SANTA CRUZ, Calif. – Last Tuesday, UC Santa Cruz students, chained together in concrete-filled trash cans, block a California freeway causing a delay of over five-hours.
They were protesting against the proposed tuition hike by as much as 5 percent each over the next five years if state funding does not increase enough.
The protests ended Thursday.
It was calmer at UC Santa Cruz Thursday evening, but their stance on the increase in tuition hasn’t changed.
These Filipino American students at UC Santa Cruz say that though some of their classmates actions may have been extreme but it may the only way to get their message across.
“I definitely think there are other ways for students to get their voices heard but sometimes when you’re working with the administration and you’re trying to get your point across and they’re not listening to you, you have to take those big measures to be effective,” said psychology student Jessica Siasoco.
These students say that the UC system is creating more hardships for them and in turn robbing them of their education.
“The UC system has been over-admitting students so our bachelor degrees are starting to lose meaning since almost everyone is able to get it and if we’re investing more, we’re kind of losing more,” said biology student Kris Lapu.
“Not only do they have to go to school and worry about, ‘I need my financial aid, I need my grants, I need my scholarships, but I still owe banks money.’ It just creates more stress that shouldn’t be needed,” said Katherine Aranda, who studies film and business.
They also feel that President Barack Obama’s plan to help alleviate costly tuition through free community college is only putting off the eventual financial hardship a student will face when transferring.
“What happens after community college if you decide to go to UCLA,” asks Aranda. “It’s still inaccessible.”
These Fil-Am students say that the real victims are their parents who struggle to allow them to attend a UC.
“We aren’t getting what our parents are paying for and you wish to relieve that burden off of them while that burden is still on you too,” said Siasoco.
While students and their advocates continue to fight with the UC system, these Fil-Ams say it is hard being optimistic about the resolution of this issue.
“This is a problem that is address and will always be addressed but I feel there isn’t always a real solution to it,” said Gordon Tse, a biology student. “Both parties have to work both ways but I just don’t see it being fixed any time soon.”
These Filipino American students say they do not believe that blocking highways may be the best answer to raise awareness about the tuition hikes but they do hope that the UC system and the government is at least considering their concerns.
You can contact Rommel Conclara at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @rommelconclara for more information.