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Indybay FeatureRelated Categories: Santa Cruz Indymedia | Education & Student Activism
Tent University Built and UCSC Main Campus Shut Down During Occupy Education Actions
On March 1, hundreds of students at the University of California Santa Cruz, with the aid of local community members, built a tent university at the base of campus as a part a coordinated day of Occupy Education actions statewide. A general strike with regards to the main campus was also planned, and students blocked both entrances to the university and effectively shutdown UCSC for approximately 16 hours. In the words of one UC police officer that day, "students have taken control of the campus."
It was a cold, rainy day, but according to reports from demonstrators, hundreds of students showed up to both entrances of the UC Santa Cruz campus during the pre-dawn hours. Police subsequently set up roadblocks down the hill from the campus entrance on Bay Street, and vehicular traffic heading towards UCSC was limited. While the police barricades were in place, the actual blockade of the main entrance was only casually maintained by the demonstrators. At the time of the first rally, which was scheduled for noon, tents and geodesic domes were set up, and a variety of classes and workshops were held. At the rally, in addition to student speakers, professors spoke, as did community members involved with Occupy Santa Cruz.
The organizers of Tent University hoped for it to be a, "space in which we can plan, discuss and organize our opposition to the forces that are daily at work turning our public institutions into profit driven enterprises." Adding to this description on the UC Santa Cruz March 1st Strike website, students went on to state, "A Tent University is a threat to a traditional university administration. It is a declaration that what makes a university work is not what goes on in Kerr Hall or in Regent meetings; it is a statement that a university can function without a bloated administrative apparatus, without Regents at all."
At the height of the event, one community member observed 6 or 7 workshops and classes being held as part of Tent University. The creation of the alternative university also included entertainment in the form of spoken word performances and bands scheduled to play, and hot food was served.
Organizers of the event urged participants to, "bring a tent," and some people did plan to "occupy" the bottom of campus overnight. By the early evening, however, the number of people present at the main entrance to campus began to decrease, and after a general assembly was held in the middle of the road, it was clear that the blockade would not be continued through the night, and that no one would be staying in their tents.
A letter in support of the strike, signed prior to the event by UCSC faculty members, stated:
"The past six months have brought increased awareness about growing inequalities and the capture of public resources by a small minority of private individuals and interests. Protests on our own campuses at the University of California have joined the global and national movements against these inequalities.
We call for the UC to re-affirm its commitment to serve the public good, to reset its priorities to put students first, to reverse the growth in administration and foster instruction and research, and, by taking all of these actions, to restore its role as the university of the people of California. We call on the State of California to fully fund the California Master Plan."
UCSC March 1 Strike/Tent University:
Tent University Built and UCSC Main Campus Shut Down During Occupy Education Actions, Pt 2