a rebuttal to UCSC Executive Vice Chancellor Kliger:
It has been said by EVC Kliger that the occupiers have “deprived all of us the freedom to carry out our work”; that freedom of speech is important, but that it has limits and, thus, that hundreds of students and staff are engaging in a form of speech that should not be protected or listened to; that the normal functioning of UCSC should continue without any discussion about how the money we pay in taxes and tuition is used; and, finally, that the current administration is the only one listening to the corpses in the graveyard (to paraphrase President Yudof).
WE say that furloughs, massive increases in tuition, and staff and resource reductions have already, “deprived all of us the freedom to carry out our work.” We are firmly in agreement that freedom of speech is important, yet the continued refusal to talk to or negotiate with students or staff makes manifest that the administration willfully ignores us when we speak. We have seen over the past few years that contracts with employees can always be broken: we refuse to accept that a contract the UC enters into (undemocratically and with student money) with Lockheed Martin is more sacred than a contract that the UC enters into with the custodial staff over wages. Finally, we find it demonstrably false that the administration listens to us. We receive no response to petitions, marches, one-day demonstrations or requests for general assemblies where the budget can be discussed. The UC Regents and Yudof put students into a position where the exercise of our free speech occurs in empty space, far removed from CA legislators and UC Regents – votes about the financial future of most of the student/parent population happen in the absence of those who are most effected.
Students at all UC campuses have been asking, and are now demanding, to speak with those who claim to make decisions in our names. We reject UCOP’s [UC Office of the President] decisions and their notion of democracy. We would like to note that it is not just students at the UC’s, Cal States, Community Colleges and high schools that are in support of us. We would not be engaging in these actions if we had not received support from staff and faculty at each of the UC institutions. We are not spoiled individuals: rather, we are a diverse community of students, staff, and faculty who are all engaging in a multiplicity of democratic actions to return the UC to the Master Plan and its place as the world’s premier educational system.
The demands that are ‘too numerous’ to discuss, and for that reason not worth listening to, are simple: among our demands are that the 15% cuts to the janitorial staff be repealed, that UCSC be a safe space for undocumented members of the community, and amnesty for those students who are attempting to peacefully and democratically engage with those who are deciding our financial future. Again, the UC Regents and local administrators decide the tactics we use: we will continue to engage in a multiplicity of peaceful and democratic actions until our voice is recognized. We understand that not everyone can participate in the same ways: we urge every student, parent and staff member to engage by any means they can. We think that none of these tactics in isolation will work. We’ve heard all of our lives that we are special and that we can make the impossible possible: we believe that, but only in a strong community dedicated to this goal. We welcome every person who is striving to be heard and encourage as many different kinds of participation as possible. We, unlike UCOP, are seeking to expand the debate, to engage in our rights to speak and to be heard!