Berkeleyan: A newspaper for faculty and staff at UC Berkeley


Berkeleyan HomeSearch BerkeleyanBerkeleyan ArchiveUCB NewsUCB Calendar

This Week's Stories:

Regular Features




Faculty, Students Walk Out, Rally

Protest of Affirmative Action Ban

by Jacqueline Frost, Public Affairs
posted October 28, 1998

Rallying Students

Under a warm October sun, hundreds of students crowded into Sproul Plaza to listen as faculty members, civil rights activists, and students called for the return of affirmative action policies. Below, Ishmael Reed addressed the crowd.

Ishmael Reed

Chanting "educate, don't segregate," hundreds of students and faculty members walked out of classes last Wednesday and Thursday (Oct. 21 and 22) to protest California's ban on affirmative action.

Protesters crowded into Sproul Plaza on Wednesday for a spirited noontime rally and attended teach-ins and symposia throughout the two-day demonstration.

The walkout was part of a systemwide protest that included similar teach-ins, rallies and demonstrations at five University of California campuses as well as universities across the nation, including Yale, Johns Hopkins, Swarthmore, the University of Michigan and the University of Texas at Austin.

"We're not trying to shut down the campus. We're using this demonstration to direct attention to the need for affirmative action," said Erin Winkler, a graduate student in the African American studies department.

Berkeley and other UC campuses have seen a significant decline in the number of underrepresented minority students since the passage of Proposition 209 and UC Regents resolution SP-1, which ban the use of race or ethnicity as factors in the admissions process.

"The time has come once again to take to the streets to make known our cry for social justice," said Carlos Muñoz, a Berkeley professor of Chicano Studies, from the recently dedicated Mario Savio steps.

"209 is an unjust law and we have a moral obligation to protest this unjust law," he said.

Muñoz was joined at the rally by faculty members Ishmael Reed and Barbara Christian, civil rights organizers, as well as dozens of students from Berkeley and nearby colleges and high schools.

Some disagree that the university should revisit the policies of affirmative action.

Waving signs that read "Professors Are Paid to Teach," and "I'm Here to Learn," students from the Berkeley College Republicans attended the rally to protest the protest.

"We do not support racially divisive programs, instead we believe that the higher education system should be open to all and should not judge people based on the color of their skin, but on the merit of the individual,'' said a BCR flyer.

"A lot of people are afraid to speak up," said Ryan Enos, president of the BCR. "We're out here to make sure that both sides are represented."

At the teach-ins scattered throughout lower Sproul Plaza, where students and faculty gathered in small groups, the chants and rhetoric gave way to thoughtful discussions on issues ranging from the grim financial realities of getting a college education to the great disparities found in California's high schools.


 [ Back to top ]


UCB Home

This site is produced and maintained by the Office of Public Affairs, University of California, Berkeley.
Copyright 1998, The Regents of the University of California.
For comments concerning this web service please e-mail