photo (2)CHRIS HART-WILLIAMS  | Editor-in-Chief   

NIA DOAKS  Managing Editor  

On Thursday, October 23, dozens of N.C. State students walked out of their classes in order to call attention to demands for a better-funded, more inclusive and student debt-free UNC system. At 1 p.m. students, faculty and university workers met on N.C. State’s Brickyard. The walkout, organized by the groups Students Proactively Engaged towards Activism Knowledgably, or SPEAK, and Ignite NC, is part of a statewide string of demonstrations that coincide with October’s meeting of the UNC Board of Governors. “There are so many steps we could take in order to make this campus a model of inclusivity,” said Yolanda Munoz, junior at N.C. State. According to  the organizers students  plan to present a list of demands, compiled from various student groups, for changing the UNC system. Implementing a tuition-free university model, collective bargaining rights for students and workers and an end to cuts on university departments’ budgets, are a list of the demands. Thursday’s demonstrations came after years of cuts by the N.C. General Assembly to the UNC system’s funding. Since 2011 the system has lost $605 million in state funding, $76 million of which was subtracted in 2014. SPEAK cites a study by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, that said North Carolina is one of only eight states that did not increase its higher education spending in the last year. Students who planned to walk out expressed concern over the impact these continued cuts will have on working-class communities. “The current legislature has made a point of pursuing policies that disenfranchise students,people of color and poor people,” said Jonique Lyles of SPEAK and a junior at N.C. State. “Our university budgets are being gutted, our public schools are languishing…on top of that, changes in voting laws make it harder to vote out the people who enact these harmful policies.” That same Thursday, at noon, UNC-Charlotte held a walkout, at UNC-Chapel Hill on that Friday a group of students demonstrated at the 8 a.m. Board of Governors meeting and at noon Friday students at UNC-Greensboro held another walkout. The events in Charlotte, Chapel Hill and Greensboro, unlike the one in Raleigh, were organized by the North Carolina Student Power Union. During the walk out, students were able to sign a petition that addressed issues including decreased library hours, increased tuition and the recent construction on N.C. State’s campus. “We had about 100 signatures on the petition, which we intend to share with administration and student government,” said Lyles. “We are aiming to see a more open plan of spending for the university.” Along with the petition, the students gathered in the Brickyard on Thursday were able to listen to various speakers discussing university funding and student debt. “The walk out had a huge impact,” said Lyles. “It showed that students can stand up for what they believe in and voice their opinions on campus in a productive way.”