Solidarity from (G)SOC

by

Dear friends and colleagues,

We are writing to express our solidarity with the Kerr
Hall protest and to challenge the UCSC Administration’s
blatantly dishonest statements about the action. This
protest was not the expression of a “relative few”;
rather, it was supported by a broad spectrum of students,
faculty, and campus workers. While outrage over the
Regents’ fee hike sparked this action, the students in
Kerr Hall quickly provided a list of seven local demands,
giving the UCSC Administration an opportunity to protect
members of the UCSC community from the skewed budget
priorities of the UC Office of the President. (Visit
http://people.ucsc.edu/~bmalone/Kerr_Hall_Demands.html to
see these demands.) Sadly, the UCSC Administration
refused to take this opportunity. After eight hours of
negotiations, the Administration responded that no
specific promise or outcome would be the result of this
peaceful action.

It was the Administration’s bad faith bargaining and
threat of force that led frightened students inside the
building to barricade the doors. The Administration
summoned riot police not out of concern for a peaceful
resolution, but rather out of an administrative vendetta
against the students. As the Santa Cruz Sentinel reports,
Professor Bettina Aptheker was negotiating at the time
with EVC Kliger on behalf of the students: “I told Kliger,
‘If you give me another five minutes I think I could get
the door open.’ And he said, ‘I don’t have five
minutes.'”

Kliger has claimed that the protest will prevent the
reopening of Kerr Hall for several days. UCSC
spokesperson Jim Burns estimated the cost of the damage in
the “thousands.” These statements are preposterous. A
cursory examination of the Administration’s own posted
photos shows that the “damages” amount to little more than
some leftover food and a bunch of paper in need of
recycling. As for the more substantial complaints:
overturned refrigerators can be turned upright,
communications equipment (which was not “ripped out” per
Kliger’s email, but rather unplugged) can be reconnected,
and a broken table can no doubt be replaced–all at a cost
significantly less than “thousands of dollars.”

Of course, without the Administration’s use of police
force and demand for immediate evacuation, the mess would
have been cleaned up by the protesters themselves before
they left the building. It is the Administration’s choice
to force UCSC janitorial staff to clean up Kerr Hall. In
fact, a large group of sympathetic students (some involved
in the occupation, some not) has volunteered to perform
the cleanup, so as not to inconvenience janitors who are
already stretched too thin by the UCSC Administration’s
brutal imposition of layoffs and furloughs. We cannot
help but question, once again, Kliger’s honesty.

The Administration has threatened criminal and
administrative charges against the students involved.
Given the Administration’s record of mendacity and bad
faith, combined with the chilling effects such charges
would have on student free speech, we demand that no
charges of any kind be pursued. Peaceful civil
disobedience is an essential part of all movements for
social justice. While it should not be the only tactic,
it is particularly necessary when we are faced with an
administration that refuses to engage in any meaningful
dialogue with students, faculty, and workers.

In solidarity,

(Graduate) Student Organizing Committee

(G)SOC is a group of graduate and undergraduate students
committed to public education, the rollback of fees, and
transparency and fairness in
UC’s budget process. We can be reached at
TeachTheBudgetUCSC {at} gmail [dot] com

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