UC students and protesters were expected to return to Sproul Plaza Thursday evening to stage what they're calling a "sleepout." Earlier, they held a rally and a march. "We are unstoppable. Another world is possible," the marchers chanted. The mood seemed festive as a couple hundred demonstrators marched from UC Berkeley Sproul Plaza, but the message was a serious one.
"Tuesday night was a victory for public education in California," one speaker told the crowd. Two days after California voters passed Proposition 30 to raise taxes for public education, the students want to see the results where it counts, on the campuses and in the classrooms. "Students here pay way too much to have a public education. It's really ridiculous. So, I think we deserve as much money as we can to give back to the students," student Sharlee Taylor said.
While students at Cal State Universities will see a rebate of $249 by the end of the month, UC students have only a modest promise that their tuition won't go up for the rest of this school year. "No tuition increases here. We would like not to have tuition increases next year, but it depends on the level of state funding," UC Berkeley spokesman Steve Montiel said.
"Prop 30 passing is definitely good news for the UC system. It definitely brings more stability to our financial situation for this year," UC Berkeley spokesperson Janet Gilmore said.
Demonstrators did march out of the rain and into Wheeler Hall but unlike last year's dramatic Occupy protests, so far, there have been no tents, no violent clashes with police, and no pepper spray. This time, there was just a simple plea for Prop 30 revenues to somehow flow down to them.
"I don't think tuition needs to be cut, but I know that it is threatening to be raised and I don't think that's fair," student Seamus Land said.
"I would like to make sure there aren't mass layoffs and make sure we have all of our classes we need to graduate so we're not here for years," student Sarina Renteria said laughingly.
UC police were very low-key Thursday and that is expected to continue. If students decide to sleep out, a UC spokesperson said the university has learned a lot of lessons since last year and the key word now when handling demonstrations will be "patience."