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Letter to the UCSC student community
My personal statement in reaction to student criticism of the occupations and protests at UCSC.
One Voice From Behind The Barricades.
I speak as one of many involved in the UCSC protests, the occupation of Kresge Town Hall, and Kerr Hall. I'll admit that when the rally began, in addition to my outrage over the Regents' 32% fee hike, I felt deeply skeptical. The tuition increase makes it impossible for me to continue attending UCSC. Still, I thought that perhaps it was better to proceed without radical action, that we could play by the rules and still get our message out. I walked away from Kerr Hall convinced otherwise. These protests have not been the random acts of a relative few, intent on causing havoc. Rather, we are a community of students, faculty and workers who have taken direct action because we refuse to speak with a quiet voice and allow ourselves to be overlooked. The administration has refused to acknowledge our concerns and has forced us to use any means possible of conveying our message.
I know students across campus share this skepticism. I know even many of those who support our cause believe that we are wrong to fight for it in this way. I have heard that all we are doing is pointlessly breaking the law, interfering with classes and student life, and causing costly damage. I have heard that we are being counterproductive, that the administration is less likely to listen to student concerns as a whole, if this is how we go about voicing ours. I have heard that we are rabble rousing criminals who stand for nothing.
In the eyes of the administration, direct action represents a serious threat. We are encouraged to express our dissent in discourse, but expressions of dissent through action are criminalized. Action demands to be noticed, and commands a spotlight that is not attainable through discussion. Action provokes discourse. We occupied the main administrative building on UCSC campus, and we held it for three days. This might seem like a minor achievement, or a fruitless display of discontent. But through this, we forced the administration to pay attention. For those three days, our voice was heard directly. And now, our voice still echoes.
Our actions are, if nothing else, a pebble tossed into quiet water. If we accomplish 'nothing,' as we have according to many students I have spoken to, at least we have sparked a ripple. And long after the ripple fades, the surface is only deceptively still. The next pebble tossed, the next action started, sparks a bigger ripple, building off of any earlier disturbance, and escalating. Enough pebbles, enough small disruptions to the quiet, gather momentum of their own accord, causing still water to become dynamic.
The end of the Kerr Hall protest was not the end of the struggle to reclaim Our University. All I can hope is that each student, those inside and outside, makes their own stand. We are in solidarity with you, regardless. I support any voice, brazen or quiet, that makes its discontent with the current situation known.