Dear Students, Staff, and Faculty,
I would like to take the opportunity to clear up some the misconceptions surrounding last night’s demonstration at Cowell College and Humanities 2, misconceptions made worse by EVC David Kliger’s willfully alarmist letter to the campus community.
Last night a group of students held a potluck dinner and discussion session on the steps of the Cowell College courtyard. We were there to discuss what can be done to fight back against the cuts to our public education system and to think of ways to force the administration of UCSC and the larger UC system to recognize that we, as students, staff, and faculty, will not passively sit by as the administration attempts to deal with its budget crisis according to the same failed blueprint that it has used for the last decade. We have concluded that we should not accept more fee hikes, tuition increases, decreased course offerings, benefit cuts, and the like. We should not sit idly by as the UC administration continues to raise tuition and fees so it can keep on borrowing money for its crackpot development and construction projects. We should not accept tuition increases (tuition is now, for the first time in history, over $10,000 per year), that limit access to a university education, and which disproportionately affect poor and minority students whose parents don’t have the luxury of spending tens of thousands of dollars on our educations. Recently, the entire state of California has learned of the salaries that UC administrators give themselves. I believe that it is outrageous that EVC Kliger can claim to be so concerned about students’ and their families’ budgets given what he and his fellow administrators pay themselves for dismantling our system, and expelling teachers, students and staff from our community. If he really cared, he would help us try to restore UCSC’s commitment to diversity, justice, and equality by fostering a university environment. But we don’t actually think he does. The further up you go in this system, the more acceptable cutbacks and tuition and fee hikes seem to become.
As for Kliger’s astonishment that a peaceful protest would, as one of its tactics, limit access to a small part of campus for a short period of time -when no one was using it- I hardly know what to say. Even the most unsympathetic observer could not fail to place last night’s events in the context of a tradition of peaceful protest and demonstration. Yes, the occupiers attempted to limit access to a nominally public space (again, for a few hours- at night!) for the precise reason of demonstrating that the university is itself in the process of systematically limiting access to thousands of current and future Californians. Most American school children with even a cursory knowledge of the history of nonviolent protests from Gandhi to Dr. King, would not fail to recognize the true nature of last night’s events.
I will end by making two further points. First of all, as to EVC Kliger’s assertion that students were provoking police officers, this is simply untrue. He was not there, and has relied upon the accounts of the police officers who were. Perhaps he would be interested in hearing what others saw, but I doubt it. There are dozens of eyewitnesses who saw, as well as video footage showing, what actually happened. They testify to the fact that there was absolutely no call for baton-wielding police officers to use pepper spray on peacefully assembled, chanting students. I strongly believe that it is nothing short of reprehensible for EVC Kliger to endorse this sort of behavior from police without even asking anyone else what might have happened. Secondly, it simply beggars the imagination that last night’s party and brief occupation could have created ‘tens of thousands’ of dollars in damages. If EVC Kliger wants to talk of the ‘incongruous’ and ‘absurd,’ I suggest he start here. For him to suggest that it will cost that amount to clean a few carpets and wipe off some spray paint is simply ridiculous, and, quite frankly, offensive. It demonstrates a remoteness from the real costs of services and the wages paid to service workers that is simply astounding. It couldn’t conceivably cost more than a few hundred dollars to clean up the ‘damage’ done by the two occupations. For a small fraction of the ‘tens of thousands’ this will supposedly cost, I would be willing to do the job. Just ask me. In conclusion, let me suggest that it is this kind of casual approach to accounting that contributed to the problems we now all face.
Response to Kliger
Dear Students, Staff, and Faculty,