UCI’s Langson Library Now Open 24 Hours

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IRVINE – Responding to plans to occupy Langson Library on Friday, December 4 – the weekend before final exams – and threats of an indefinite study-in, the UCI administration decided on Tuesday to open the library from 8am December 4 until 5pm December 11.  Vice Chancellor Manuel Gomez (himself a former radical-turned-administrator, who admittedly “used to fly the black flag” but now knows better than us) made the announcement in an email sent to the student body: “In consultation with ASUCI, we are prioritizing student study needs during Finals Week. We are pleased to announce that we will be keeping Langson Library open 24-hours a day beginning 8 a.m. Friday, Dec. 4 and ending 5 p.m. Friday, Dec. 11.”  While ironic that amid a 32% tuition hike, 1200 layoffs, cuts to already-funded student services (such as SAAS), and the arrest of one student organizer they finally give a shit about student needs, the decision to open the library has more to do with a broader strategy to co-opt and preempt student dissent and action, and the reality that it would have cost the administration more to pay police overtime to staff the occupation than to actually open the library to students.

While by no means ideal, UCI students consider this a victory.  Even with the wind taken out of their sails, students and faculty continued on with a study-in to draw attention to the role of student action in opening the library.  About 50 students and faculty took over a graduate-only reading room at 5pm and opened it to the public, holding teach-ins and discussions about the university’s structural adjustment programs, a meeting earlier in the day with Chancellor Michael Drake, and future actions.  The study-in ended around 7:30pm, with future meetings and actions planned and a clearer understanding of where we are now and how to move forward.

A few of the things to come out of the action:

  • A former UCI graduate student, now a professor at the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM), shared her knowledge of UNAM’s past student strikes and actions.  Students have traditionally held a university-wide referendum with about four questions, open to students, faculty, workers, and administration.  With the results showing significant opposition to the administration, with the only real dissent coming from administration and some faculty, students have leveraged this consensus to justify actions like the 1999 student strike.  UCI organizers have stated an interest in making this referendum happen, possibly near the end of Winter Quarter.  The referendum should be coordinated across the UCs, and could be adopted by the CSUs and Community Colleges.  A sample question: Do you oppose the privatization of the University of California?
  • There is a desire among some faculty and students to begin alternative learning programs.  There are proposals for a lecture about the budget crisis, and another calling for autonomous, student-run courses.
  • The meeting with Drake and Gomez earlier in the day revealed a few things.  Drake refused to condemn police violence against students or lobby for amnesty for John Bruning, a graduate student in Sociology and member of the Radical Student Union who was arrested at a protest on November 24.  His stated reason was that he didn’t want to “step on UCIPD Chief Henisey’s toes.”  Even after seeing video of violence against students, he said that he would not ask for an independent or even internal investigation, but that an investigation might happen if students filed complaints to the Police Department.  At the very least, it is easy to file complaints – lots of them – and it will cost the police considerable money to process them.  Gomez added that students shouldn’t be surprised to be beaten when they encounter police, as if advocating for Bodyhammer study groups.
  • A faculty member brought up a May 2008 interview with Mark Yudof published in the San Francisco Gate newspaper.  Even 18 months before the 32% tuition hike was voted on, and perhaps 6 months before the extent of the budget crisis was understood, Academic Senate was calling for tuition to rise to over $10,000 immediately and to $18,000 by the 2011-12 school year.  Yudof also makes comments suggesting that he will “trim the fat” from the budget.  The comments provide additional information about Yudof’s tenure at the University of Minnesota and the University of Texas, suggesting that he may have been hired to carry out such hikes, cuts, and restructuring as we’re seeing now.
  • There is also a clear attempt now by Academic Senate to undermine the student movement by defining the terms of debate and action and legitimizing police action against students.  There was a proposal that we divert some energy to opposing those members of the Academic Senate that oppose us.
  • Throughout the study-in, there were multiple police stationed inside Aldrich Hall, UCI’s administration building.  It is clear that police are being instructed to defend Aldrich at all costs, to keep any forms of dissent and accountability out of the administration’s home.

The study-in did not go as planned, but rather than hitting a dead end we just turned.  There are even more students plugged into the struggle, and even more energy for the prospect of direct action and occupation.  UCI isn’t in the same place as Santa Cruz or Berkeley, but we’re catching up fast.

5 Responses to “UCI’s Langson Library Now Open 24 Hours”

  1. Langson Library Now Open 24 Hours « Occupy UCI! Says:

    […] December 6, 2009 in Uncategorized From Occupy CA: […]

  2. UCInsurgency Says:

    http://www.universityofcalifornia.edu/news/article/22482

    Letter to UC community

    We are the Academic Council of the university: We are the chairs of the 10 campus divisions, as well as the chairs of the systemwide committees. We write to address the protests on many of UC campuses over the Regents’ decision to increase student fees by $2,500 per year. This decision followed budget shortfalls that have entailed significant staff layoffs and cuts to a range of student services. Faculty and staff also are suffering from significant reductions in compensation due to the current year’s salary reductions and furloughs.

    We share the anguish over the policies adopted in the face of the state’s abrupt 20 percent disinvestment in higher education. The budget shortfall wounds the institution and community we cherish. We believe these policies are a regrettable but necessary response to the state’s actions. While we are committed to doing everything we can to mitigate their effects on the most vulnerable populations of our students and staff, we recognize that many disagree deeply, and that vigorous and vocal protest is an understandable response. The passionate advocacy of students, staff, and faculty for the university and its public mission has been remarkable.

    Many of the protest activities were appropriate forms of peaceful advocacy. We are concerned, however, about activities at several campuses that disrupted our educational mission and interfered with the freedom of fellow students, faculty, and staff, to teach, learn, research, and work. We are especially concerned about group protests in which a number of individuals attempted to move past police barricades, physically threaten and throw objects at police, and surround vehicles to trap those within. These activities are unlawful and disrespectful of the rights of others, and they create a serious risk of violence for everyone in the area: police, protestors, and bystanders. A number of injuries, some serious, were sustained last week by both protestors and police officers.

    We will insist, through all avenues open to us, that uses of force by police will be subject to inquiry and review, as well as the policies that govern crowd control. While we expect campus police professionals to be committed to accommodating peaceful protest, we realize that there may be failures of policy or individual action. We are committed to ensuring that the university remains a place where it is safe to teach and learn – and engage in peaceful protest.

    At the same time, we wish to remind everyone of the limits of protest, and of our obligation to be civil, to show respect for different points of view, and to take personal responsibility for our own and each other’s safety. Occupation of university buildings, for example, directly interferes with the rights of other members of the community.

    The problems that confront our university are daunting, and finding solutions to them will require the collective best efforts of our students, faculty, staff, and members of the community. Tempers will worsen and patience will shorten as these policies take hold, but we must channel our energies outwards, towards advocating for restoring funding to the University of California so that it can fulfill its mission of providing democratic access to the great research universities of our state.

    Sincerely,

    Henry C. Powell, Chair, Academic Senate
    Daniel L. Simmons, Vice Chair, Academic Senate
    Christopher Kutz, Chair, UC Berkeley Divisional Senate
    Robert Powell, Chair, UC Davis Divisional Senate
    Judith Stepan-Norris, Chair, UC Irvine Divisional Senate
    Robin L. Garrell, Chair, UCLA Divisional Senate
    Martha Conklin, Chair, UC Merced Divisional Senate
    Anthony W. Norman, Chair, UC Riverside Divisional Senate
    William Hodgkiss, Chair, UC San Diego Divisional Senate
    Elena Fuentes-Afflick, Chair, UC San Francisco Divisional Senate
    Joel Michaelsen, Chair, UC Santa Barbara Divisional Senate
    Lori Kletzer, Chair, UC Santa Cruz Divisional Senate
    Sylvia Hurtado, Chair, Board of Admissions and Relations with Schools
    Farid Chehab, Chair, Coordinating Committee on Graduate Affairs
    M. Ines Boechat, Chair, University Committee on Affirmative Action and Diversity
    Alison Butler, Chair, University Committee on Academic Personnel
    Keith R. Williams, Chair, University Committee on Educational Policy
    Shane White, Chair, University Committee on Faculty Welfare
    Gregory Miller, Chair, University Committee on Research Policy
    Peter Krapp, Chair, University Committee on Planning and Budget

  3. Brook Haley Says:

    Yes, do not be discouraged. The wind was not out of the sails, it just blew in a new direction, and changing tack will take some time over the break. Any student activist will tell you that finals and a winter break will deflate the movement–temporarily.

    I hope that Defend UCI and other groups will take some time over the break to plan first-week activities. Remember that students will be smarting from the winter fee increase (those who could afford it and can return), and their anger needs an amplifier, because Drake and co. have the cotton of privatization stuffed in their ears.

    Drake has the further disadvantage of being just a few years into learning how to deal with tens of thousands of students. He comes from a medical school, and worked for years at UCOP, leaving him little opportunity to understand undergraduate and academic grad students’ issues. UCI faculty had serious reservations about his appointment for this reason; Dynes appointed Drake for two reasons, I believe: he makes a good crony, and he has an M.D. The appointment came as yet more UCI Medical scandals were getting national attention: years of horrifying news about fertility clinic, willed body, organ transplant, and other programs. People died, and perhaps more horrifying to admin, the lawsuits were growing. UCI needed a doctor at the helm–for the image at least as much as for the practicalities of Drake’s medical-administrative work at UCOP.

    He is fond of making grand statements that seem firm but only serve as rhetorical roadblocks that people take too quickly for confidence in his decisions and knowledge of the problems in question. There is no water or sand in those barrels blocking off lanes to real change. Barrel through them.

    A key question: where did the funds to run Langson 24/7 come from? UCI’s budget has pockets of cash all over the place, including a kind of slush fund that administrators have never explained fully. How much?

  4. A. Lacis Says:

    Meanwhile… (reposted from Student Activism)

    CSU Stanislaus Students Take Complaints to President’s Door

    December 7, 2009 in Students | Leave a comment

    A crowd of students from California State University Stanislaus that the Modesto Bee estimated at “several dozen” spent a chunk of Saturday afternoon at the home of CSUS president Hamid Shirvani.

    To be precise, they were on his front lawn.

    One member of the group knocked on Shirvani’s door and got no answer, so the crowd spent an hour chanting and talking to reporters.

    The protest was conceived after a meeting of student activists from a number of CSU campuses. It represents the latest step in the expansion of California budget protests, which for most of the semester were concentrated primarily in the University of California, to the Cal State system.

    Asked about university reports that someone rang Shirvani’s door “multiple times” the following morning, protester Barbara Olave said, “that’s not us.”

  5. UC Semester not quite over yet… « The New School Reoccupied Says:

    […] UC Irvine, administrators caved to a similar threat and agreed to keep the library open 24 hours to preempt a similar action. Posted by andyfolk Filed in Action Tags: free school, live week, […]

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