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East Bay | Education & Student Activism

UC "Student Leaders" Sabotage Occupation of Wheeler Hall
by a disappointed student
Friday Sep 25th, 2009 11:31 AM
Last night, a concerted effort by self-appointed "student leaders," mostly from CalServe, successfully prevented a student occupation of Wheeler Hall.
Last night, a concerted effort by self-appointed "student leaders," mostly from CalServe, successfully prevented a student occupation of Wheeler Hall.

An occupation committee had prepared the logistics for the occupation of Wheeler Hall, and planned to bring a proposal to the so-called "general assembly" planned for 6pm. But moderators representing the official student leadership stepped in to impose a formal procedural structure that would prevent any and all political action following on the heels of the successful walkout.

Bullying from the moderator led to a vote in favor of breakout discussion groups, which divided and weakened the energy that had been brought to the room. The occupation committee managed to move the general assembly to Wheeler Auditorium, but the "leaders" insisted rigidly on a reportback from every single breakout group, hearing every single proposal for letter-writing campaigns, for contacting our elected representatives, etc. When members of breakout groups suggested an occupation, this was placed as a proposal among many to be subjected to an eventual, meaningless vote, long after the time for doing so had come and gone.

At one point, a student managed to convince these "leaders" to allow the reading of the occupation statement issued by students at UC Santa Cruz. The crowd was visibly moved, and roared in support of the UCSC students, before chanting "Occupy! Occupy!" for several minutes. As the occupation committee sought an immediate vote, the self-imposed leadership insisted that the reportback procedure continue for a full hour more (yes, there was a vote, but both options led to the same continuation of procedure). The energy and momentum of the room was not respected, this was not democracy: it was proceduralism in an effort to prevent any strategy or tactic that the leadership disagreed with.

Members of the occupation committee began to secure the building with locks and chains (while leaving doors open for those who wished to leave), while continuing efforts to bring the proposal before the crowd, whose energy was now waning as a result of a thousand reportbacks.

This was when the real ugliness began. Ricardo Gomez of CalServe took the stage and began barking at the crowd, ironically seizing the bully pulpit to denounce the occupation effort as "undemocratic." What was undemocratic was the proceduralism of the leadership which refused to respect the will of the people present. Gomez knew what he was doing: he was consciously destroying the radical energy of the people gathered there. Rather than calling a vote on occupation, he pushed the gullible to tears by insinuating that they had been taken hostage when this was not the case. (These "leaders" were later seen snitching to police).

This was a disgusting and despicable case of the worst form of opportunism, the effects of which are only beginning to be felt.