All across the United States, education is being threatened. Montclair State University is no different. The school’s board of trustees recently voted to raise tuition by 3.9 percent.
However, the students did not passively accept this attack. When the board assembled to vote on the cuts on July 26, more than 20 students walked into the meeting with signs. One sign said, “Tuition Hikes = Class War!” Other signs raised that some students are choosing between tuition and food.
The students were joined by interns from the New Jersey United Students organization and members of the Student Union at nearby Rutgers University. A Workers World Party member attended, as well as several anarchists.
As the board moved to vote on the tuition hikes, one Montclair student screamed out, “You will not silence us!” Then, the students began chanting: “Shame! Shame! Shame!”
They continued to chant, drowning out the meeting and loudly making their message clear. As the board scrambled to try to continue the meeting, students yelled in protest. They loudly chanted: “Education is a right! Fight! Fight! Fight!”
The meeting ended after students protested for almost 20 minutes. All shouted until they were nearly hoarse.
Following the meeting, Karen Pennington, university vice-president, sent letters to four MSU students, scolding them and threatening disciplinary action. One of the students who received a letter was not in attendance, but was simply identified as a known campus radical.
Pennington’s letter pointed out that the Montclair Chapter of Students for a Democratic Society had organized the demonstration. She used harsh terminology when characterizing the group.
Lisa Grab, a leader of the SDS club at MSU, views the letters as a clear act of intimidation. She stressed, “We won’t let them try to push us around like this.”
The SDS club plans to continue its efforts to defend the students from austerity and vows to keep on organizing students to fight back.