers at the rally referenced racially-charged incidents at UC San Diego and acts of vandalism at UC Davis as major causes for concern and catalysts to greater action.
“In L.A., the public schools are 75 percent Latino and 10 percent black,” said Adam Lerman, a organizer for affirmative action group By Any Means Necessary, at the protest. “We are in the middle of one of the most diverse cities in the country, and the campus needs to reflect that. L.A. is powder keg waiting to explode.”
Speakers said UC policies during the economic recession have limited the campus’s diversity. Amid chants of “Si, se puede,” activists called for greater acceptance of immigrant and undocumented students at the campus.
Afterward, the crowd broke up into smaller groups that continued to make their own way through campus, beating drums, dancing and chanting slogans.
According to UCLA spokesperson Phil Hampton, 200 students and union members then made their way to Murphy Hall, an administrative building which houses Chancellor Gene Block’s office. The demonstrators congregated in the hallway outside his office, urging him to accept demands, which Hampton said included changes to admissions procedures and a rolling back of student fee increases, worker furloughs and lay-offs.