SANTA CRUZ, Calif. -- A group of graduate students at UC-Santa Cruz who are protesting budget cuts to higher education have barricaded themselves inside a student center.
Members of a group called Occupy California marched to the Graduate Student Commons and barricaded themselves inside after attending Thursday's campus rally against student fee hikes and faculty furloughs.
The protesters are calling the occupation the start of an "escalation" of activities designed to raise awareness about higher education cuts. Members said their hope is that other UC campuses follow suit.
"Older forms of protest have become unattainable and unworkable," said protester Evan Calder [apparently they don't hear names very well]. "We've moved past the point where we can write our Senator or ask them to make changes. Therefore, we're trying to show there are other ways to protest, other ways to interact and spread awareness."
University officials have raised concerns about the potential fire hazard and inconvenience to students who want to use the center. But, so far, they have declined to force the protesters out.
The group has hung banners in the student center that say "Raise Hell, Not Costs," but not all students are in support of the protest.
"I think they're idiots! I think they're looking for a fight," said graduate student Paul Soas. "They're trying to feel oppressed but they're not. I'm not down with budget cuts either at all … but I want my graduate lounge, and their music sucks too!"
The protesters said that the building is open for students, but furniture has been seen blocking the entrance path to the center.
"I would very much like my own space to study, because I come here for a quality education and quality space in which I can work and actually succeed in what I'm trying to do here," said student Sarah Macezo.
But protesters said the reason they are unwilling to move out is so students like Macezo can have a quality education.
"This isn't about making a statement," said Mike Raskin. "This is about rallying the student population."