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‘TENT CITY’ CAMPOUT AIMS TO SAVE LAID-OFF STAFF

STUDENTS PROTEST DECISION MADE BY BOARD OF

La Voz Staff

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In an effort to pressure the Foothill-De Anza Board of Trustees,the club Students for Justice is camping out in the Main Quad,hoping to reverse the recent layoff of 70 classified staff.
“Tent City” organizer Adam Welch said he and other members met withDe Anza President Martha Kanter and to discuss the protest earlylast week.
“[SFJ] did not ask for my permission,” said Kanter. “They told mewhat they planned to do, and I alerted campus security of theirintention.”
According to De Anza school policy, no students are allowed oncampus from midnight to 6 a.m. Despite possible risks of security,Director of Campus Security Ben Rodriguez said, “We are trying tobe respectful of their First Amendment rights and publicsafety.”
Welch, recently elected as student trustee for 2003-2004, said thatSFJ and members of the classified staff are unhappy with the Boardof Trustees’ decision to continue with these layoffs. No layoffsare planned for any management personnel.
“They are cutting muscle [and] not the fat,” said Welch. “They needto consolidate and reduce their top heavy management andadministration first.”
Additionally, protesters said that layoffs would hurt thedistrict’s commitment to a diverse workforce.

Tent City
Students pitched their tentsJune 2, kicking off a week-long camp out on De Anza’s campus.Protesters are preparing to stay for another week.

Multicultural Staff Association President Les Leonardo, whoseemployment in Educational Technology Services may be eliminatedJuly 1, said the Board of Trustees has violated its own plan ofkeeping diversity among faculty an important issue.
MSA member and English instructor Rowena Matsunari said, “It’s aslap in the face of diversity to lay off the president of theMulticultural Staff Association. If we are promoting diversity [oncampus] and we want our staff and faculty to reflect the diversityin our student population, then we should really strive harder tobe sure that the staff who have been laid off are reinstated.”
On Wednesday a rally was organized by SFJ to inform students aboutthe layoffs and their effect. One staff member being laid off, LilyEspinoza, spoke at the rally.
“Our history is at a point where the worst you could do isnothing,” said Espinoza. “Don’t just let things happen and act likeyou had nothing to do with it. By doing nothing, you arecontributing to what is happening in the state. California has oneof the largest economies in the world. If we can’t afford toeducate the people in the state, then the future of California isvery bleak.”
Faculty and community members have brought food to the protestersin support of the cause. Last Thursday, Sociology instructor JenMyhre and other faculty pulled funds together to provide protestersChinese food. Another night, Welch’s mother brought chicken, beansand rice.
Nighttime activities have included dancing and playing music in adrum circle. On Thursday night, a TV and two couches were obtainedand a tall stack of movies was brought from the CupertinoLibrary.
Upon seeing the “Tent City” after an event Monday night, the clubAsian Pacific Americans for Student Leadership decided to buy alarge tent for about $100 and join the sleep-in.
“Tent city is a wonderful experience,” SFJ member Jolly Bimbachisaid. “It has brought many people of different backgroundstogether, uniting against something they feel strongly about.”
Welch said the group is currently making plans to take the actionto another level. It was decided on Thursday that the “Tent City”would continue over the weekend and into this week. There has alsobeen talk of a hunger strike similar to what helped Stanfordstudents make an important victory last week for workers on theircampus.

 


Daniel De Bolt, Mike Norling and
Ernie Ybarra contributed to this article.

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