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Students Demand a Democratic UC Board of Regents and No More Nuclear Weapons; 12 Lockdown

by The Coalition to Free the UC
Outraged over the undemocratic nature of the University of California Board of Regents and the Regents’ continued management of the national nuclear weapon labs, on March 19th, 2008, students from the Coalition to Free the UC took nonviolent direct action at the UC Regents meeting at UCSF Mission Bay campus in an attempt to obstruct their ability to meet.
“For over 50 years, students, faculty, and community members have tried to persuade the Regents to stop building nuclear weapons. We’ve used normal means such as petitions. At one point, student governments from every UC campus passed a resolution asking the Regents to sever ties from the nuclear weapons labs, to no avail. The Regents’ lack of response has left us little choice but to escalate our dissent,” said UC Berkeley peace and conflict studies student Matthew Taylor.

Twelve Free the UC members locked themselves to doorways with bicycle U-Locks around their necks, while others unfurled banners stating “Democratize the Regents,” “Money for education not nuclear weapons,” and “Eliminate the SAT.” Other issues raised included UC’s continued privatization and corporatization as evidenced by UC’s $500 million deal with British Petroleum, UC’s continued internment of 13,000 Native remains against the wishes of Tribal Leaders, the environmentally destructive UCSC Long Range Development Plan, and UC’s plans to cut down Berkeley’s Memorial Oak Grove.

Meanwhile, with their comrades in lockdown, other Free the UC members convened an “Alternative Regents Meeting” in the grassy field in front of the building, and attempted to model what a transparent, accountable, responsible, participatory, and democratic Regents meeting would look like.

"The phrase 'westward the course of empire takes its way' by Bishop Berkeley was the University's mantra from the day it was founded. UC is still very much an imperial institution, with its involvement in the neocolonial ambitions of British Petroleum and UC's crucial role in the military industrial complex. What would a just, diverse, and peaceful public university look like? Our goal is not just to disrupt one UC Regents meeting, but to empower students and raise awareness among the community about the need for fundamental, structural change in the University of California. It's up to us to start a mass movement," added Taylor.

Entitled “Free the UC Day,” the day of action was part of March 19th Direct Action to Stop the War in downtown San Francisco. Ten of those who locked down were ultimately arrested and cited for “disturbing the peace” and other misdemeanors, and released within a few hours on their own recognizance. Over 100 students from five UC campuses participated.

Nine key issues for Free the UC Day:

1) Endorse democratization of the UC Board of Regents. Free the UC asks the Regents to write a letter to the Governor endorsing an amendment to the state Constitution to provide for democratic election of the UC Regents.

2) UC stop designing nuclear weapons. For decades, students, faculty, and community members have attempted to persuade the UC Regents to sever ties from the nuclear weapons labs, to no avail.

3) Stop student fee hikes. Fees should be immediately frozen, with the long-term goal of returning to the Master Plan’s mandate for tuition-free.

4) Eliminate the discriminatory SAT from the admission process. The UC Regents should adopt the faculty proposal to eliminate the SAT II, as well as eliminate the entire SAT in UC admissions, and work toward increasing underrepresented minority enrollment.

5) Release the 13,000 Native Remains held at the Phoebe Hearst Museum. UC Berkeley continues to inter 13,000 Native American remains. We ask that the Regents request that Chancellor Birgeneau meet with Native American Leaders and Elders in order to resolve the matter.

6) Fair wages for UC workers. UC workers deserve a fair contract and a wage increase to overcome the 26% gap between UC public workers, and other public workers who are doing the same job for other State institutions. UC workers deserve a step system based on seniority and fair healthcare and retirement benefits plans.

7) Cancel the UCSC Long Range Development Plan. We urge the Regents to rescind the LRDP and engage with students and community members to draft a new plan. In promising widespread destruction to a sensitive ecological hot spot that includes a redwood forest and endangered species, the LRDP will bring irremediable damages.

8) Save Berkeley’s Memorial Oak Grove. Thousands of people have tried to persuade UC administrators to build the new sports training facility – the “Student Athlete High Performance Center” – in an alternative location.

9) Cancel the British Petroleum and Dow Chemical contracts, and stop the increasing privatization and corporatization of the University. British Petroleum and Dow Chemicals are two corporations with extensive, well-documented records of environmental crimes and human rights violations. We request that the UC Regents cancel its contract with British Petroleum, and donate Dow Chemical’s money to the victims of the Bhopal disaster.

Contact: please email freetheuc {{at} gmail {{dot}} com. For more in-depth info on these issues and Free the UC, please visit:
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by UC Student
10) Free the Animals. No More Vivisection. Stop UC Berkeley Vivisection! 40,000 animals currently caged. The UC uses restraining orders against activists who oppose these atrocities using the tactic of home demonstrations. UCLA Primate Freedom Project. UCLA Primate Freedom is one of several chapters of the Primate Freedom Project in the U.S. Our general goal is simple: an end to all primate vivisection at the UCLA campus. We have a rich history of activism in Los Angeles and we'll continue our tradition of educating the public and confronting the vivisectors wherever they go.
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