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Asheville: Coalition for Education Rights Stages Study-In

By Jeremy Miller

(Fight Back! News/Staff)

Asheville, NC – One hundred students gathered on the steps of the University of North Carolina-Asheville’s (UNCA) Ramsey library today to protest against the administration cutting days out of the 2009-2010 academic calendar. With banners reading “Transparency now!” and chanting, “Let the students have your say, give us back our reading day!” students rallied for accountability, transparency and more student participation in decisions that affect them and the university community. The Coalition for Education Rights, made up of several campus organizations including Students for a Democratic Society, Student Government Association and HOLA (Hispanic Outreach for Learning and Awareness) organized the action.

The students then marched to Phillips Hall, the university administration building and staged a ‘study-in.’ Students reclaimed Phillips as their space and sat in and outside the building under banners to study for finals and to discuss problems at UNCA.

After the action, the provost met with the students and apologized for the lack of transparency. She also has promised that a committee will be formed in the fall semester that will include staff, faculty and students to decide on issues around the calendar and other issues.

In a recent article in the Blue Banner, the campus newspaper, entitled Administration fails to consult students on calendar changes, student body president Cortland Mercer and Student Government Association official Steven Haas state that the “changes have been made retroactively, without the consultation of students and are an offense to all those paying tuition and fees.”

This action took place only days after a delegation from Students for a Democratic Society took a list of six demands to Chancellor Ponder. The first two demands were, “We want a university that serves the people. We want a university that responds to the needs of the students, faculty, and staff” and “We want transparency. We want to know exactly how the current economic crisis is going to effect our education at UNCA.”

Other demands included a tuition freeze, a moratorium on lay-offs and job elimination and the safeguarding of departments like Women’s Studies and Africana Studies. More meetings with the administration to discuss these demands will take place in the near future.

“The action to take back the rights of students was a great success”, says Rachel McLarty of UNCA SDS. “With the organization of the Coalition for Education Rights and students standing up to fight against being left out of the budget cut discussion, we can really win some victories like this one. We can’t stop here though. We have to stick together and keep fighting.”

(Fight Back! News/Staff)

(Fight Back! News/Staff)

(Fight Back! News/Staff)

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