The Lumberjack

Students v. admins: frustrated conversations at the budget cuts walkout

Moxie Alvarnaz, member of Student Coalition for Organizing and Direct Action, protests at the walkout concerning budget cuts on March 21. The walkout took place in the UC Quad at Humboldt State University and continued at Siemens Hall. Photo by Philip Santos.

“Students’ rights! Students’ rights!”

“Where the fuck is Lisa? Where the fuck is Lisa?”

“Cut her pay! Cut her pay!”

Video by Bailey Tennery.

HSU students could be heard storming through Siemens Hall yesterday, demanding the school’s administration to face students’ anger surrounding the budget crisis.

Trevor McDowell, a wildlife major at HSU, was among the crowd of student protestors.

“We are marching to find President Rossbacher, wherever she is meeting with WASC,” McDowell said.

WASC, or the Western Association of Schools and Colleges, is a reviewing body that determines whether a school is capable of preparing students for the next steps in their careers.

Dr. W. Wayne Brumfield, interim vice president of student affairs, explains the significance of a WASC approved institution.

“WASC accreditation happens all across the country, and is important to a student’s degree. Having the accreditation is a sign of a healthy institution with good academics,” Brumfield said.

Interim VP of Student Affairs Dr. W. Wayne Brumfield listens to student demands in Siemens Hall on March 21. Photo by Philip Santos.

David Alvarez, a student protestor, wanted Brumfield to know that HSU is not healthy.

“Why is there a lottery to live on campus? That’s not healthy,” Alvarez said. “I am scared to be homeless. We are not healthy.”

The students’ protest, led by Moxie Alvarnaz, started in the UC Quad.

“How do you feel about the budget cut? The administration just got another raise,” Alvarnaz said.

A collective “boo” swept through the crowd.

Dr. Alexander Enyedi, HSU’s provost and an administrator, was in attendance at the protest.

“I think we should keep the focus on the budget structure,” Enyedi said. “A deficit is different from a budget cut. The colleges’ budgets are mostly untouched, but we are asking them to not spend more than what they are given.”

Enyedi was certain that using the school’s degree auditing system, or DARS, to gather an idea of what classes students need will ensure that students have the right classes to graduate on time, in spite of the deficit reduction effort.

Tents in the UC Quad at Humboldt State during the student-organized event to protest budget cuts on March 21. The walkout was organized by Students Coalition for Organized and Direct Action. Photo by Matthew Hable.

As students marched into Siemens Hall from the UC Quad to find President Lisa Rossbacher, they confronted Enyedi in front of his office. William Cooke, a student protestor, disagreed with Enyedi on the class offering strategy.

“If you think that we should be prepared for the rest of our lives, then why offer only the classes we need?” Cooke said. “I pay so much money for my education. Why can’t I take the classes that I want to take and experience college fully?”

Footage by Garrett Goodnight. Edited by Bailey Tennery.

David Alvarez, an undeclared major, expressed concerns for students’ ability to explore different majors.

“I am undeclared. What if I want to become a biology major? Are you going to cut biochemistry [and] botany classes?” Alvarez said.

Kelsey Meusburger, another student protestor, explained what students are seeking from administrators.

“We are asking for an income cap to make HSU a more equitable place,” Meusburger said. “Is that something you’d be open to?”

“Always, always,” Enyedi said.

Ben Gorham and other HSU students ensure they are heard while WASC reviewers meet in Siemens Hall 222 on March 21. Photo by Philip Santos.

Brianna Allen, who was missing a capstone class to be at the protest, expressed frustrations with the responses Enyedi has given to students’ questions.

“I need to see you take action,” Allen said. “I need to know if you will advocate for us, on the board of admin, to take budget cuts through your money.”

“I will advocate for you,” Enyedi said. “I will discuss with the cabinet about the ideas that are being put through.”

Dixie Blumenshine, a biology major, brought up the recent firing of CNRS’s dean, Dr. Richard Boone.

“Why did Rich Boone leave early? His resignation isn’t effective until June,” Blumenshine said.

“He wasn’t interested in doing his job anymore,” Enyedi said. “If he was committed, he wouldn’t resign.”

Kylie Brown, a general biology freshman student, was watching the protest from the UC Quad.

“I am here today because I heard that some classes, which I’m hoping to take, will be cut,” Brown said. “I hope to become an endangered species biologist. If the [budget deficit] cuts botany classes at HSU, I will not be prepared for my career. This makes me angry. I haven’t been able to experience all the classes I want to take, and they’re already taking it away.”

Lizzie Phillips (left), one of the members of Students Coalition for Organized and Direct Action who participated in the HSU walkout on March 21, stands in front of a makeshift mural where students air our their grievances on the budget cuts at Humboldt State. Photo by Matthew Hable.

Hana Watanabe and Kotaro Kawakubo, international students, were present at the protest in the UC Quad.

“We heard about this protest through our professor, who told us to come see the cultural differences,” Watanabe said.

“We’re also here because we’re worried about the office of international programs,” Kawakubo said. “Our boss has already been fired. We don’t want the office to close. Losing this program would be like losing a home for us.”

Students are encouraged to attend the Associated Students budget forum on Monday, March 26th, from 5-6:30 pm in the KBR for further questions.

See what the HSU budget looks like at URPC.

Information on HSU’s WASC accreditation can be found here.