About a dozen cars participated in a drive-thru protest Saturday afternoon against Long Beach State’s decision to not offer students with alternative grading options this fall.
Organized by a student collective called CSULB Students United, the protest took place in lot E1, in front of Brotman Hall, and encouraged participants to remain in their vehicles and bring masks.
“As a collective, we agreed that the answers we received from the provost were not reasonably accurate,” said fourth-year communication major Christina Huerta, a member of the collective. “Our situation has not changed. We are still in the middle of a pandemic, but they chose not to be receptive to our reality.”
A small group of students are gathering in parking lot E1 in front of Brotman Hall to demonstrate against the administration’s decision to not offer C/NC for the fall 2020 semester. pic.twitter.com/rvvZDiljQ3
— Daily 49er 📰🦈 (@daily49er) December 12, 2020
Participants were also asked to show their support by honking their horns and decorate their cars with signage or car paint.
Daniel Villarreal, a third-year aerospace engineering major, said they made the decision to gather to protest the administration’s disregard for their demands.
“Ultimately it’s their decision to allow alternative grading options for students. I doubt that they have read the reasons for signing under that petition,” Villarreal said. “There are so many deep stories, there are students who are struggling. Some of them have gotten sick themselves, family members have died, [they’ve] become the sole source of income for their homes, et cetera, et cetera.”
Villarreal said that he and the others are not pleased with the alternative option given by Provost Brian Jersky that will allow students to withdraw from courses by Monday rather than offer credit or no credit.
“Instead of giving us the alternative grading options like other CSUs have, other UCs [and] other large institutions, they have denied us that and given us a different option saying, ‘Oh, you can send us a sob story, and it’ll be put in as a request.’ You won’t be automatically approved, it’ll be a request, they have to read your story, make sure it’s sad enough and it meets their requirements and then they’ll give you a withdrawal,” Villarreal said. “With the withdrawal you’ll probably end up having to delay your graduation, more tuition for them [to] fill their pockets and it’s just not, it’s not what we want. It’s not right, and that’s why we’re here.”
A member of the student group, fourth-year psychology major Carolyn Dao started a change.org petition in favor of offering alternative grading options, which prompted Jersky to announce in a campus-wide email that the university would not be offering students the option to receive credit or no credit in place of a letter grade. The petition has received over 19,000 signatures as of Dec. 12.
Participants drove by President Jane Close Conoley’s home, stopping for a moment to honk their horns, then returned to campus to demonstrate in front of the GO BEACH sign. The group was followed by a campus police officer when in Conoley’s neighborhood.
Associated Students, Inc. has shown its explicit support for the cause on Twitter and said that it “will work with administration and the student body in these efforts.”
“In solidarity with the student body we are sharing this petition in order to amplify the voice of our students,” the tweet read. “As ASI executive officers, we stand in support of student efforts in advancing the alternative grading options to credit/no credit for fall 2020 and spring 2021.”
As ASI executive officers, we stand in support of student efforts in advancing the alternative grading options to credit/no credit for fall 2020 and spring 2021. We welcome hearing our fellow students sharing their voices on behalf of student success. pic.twitter.com/a1X7jt8nG5
— CSULB ASI GOV (@csulbasigov) December 12, 2020
Huerta said that CSULB Students United has only been working as a team for a couple of days and has “already managed to cause an uproar.” She said the group realized they needed to act fast to “show the administrators that our numbers do exist and we will not be overlooked, that we are more than just our petition.”
“Our students need to realize that they’re not alone. We are students just like them, and we’re fighting for them and we’re not going to stop,” Huerta said. “As a collective, we tried everything we could to be in contact and we were overlooked. We have spent countless hours working to drive this petition forward, and we’re not going to quit now.”
Madalyn Amato, editor in chief, contributed to this story.