May Chow, KSBW
Students in Santa Cruz used the school's mascot as a way to block entrance to the campus. It's a banana slug.
Student protesters at the University of California, Santa Cruz, have shut down most of the campus as part of statewide demonstrations against budget cuts.
The protests are the latest in a series of demonstrations over the lack of funding for public education in the state, which has resulted in dramatic fee increases for public universities in recent years.
In Santa Cruz, protest organizers say hundreds of students blocked entrances to campus during rainy weather Thursday morning and prevented vehicles from entering.
"We respect that students, instructors, and staff know more about the impact of budget cuts than anyone else, as they have borne the impact of fee hikes, course reductions, and layoffs," UCSC Chancellor George Blumenthal told KSBW. He added, "However, we take issue with a protest that simultaneously denies students access to those classes for which they have paid."
Campus officials say police briefly detained a motorist who tried to drive through a crowd of demonstrators, but no one appeared to be seriously injured.
Police said the driver was trying to get his girlfriend to class.
At another point in the morning the protesters got into a fist fight with a man who had a different opinion and attempted to make it. KGO television showed the mini-melee, which ended with no injuries or arrests.
School administrators had warned the campus this week about Thursday's protest. Many classes were canceled or rescheduled, and offices were not fully staffed.
College students at about 30 campuses across California are holding rallies, marches, teach-ins and walkouts to call on lawmakers to raise taxes on the wealthy and restore funding to higher education.
Protesters at the University of California at Berkeley held their own open university which began at 8 a.m.
At California State University East Bay in Hayward, protesters will hold a "People's University" starting at noon. There will be faculty and student speakers and educational workshops throughout the afternoon, organizers said.
A "Reclaim SFSU" rally will be held at San Francisco State University starting at noon, followed by a march from Malcolm X Plaza.
Organizers of the SFSU event said the action is being held to improve the quality of education at the school, and reclaim a student voice in education.
Students at San Jose State University are planning a walkout at noon today, followed by a rally and march.
The rally will begin near Clark Hall and students will hold a "speak out" to tell their stories of struggling with the rising costs of tuition.
The protesters are then planning to march silently through the Student Services Center before gathering in front of Tower Hall in the afternoon.
In the North Bay, students at Sonoma State University will hold a "Reclaim the People's University" event at noon today in Stevenson Quad.
The event will last throughout the day, starting with teach-ins, discussion circles and performances discussing cuts to departments, campus programs and the availability of student jobs.
Organizers said that university administration officials are intending to attend the events and discuss the students' concerns.
There will also be a night event on the campus, with a concert featuring musical performances and speakers from 9 p.m. until midnight.
Students at Santa Rosa Junior College are planning to rally at 2 p.m. for a march to the Rattigan State Building at 50 D St.
There will be several Bay Area events held in solidarity with the campus events as well that have no direct association with a college or university.
In San Francisco, protesters will hold a teach-in and occupation at the California State Office Building at 455 Golden Gate Ave. before holding a rally in Civic Center Plaza at 4 p.m.
Occupy Oakland protesters are planning a rally in Frank Ogawa Plaza at 5 p.m.
Protesters from throughout the state will hold a larger, unified demonstration on Monday in Sacramento.
The "Occupy Education" rally will begin at 10 a.m. followed by a march to the state Capitol building. The daylong event will
Bay City News contributed to this report.