On Friday, October 30th, Doug Zuidema, Director of Judiciary Affairs at UCSC, notified a collection of students — many of whom were journalists reporting outside the Humanities 2 Occupation — that they were potentially subject to disciplinary proceedings. The charge: simply being present in a space in which a political action was taking place. On Thursday evening, UCSC officials dispatched campus police to disperse a group of students and faculty meeting in a library to discuss the impact of the budget crisis on public education. University officials are engaged in an armed campaign to intimidate protestors, threaten press coverage of political action and restrict students’ and workers’ right to assemble. After witnessing two occupations on a single campus during the first month of the academic calendar, the UCSC administration is terrified that a new radical student-worker movement is gaining strength and numbers. The University increasingly functions like a police apparatus: taking surveillance photos at protests, compiling dossiers on individuals, modifying response protocols and manufacturing phony charges against students and workers for kangaroo courts. As further evidence of administrative paranoia, university officials preemptively evacuated several buildings which were thought to be the targets of future occupations.
In the eyes of the bureaucrats running this system, direct action constitutes a serious threat. Their response strategy is clear: attack anyone around political actions — and anyone discussing them for that matter — in order to scare away support for any political action at all. These are attempts to govern with fear, to silence our dissent. The administration seeks to divide us from one another, to alienate “the protestors” from “the campus community.” But we are increasingly realizing the truth of our collective situation: our community is being torn apart by this crisis. We are the crisis. These expressions of dissent through action ARE forms of discourse as well. They are modes of opening conversation beyond the limited forums available and ways of provoking discussion.
This is a call to students, workers, and faculty to support the freedom of the press, freedom of assembly and freedom of speech on this campus. We can use these disciplinary actions and police operations as a flashpoint for generalizing our collective struggle. Indeed, a diversity of tactics will be necessary in the days to come. It would be a perilous mistake to tolerate these brute tactics of intimidation and threat.
To the active demand for a free society, the University responds with a pair of handcuffs and a can of mace. There is a word for this policy: barbarism.
None of this should come as a surprise. The administration encourages us to express our dissent in discourse, but they criminalize all expression of dissent through action. It is only during a real political crisis that we catch sight of this ugly fact, lurking behind the glimmering facade of every ivory tower.