Sacramento State police oust student protesters

A four-day student protest over budget cuts and tuition hikes at California State University, Sacramento, ended early Saturday morning after campus police moved in on demonstrators.

Students who had occupied the university’s administrative building since Wednesday dispersed at 3:30 a.m. after campus police entered the building and told them that they would be arrested.

None of the students was detained.

“It was pretty scary,” said junior Nora Walker, who was one of 27 students occupying the building when police came in. “It’s very sad that the school feels that this is the way they can treat their students.”

The demonstration was part of a systemwide protest by students and faculty at the 23-campus California State University network.

The protests were organized by the California Faculty Association, which represents professors in the CSU system.

University officials said they asked students to leave because it was not safe for them to stay over the weekend when the building’s heating and ventilation is turned off.

Campus spokeswoman Kim Nava said that campus and Sacramento police took part in Saturday’s exercise. Students said that officers from CSU San Francisco also took part.

Fourth-year student Yeimi Lopez, who served as the students’ liaison with police, said she saw about two dozen officers and most wore “full riot gear” that included protective helmets and batons.

Kevin Wehr, president of the faculty union’s Sacramento State unit, said the administration made “a horrible mistake” in using a show of force. Wehr said school officials had plenty of opportunity to increase dialogue with the students without having to resort to threats of arrest.

“I believe (the students) are fighting for their education, and that is a righteous cause,” he said.

Earlier in the week, protesters met with CSUS President Alexander Gonzalez and asked him to stop giving raises to managers and to publicly support Senate Bill 8 and Assembly Bill 1326.

SB 8 would subject auxiliary groups at public universities to the California Public Records Act, while AB 1326 would tax oil extraction in the state and send the money to higher public education. Both bills are sponsored by the faculty union.

Gonzalez, who posted students’ demands and his responses on the Sacramento State website, wrote that he will not provide management raises “unless specifically authorized by the Board of Trustees.” Gonzalez said the trustees would also make a decision on whether to endorse the legislation.

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