At campus rally, eMails speak louder than chants

Student fees rose 32 percent at UC Santa Cruz last year.

This year, protesters at UC Santa Cruz have used marches, performance art, and poems to express their objections to successive budget cuts. But they can never be sure if their chants of “No More Cuts” reach the ears of the budget-makers in Sacramento.

So, on May 19, as part of a statewide campaign by Stand Up California, an advocacy group championing the tax extensions Gov. Jerry Brown is asking for to help balance the budget, rally organizers took a high-tech approach.

Those in attendance were invited to use laptops set up in UCSC’s Quarry Plaza to eMail state legislators.

“We like to call it an action-oriented rally,” Stand Up California coordinator Mary Gutierrez said. “We know the audience is tech-savvy, and we want to turn that into something positive. We tried the computers at a rally at a senior center once, and it didn’t go so well.”

Brown said recently that, despite improved state revenue projections, the UC system still faces a $500 million cut in state funding.

That figure could double if certain taxes set to expire this year are not renewed, and if the state implements an all-cuts budget. UCSC’s portion of the cut is roughly $31 million. An all-cuts budget would double that amount.

For 2010-11, UCSC received $170.8 million from the state, 30 percent of its total budget.

Layoffs will be a part of the cuts on campus, UCSC officials have said, but the details are still to come.

Some UCSC instructors stood at the rally holding pink pieces of paper with black, block letters reading “Pink Slip” to symbolize the employees who have lost their jobs, and those who will be unemployed by summer.

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