Minority Student Activists Protest Education Cuts: IRVINE, Calif. – If campus activism still brings to mind peace signs, a sea of White faces, and liberal strongholds like Berkeley, meet Jesse Cheng.
Cheng is a third-year Asian-American studies major at the University of California, Irvine, a campus less than five decades old in the middle of Orange County, a place of strip malls and subdivisions that gave birth to the ultraconservative John Birch Society.
Comfortable talking with both administrators and anarchists, Cheng is a presence at protests but avoids getting arrested. He doesn't want to put his graduation at risk or upset his mother, who worked hard to get him here and worries for his safety because she witnessed what happened to dissidents in her native China.
Cheng is part of a growing movement of minority students rallying around a new cause—fighting a budget crisis that's undermining access to higher education at a time when students of color have become a stronger demographic force.