On Nov. 24, members of the ASUCR Office of External Affairs organized a “call-in,” an event that encouraged UCR students to call the offices of Chancellor Kim Wilcox and Gov. Jerry Brown to voice their concerns about the recently approved UC tuition plan. Although 142 people were scheduled to participate in the event on Facebook, very few calls were actually made, according to university and state officials.
As part of another UC-wide day of action following a recent protest and sit-in, UCR students voiced their condemnation of the administration and legislature for supporting the tuition increase, which ASUCR members argue goes against the interests of students. According to Vice President of External Affairs Abraham Galvan, the call-in was meant not only to call for a reverse of the tuition hikes, but to push for a decrease in tuition from its current level.
UCR Assistant Vice Chancellor James Grant said the chancellor’s office only received “about a dozen” calls, and Danella Debel, press representative of the governor, was not even aware that a call-in had taken place when contacted after 4 p.m. on Monday.
Galvan attributed the low turnout to the short time students had to organize after the Day of Action was called on Thursday, and what he saw as students feeling “very jaded” about their ability to make a difference. “(Students) feel like they don’t have the power to do much, and therefore, they are wary of putting in much effort,” he said. However, he believed this apathy is “understandable,” since, according to him, the “systems of communication we currently have in place have continuously failed us.”
Galvan noted that UC President Janet Napolitano and members of the UC Board of Regents were not included in the event because individual representatives were not accessible by phone.
Fourth-year women’s studies and sociology double-major Angie Hic is one of the few students who participated. In her calls to both offices, she expressed her staunch disapproval of the tuition plan and urged Brown and Wilcox to take action against it.
However, students like Hic are not deterred by the event’s scant participation. She doesn’t believe the call-in’s failure to incite much student action “reflect(s) a loss” as a whole for the movement. “Some battles are won and others lost,” Hic said. “We, as students, continue to organize in any means necessary.”
Neftali Galarza, a third-year student who also participated in the call-in, believed student actions can still make a difference, reflecting that perhaps next time the call-in should be “a statewide thing and not only a UCR action.”
Despite the event’s low turnout, the anti-tuition hike movement remains optimistic. “Every step has a purpose no matter how small or how big,” Hic said. “The movement will continue.”