Coalition plans ‘day of action’ at UCSD

Staff and wire reports

Recent racial tensions have added weight to efforts to draw attention to the state of the University of California system, said an organizer of today’s rallies planned at UCSD as part of the National Day of Action to Defend Public Education.

Jose Fuste, a Ph.D. student in the Department of Ethnic Studies, said the activities, originally planned to focus on tuition increases and the UC budget crisis, have been in the works for several months. The group, UCSD Coalition for Educational Justice, includes students, faculty, staff and union representatives.

They are working “through internal channels” and with the administration and the faculty is trying to intervene through the faculty senate to make sure that UC’s budget is distributed fairly and departments aren’t eliminated, Fuste said.

As the “day of action” was being finalized earlier in the week, a student who says she hung a noose in the library at UCSD has apologized in a letter published in the UCSD Guardian, a student-run newspaper.

The noose was found on Feb. 25, less than two weeks after an off- campus party dubbed the “Compton Cookout” was held during Black History Month that has led to the current situation.

“I know what I did was offensive — regardless of my intentions — I am trying to say I’m sorry,’' the student wrote in an unsigned 10-paragraph letter. She was identified as a minority student, although her ethnicity was not released.

In a note to readers, the Guardian said it had verified the authenticity of the letter. Campus authorities said details in the letter are consistent with what they know about the recent incident, The San Diego Union-Tribune reported.

Meanwhile, UCSD officials continued to meet with representatives of the Black Student Union and campus leadership, and the administration said it has already taken several steps in an attempt to reduce tensions.

A statement from Chancellor Marye Anne Fox issued after a March 1 meeting stated, “We, the campus community, are committed to making meaningful changes that will enhance the diversity of the campus environment, develop a multicultural curriculum and increase the diversity of our students, staff and faculty.”

Today’s activities are part of a statewide movement planned to draw attention to cuts in public education. The state’s budget crisis has already meant cuts of more than $2 billion from the UC and California State University systems and fee increases of more than 30 percent, according to the chancellor’s office.

Events planned at UCSD include a news conference, followed by a march beginning at 11:30 a.m. at the Gilman Drive parking structure at the corner of La Jolla Village Drive. The group will move to Library Walk in front of the Geisel Library where a rally is planned with speakers and performers.

After that, they plan to meet at Balboa Park to walk to the state building on Front Street.

“The coalition started at the end of last summer,” Fuste said. It was originally just students who walked out of classes in September to draw attention to the budget crisis and has expanded to include other campus groups.

The group, which has invited legislators to campus to talk about the situation later this month, also is asking professors and teaching assistants to “teach their classes outside as a sign of solidarity with the March 4 protesters,” a news release states.

— City News Service contributed to this report