|Office of the Chancellor / Public Affairs||
Tuesday, November 2, 2004
Exercising the right to speak
Bush and Kerry aren't the only ones trying to get their
voices heard these days. A rally at Cerritos College Monday had nothing
to do with ballot propositions, congressional candidates or a close presidential
But the collective goal of the 500 students who gathered peacefully at Falcon Square at Cerritos College Monday was simple: to exercise their free speech rights.
"It's up to us to get together and collaborate, to know where all ideas are coming from," Franco said to the crowd Monday.
This is the third such rally at the college in the past month.
On Oct. 26, students chalked outlines of 1,104 bodies into the ground in a tribute to American soldiers that have died in Iraq. Some students were angered when the outlines were hosed down minutes after the event ended, Franco said.
And at a similar rally Oct. 14, three students were arrested by campus police, Habbestad said.
"We're here fighting for freedom of speech," said 20-year-old Audrey Silvestre. "This is a college, it's a safe environment and we're not allowed to speak our voices."
But Kristen Habbestad, a spokeswoman for the college, said the students were arrested for yelling, making noise and disrupting the peace on campus. College officials, she said, had no intention of curbing any civil liberties.
"We have lots of demonstrations all the time," Habbestad said. "That's a part of student life. We want to encourage that and allow students to be free and support different causes."
The rally Friday included several short speeches, after which students formed a circle, held hands and chanted free speech mantras.
"We wanted to voice our opinions and we're fed up," Agustin said. Agustin is a Chicano Studies major and a member of the college's Mecha organization, a Chicano activist group on campus and one of the driving forces behind the rally. Mecha is an acronym for Movimiento Estudiantil Chicano de Aztlan (Chicano Student's Movement of Aztlan).
Rafael Lopez, also a member of Mecha, said he hopes campus organizations will unite around the common cause of the right to speak out.
"We're all humans, we're all flesh and bone, we've gotta unite," he said. "Unity gives us strength."
Lopez was pleased with the turnout at the rally, but said he hopes to see more in the future.
"This makes people say, 'I can say what I want to say," he said. "It's a great example of people speaking out."
Habbestad also said that campus leaders welcome these kinds of events, as long as they don't disrupt classes.
"College campuses are where people come to understand different
policies and ideas," she said. "We want students to have the
freedom to learn and grow. It's just when it comes to disrupting class,
students come first."
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