A faction of student demonstrators tried to take over the Administration Building during a rally Wednesday at San Diego State University, only to find the building closed down by campus police.
Instead they entrenched themselves on the steps, preventing police from reopening the three-story building, which houses academic records, administrative offices, student services and university relations.
"We feel the university needs a strong message to see our displeasure with the proposed budget cuts," said Joeffrey Johnson, an English department graduate student, as he sat against the front doors of the building.
Johnson said the group of about 50 students had brought food and water and were prepared to stay overnight. However, campus police dispatcher Leona Patteson said the students disbanded about 7 p.m.
About 4 p.m., SDSU President Thomas Day returned from meetings in Long Beach and spoke with the demonstrators on the steps of the building for almost three hours, after which the demonstrators left, university spokesman George Cole said.
The noon rally was the fourth in four weeks held by students and faculty to protest a proposal by Day to cut hundreds of classes and lay off hundreds of teachers this fall due to the state's severe money shortage.
Organizers of the rally said they have the same goals as the students who sought to take over the Administration Building, but do not agree with their tactics.
"We've gotten a lot of support from students, faculty and staff," student organizer D. C. Grant said. "It seems to me this kind of movement will detract from that support. We don't want anything to do with them."
During the rally, students mailed a petition with about 10,000 signatures asking state legislators to reject education budget cuts proposed by Gov. Pete Wilson, Grant said. They also began organizing car pools to bring students to a march on the state capital that is scheduled for June 1. Several other universities have been invited to join.
More than 450 participants marched through the campus at noon, chanting slogans and clapping. They stopped at the Administration Building and posted a list of demands on doors leading to Day's first-floor office.
Students took turns speaking on the steps, stirring up the crowd to a loud roar. An hour later, the only ones left were the sit-in demonstrators.
"We can only parade around so much and get limited results," senior Markes Rodgers said. "We're not going to take this. . . . We may get arrested, but somebody has to be the guinea pigs."
Like many students, sophomore Adriana Douzos was frustrated that the building was closed.
"I have a right to go in that building," said Douzos, who needed to pick up a phone bill. "It makes me angry."
Police closed the building at 11 a.m., locking the doors and evacuating about 200 employees, said John Carpenter, chief of campus police.