The South Bowl of UC Merced was filled with black suits and ties featuring the chancellor, board of directors, and professors/students who all came together to watch the groundbreaking ceremony for the 2020 project. While the ceremonial 2020 project was undergoing, approximately thirty students were rallied together yelling chanting: “Power to the Students,” “Power to minorities,” “2020 or bust, we choose bust,” “Stop privatization of our education,” “We demand dignity and respect,” “We’re fired up, can’t take it no more,” and, “Bust 2020.”
A collective number of charged students were protesting the groundbreaking ceremony to increase awareness and have administration recognize the damage being done to the student body as a whole by ignoring current student needs and pushing them back for the 2020 plan. In an interview with Carlos Guadarrama, the External Vice President of ASUCM, he explained why students are and should be upset.
“I stand in solidarity with what our students are doing…administration has lost sight of the students that are here now, over the past years whenever we are lacking a recourse, whenever we are lacking funding, we are told that it’s going to be dealt with in the 2020 plan, and that is not enough for our students,” Guadarrama explained. “There is going to be an entire cohort of UC Merced Bobcats who are going to go without resources, without funding for mental health services, without ethnic studies, which is vital for our diverse community. Diversity is not anti-oppression on our campus. If you look at [the protestors’] demands they’re totally reasonable and valid. These students came to protest the 2020 plan, we want administration to look at what they’re doing for our students now.”
Overall, students are upset about administration ignoring current student needs and claiming problems such as funding for mental health, LGBTQ+ initiatives, social justice programs, ethnic studies, lack of cultural resource centers, diverse faculty that fail to represent the current student population, and that enrollment should be halted until these basic needs are met. A full list of demands made by UPRISE (Uplifting People Power to Resolve Issues of Space and Equity) can be found here.
Photo Credit: Maria Talania and Marcus Fox