MJC Students Walk-Out and Disrupt Mayoral Meeting
On Tuesday, March 8th hundreds of Modesto Junior College students walked-out of class to protest major cuts to the school budget, faculty lay-offs, and the raising of fees. The large crowd gathered in between the Student Center and the Administration building discussing the problems budget cuts were causing and making speeches to rally the growing crowd. Next to the crowd was an Army truck and tent, set up for the day to recruit for the armed forces, almost as if the school was saying “we’re gonna cut your education, but hey, there’s always the military!”
Soon after the protest went mobile, going around the campus, marching in and out of buildings, gaining numbers and the support of staff and students alike who applauded and cheered as the students chanted “No Cuts, No Fees, Education should be Free!” When it came time to march through the Morris Building (where most of the administration is located) security guards locked and guarded the doors, so the crowd instead circled the building, chanting “They Say Cut-Backs, We Say Fight Back!”
The march then headed to Downtown Modesto to spread the word to the community and got the added bonus of interrupting a meeting, in the 10th Street Plaza, of local mayors, city council members, and other people whose cars cost more than a college education. The voice of the students and community members, who addressed their grievances to the small group attending the mayor conference, drowned-out the speeches being made by politicians and the function was essentially shut down. As protesters were leaving downtown they were followed by Modesto police officers on foot, car, motorcycle, and dirt-bike (that’s right, dirt-bikes). After marching back to campus the crowd regrouped and discussed future action while campus security snapped photographs of protest participants.
According to http://modestoanarcho.org: “It was an important day for many reasons. Hundreds of students at Modesto Junior College walked out of class and rallied and marched for hours. Many faculty and staff were directly supportive of the walkout, allowing students to attend the event, promoting the event in class, and some faculty even shut their classes down so students could attend. The messages of solidarity that were expressed at the rally in front of the Morris building also did much to further the bonds between students and workers. The lack of fear that students expressed in the face of harassment by security and the administration who spent the last week intimidating students from joining the walkout, was inspiring. Students were also not afraid to hold the streets even as the police attempted to remove them. Nor were they afraid to stand up to the Mayor, Brand Hawn, and all the other city bureaucrats who slinked back into their rat holes in the face of a crowd of angry students. This resistance is only a sign of things to come as the crisis gets worse and working people must stand up and defend themselves. We welcome it. What happened today at MJC sets of precedent. Students came together and disrupted ‘business as usual’ at their school. They took action en mass at their college and in the streets. They did not back down in the face of the police or the administration. The struggle is far from over, but at least people have begun.”