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California Students Protest Prop. 209

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Students at several University of California (U.C.) campuses marked last week's approval of Proposition 209 by Golden State voters with protests resulting in more than 40 arrests.

Proposition 209 prohibits using race and gender as considerations in public hiring or contracting, and, consequently, in admissions at state universities, effectively ending affirmative action programs.

Student demonstrators at U.C. Berkeley and U.C. Riverside have demanded that university administrators resist following Prop. 209 guidelines, reduce student fees and rename a building at the Berkeley campus in honor of Mexican-American labor activist Cesar Chavez, according to U.C. Berkeley spokesperson Robert L. Sanders.

A group of more than 200 Berkeley students protested in the streets last Wenesday, denouncing Prop. 209 and Republican Gov. Pete Wilson.

At least 20 protestors then occupied the top floor of the school's clock tower and unrolled banners, one of which said "REVOLUTION," while a larger group of protestors gathered near the tower entrance and tried to block university police from entering the building, according to Associated Press wire dispatches.

Police arrested 23 demonstrators still camped out in the clock tower early the next morning, Sanders said.

At the Riverside campus, protestors occupied the school's main administrative building early Monday morning. Police later arrested 20 people in the building, although 80 to 100 students were involved in the protest both inside and outside, according to the Associated Press.

U.C. Riverside Chancellor Raymond L. Orbach plans to let prosecutors proceed with charging those arrested with trespassing and to pursue disciplinary action against all students involved, according to Jack R. Chappell, director of university relations.

Normally, student groups organize demonstrations through the University administration, but that was not the case Monday, Chappell said.

"We have a really good rapport with our students," Chappell said. "There's a sort of breach of faith that goes with that kind of activity."

Chappell said that the protests at U.C. Riverside were organized largely by the Movimento Estudiantil Chicano de Aztlan (M.E.Ch.A.), which has branches at several California universities, and the Student Coalition Against Prop. 209.

Not all students at Berkeley and Riverside said they agree with the protests or the demands.

"Some of [the demands] were just ridiculous," said Ami S. Sandler, a sophomore at U.C. Riverside. "They wanted separate majors for minorities and a 25 percent reduction in fees."

According to a poll by the Daily Cal, Berkeley's daily newspaper, 45 percent of Berkeley students want affirmative action on campus to stay, 37 percent are against it and 18 percent are undecided.

"I certainly don't get the feeling that a large segment of the campus is up in arms about this," said Michael Coleman, editor-in-chief of the Daily Cal.

Coleman said he was particularly upset that a group of protestors stole 3,000 copies of the Daily Cal last Monday and the entire print run of 23,000 papers last Tuesday in reaction the paper's endorsement of Prop. 209

Not all students at Berkeley and Riverside said they agree with the protests or the demands.

"Some of [the demands] were just ridiculous," said Ami S. Sandler, a sophomore at U.C. Riverside. "They wanted separate majors for minorities and a 25 percent reduction in fees."

According to a poll by the Daily Cal, Berkeley's daily newspaper, 45 percent of Berkeley students want affirmative action on campus to stay, 37 percent are against it and 18 percent are undecided.

"I certainly don't get the feeling that a large segment of the campus is up in arms about this," said Michael Coleman, editor-in-chief of the Daily Cal.

Coleman said he was particularly upset that a group of protestors stole 3,000 copies of the Daily Cal last Monday and the entire print run of 23,000 papers last Tuesday in reaction the paper's endorsement of Prop. 209

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