Nine students from California State University, Fresno joined thousands of others at the State Capitol in Sacramento participating in the March for Higher Education, organized to give higher funding priority to public institutions of higher education.

The major advocacy action was organized by the California State Student Association and Student Senate for California Community Colleges for Monday, March 22.

Student leaders from the California State University and the state’s community colleges – the two largest public higher education systems – led an estimated 15,000 students and supporters from throughout the state to Sacramento. They protested a “scaled-back public investment in California’s premiere institutions of public higher education.”

Jessica Sweeten, president of Fresno State’s Associated Students Inc., led the Fresno delegation on a bus ride that began at 5:30 a.m. and made a stop at California State University, Stanislaus to pick up additional supporters.

She said protestors chanted, “Kick us out and well vote you out,” on the Capitol steps as the event began.

“I am so impressed and pleased to be here with so many of my fellow students standing up for higher education,” Sweeten said in a text from the rally.

A press conference and rally included remarks by Fresno State student Russel Statham, a CSU student trustee, on the North Steps of the Capitol. Statham applauded the students for being united and exhorted them to “hold the Legislature accountable. After we are done here I encourage all of you to go advocate.”

“For the last decade, state legislators have repeatedly scaled back public investment in California’s premiere institutions of public higher education,” said the statement issued Friday by the protest organizers. “The result is felt worse this year than most, with students realizing major fee increases, experiencing faculty and staff furloughs and significant reductions to program and course offering budgets at local campuses.”