Students Demand Equality!

Revolutionary Worker #953, April 19, 1998

On April 2, over 500 students demonstrated at UC Berkeley. The demonstration, which was organized by the Students of Color Solidarity Council, demanded that the university take action to stop the ban on affirmative action. The students marched behind a banner which read "Stop Resegregation."

To the sound of loud chants and Native American drumming, the marchers went through the streets of Berkeley and down to Berkeley High where high school students joined in. Hundreds of students then staged a sit-in in the middle of a large intersection near the campus.

The demonstrators risked arrest as an act of civil disobedience--saying that justice often demands that laws be broken. Police did not arrest the students but instead blocked streets and diverted traffic over an eight-block area.

There was a lot of anger at the demonstration toward the hypocrisy of UC Berkeley Chancellor Berdahl, who claims to support affirmative action, while he carries out its destruction at UC. Demonstrators held signs reading: "Tired of Compliance. Time for Defiance!" One senior told the Daily Californian, "We're here to challenge Berdahl to take action to resist 209. He can say as much as he wants but we are angry as hell."

April 1 was a national day of protest to defend affirmative action. At least 60 universities nationwide participated in the national day of protest.

At UC Berkeley's Boalt Hall School of Law, 150 students staged a walkout to protest the decline in minority admissions. A law student told the Daily Cal, "This is an issue that's much bigger than Boalt or the University of Michigan. The message is that nationwide we are going to fight the regressive attack on affirmative action." MSNBC reported on demonstrations at New York University, Rutgers University, Columbia University, the University of Georgia and the University of Michigan as well as UC Berkeley. Another national day of protest is being organized for April 22.

1995--The UC regents end affirmative action in California college system
1996--Proposition 209 ended affirmative action in activities conducted by the state of California.
1998--The admissions of Black, Latino, and Native American students at UC-Berkeley are cut back 68%

"Let's get to the heart of the matter: This is America we're talking about--a country that has never been colorblind in how it deals with people. The quota for Black people in education in U.S. society was zero-- from the time they dragged the first African here in chains, up to the 1960s. The main qualification for getting a position in America--and this was straight-up out in the open--was to be a white male. `Don't even bother to apply if you don't fit this category.' That was the main qualification. And this is not a thing of the past. It is still overwhelmingly the case. But back then, they just wrote it down. Now they can't write it down, but the system still acts on this approach."

Carl Dix, national spokesperson of the RCP,USA

"This marks the beginning of the re-segregation of higher education. As an African American I feel uncomfortable enough right now, as it is."

A freshman U.C.-Berkeley

"It sends a strong message that this school is going to cater to a certain population and not open itself to the diverse population that is out there."

Marisa Galvan, a senior at U.C-Berkeley

This article is posted in English and Spanish on Revolutionary Worker Online
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