About 50 people gathered along Ring Road on the UC Irvine campus Wednesday to address recent protests against budget cuts and the tense racial climate since protesters shouted down an Israeli ambassador’s speech last month.
Organizers wanted the event to be a safe space for students to express their concerns about the fiscal crisis as well as the racist events that have occurred at UC San Diego and UC Davis. Although these events may seem unrelated, many of the group contended that both are a common struggle for equality and respect from the university.
Unlike last week, when students demonstrated outside the administration building, waving flags and shouting slogans, the mood at Wednesday’s meeting was calm and cooperative as students shared concerns and tried to come up with solutions for future demonstrations. Strong opposing viewpoints were applauded by both sides and the sound of a bongo acted as a quiet appreciation for participating in an important dialogue.
“I think there is a commonality to this struggle. I think what everyone is fighting for their basic human rights,” Ana Baginski, a UCI freshman, said. “Everyone has a right to education. They also have a right to learn in an environment where they won’t be persecuted… Where they’ll be allowed to speak their mind and where they’re not going to be judged or harassed for their religion, race or ethnicity.”