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Santa Cruz Indymedia | Education & Student Activism

Solidarity from (G)SOC: UCSC Kerr Hall Occupation
by Occupy California
Tuesday Nov 24th, 2009 12:23 PM
Dear friends and colleagues,

We are writing to express our solidarity with the Kerr Hall protest and to challenge the UCSC Administration’s blatantly dishonest statements about the action. This protest was not the expression of a “relative few”; rather, it was supported by a broad spectrum of students, faculty, and campus workers.
While outrage over the Regents’ fee hike sparked this action, the students in Kerr Hall quickly provided a list of seven local demands, giving the UCSC Administration an opportunity to protect members of the UCSC community from the skewed budget priorities of the UC Office of the President. (Visit http://people.ucsc.edu/~bmalone/Kerr_Hall_Demands.html to see these demands.) Sadly, the UCSC Administration refused to take this opportunity. After eight hours of negotiations, the Administration responded that no specific promise or outcome would be the result of this peaceful action.

It was the Administration’s bad faith bargaining and threat of force that led frightened students inside the building to barricade the doors. The Administration summoned riot police not out of concern for a peaceful resolution, but rather out of an administrative vendetta against the students. As the Santa Cruz Sentinel reports, Professor Bettina Aptheker was negotiating at the time with EVC Kliger on behalf of the students: “I told Kliger, ‘If you give me another five minutes I think I could get the door open.’ And he said, ‘I don’t have five minutes.’”

Kliger has claimed that the protest will prevent the reopening of Kerr Hall for several days. UCSC spokesperson Jim Burns estimated the cost of the damage in the “thousands.” These statements are preposterous. A cursory examination of the Administration’s own posted photos shows that the “damages” amount to little more than some leftover food and a bunch of paper in need of recycling. As for the more substantial complaints: overturned refrigerators can be turned upright, communications equipment (which was not “ripped out” per Kliger’s email, but rather unplugged) can be reconnected, and a broken table can no doubt be replaced–all at a cost significantly less than “thousands of dollars.”

Of course, without the Administration’s use of police force and demand for immediate evacuation, the mess would have been cleaned up by the protesters themselves before they left the building. It is the Administration’s choice to force UCSC janitorial staff to clean up Kerr Hall. In fact, a large group of sympathetic students (some involved in the occupation, some not) has volunteered to perform the cleanup, so as not to inconvenience janitors who are already stretched too thin by the UCSC Administration’s brutal imposition of layoffs and furloughs. We cannot help but question, once again, Kliger’s honesty.

The Administration has threatened criminal and administrative charges against the students involved. Given the Administration’s record of mendacity and bad faith, combined with the chilling effects such charges would have on student free speech, we demand that no charges of any kind be pursued. Peaceful civil disobedience is an essential part of all movements for social justice. While it should not be the only tactic, it is particularly necessary when we are faced with an administration that refuses to engage in any meaningful dialogue with students, faculty, and workers.

In solidarity,

(Graduate) Student Organizing Committee

(G)SOC is a group of graduate and undergraduate students committed to public education, the rollback of fees, and transparency and fairness in UC’s budget process. We can be reached at TeachTheBudgetUCSC {at} gmail [dot] com
§Solidarity letter from UCSC staff
by Occupy California Tuesday Nov 24th, 2009 12:25 PM
Hi everyone,

I’m a staff member who is deeply involved in my union and effected by the recent occupation. I would like to share with you what happened in my office yesterday. Although no protesters showed up, my office was told to shut down and the staff were sent home. The fear was that students would come occupy the office and the administration chose to shut it down to prevent any problems that might cause. You say that the strikes don’t have an effect on the operation of the university? I disagree.

While I can’t advocate illegal activities on campus for fear of retribution(livelihood and all that), I want to point out that people went home with pay. This is not the sort of thing that creates animosity between staff and students. If people are occupying buildings in a peaceful, non-destructive way, in one-day sit-ins that target a different location each day and leave at the close of business for example, that might be better than occupying the Grad Student Commons or camping out, causing confrontations.

What kind of long-term effects do waves of sit-in protests have on tuition, funding, and priorities at UCSC (and UC generally)? I don’t think that anyone knows the answer, but we hear you, your voices are coming through in person and in print.
In solidarity,
B
§another response to the admin
by occupyca Tuesday Nov 24th, 2009 3:01 PM
Dear EVC Kliger,

Your "assessment" of the state of Kerr Hall is laughable. The claim that it will be unable to open on Monday is patently exaggerated.

With a few exceptions, the Administration's own photographs of the "damage" show little more than some leftover food and a bunch of paper products in need of recycling. Perhaps you have never engaged in this type of manual labor; however, as someone who funded portions of his earlier education by working for a janitorial service, I can assure you that the cleanup at this site would take a small crew no more than one or two hours. It would be quick and easy work indeed, considering that a large number of sympathetic students have volunteered to do the cleanup themselves (thus taking the pressure off of UCSC janitors who, we should note, cannot possibly provide their traditional level of outstanding service to the rest of the campus thanks to the deep cuts imposed by your administration).

As for the rest of the "damage":
--two strong people will be necessary to upright the overturned refrigerator. Should I drop by with a friend?
--a closer examination of the photograph of the "ripped out" teleconference equipment reveals that it was merely disconnected. I'm sure there are any number of student volunteers who would be willing to plug it back in. Even I could probably do that--especially if you still have the manual.
--a collection can be taken up at the next General Assembly for replacement cost of the broken table. Or alternately, I wonder if there may be an underutilized table somewhere else on campus--I could post a few flyers or check craigslist.

Of course, I recognize that your earlier message is an attempt to engage in a certain type of "spin." But has it occurred to you that emails of this type are one of the primary reasons for the widespread distrust of you and the UCSC Administration among students, faculty, and staff?

Sincerely,
Brian Malone