Aztecs walk out for May Day fee protest [VIDEO]

Photo by Wesley Beights, staff photographer

Photo by Wesley Beights, staff photographer

by Michelle Monroy

Co-authored by Jessica Santos

A walkout ended in San Diego State President Elliot Hirshman’s office as more than 200 students marched from Scripps Cottage to Montezuma Hall to protest the Student Success Fee on Friday.

The protest was part of a larger effort by other California State Universities, University of California campuses and community colleges. Students collaborated to create events across campuses and protest the issues faced at their own schools.

May Day originated in the late 19th century as a labor protest. It was revitalized in 2006 as a day to protest legislations passed against undocumented workers.

“We saw this as both an opportunity to protest the fee but also to really have a day of educational politicizing opportunity to talk about the connections between these different struggles that people are facing with different difficulties,” Bo Elder, a rhetoric and writing graduate student and one of the protestors, said.

Students representing different campus communities such as Queer Student Union, Movimiento Estudiantil Chicano de Aztlán and the Association of Chicana Activists were in attendance. Many professors were among the spectators in the audience at SDSU.

Department of Chicano and Chicana Studies lecturer Gregorio Pantoja spoke at the rally and said protesters have statewide support.

“They’re not alone. This isn’t a small one-time event,” Pantoja said. “They are the voice of future students and what they’re doing is right.”

Students rallied around Scripps Pond at noon to hear fellow students speak against the fee.

Graduate student Mary Marchan addressed her concern for the growing costs of education.

“As a student I don’t feel privileged knowing that I will spend most of my life paying off student loans while the majority of the university administration make over $200,000 a year,” Marchan said.

Elder also spoke at the protest, mentioning the all-encompassing nature of the SDSU May Day protest.

“May Day is the day we demand the things we need right now: rolling back fees, the end of deportations, the right of all working people to organize and unionize and the end of discrimination of women and LGBTQ folk,” Elder said.

After the speakers concluded, students walked to the president’s office carrying signs and chanting “the students united will never be divided.”

Protesters found the president’s doors locked, and campus officials and police oversaw the more than 150 students as they crowded into the hall and wrote messages in chalk outside the office. According to the university’s regulations, chalking is only allowed on Open Air Theater Walkway with permission.

Some protesters divided and left to San Diego City College to join another May Day event. About 60 students stayed outside Hirshman’s office for about an hour and a half.

Associate Vice President of Student Services Reginald Blaylock told students they were free to respectfully exercise their voices.

“The university belongs to the students and we want to welcome them,” Blaylock said. “We want to make sure they understand the responsibilities associated with being in university spaces and we let them have time and space to talk, share and plan their ideas.”

SDSU Chief Communications Officer Greg Block said the university has already addressed the concerns of the protesters.

“There was a month-long process for the student success fee; we had 39 public forums where 64 percent of students who participated said they were in favor of a fee,” Block said. “So are their voices less important than the voices of the students who are screaming and yelling that they don’t want a fee? I would say no.”


Photo and Video by Wesley Beights, staff photographer