BERKELEY, California – Last Fall saw a 32 percent tuition increase in the UC system, but perhaps equally memorable was the array of occupations throughout the UC and CSU systems. At Cal, dozens of occupiers, now better known as the Wheeler 43, took over Wheeler Hall on November 20, 2009. Only now, nearly a year later have we seen any judicial proceedings on the matter — albeit, proceedings in a kangaroo court. Laura Zelko opted and fought to hold her hearing open to the public; even after 12 hours at the initial meeting that continued past midnight, the hearing panelists were unable to decide the verdict. This case will continue today at 5:30pm. (SF Chronicle published a story on Ms. Zelko’s case.)
According to ReclaimUC, the possibility of a lawsuit potentially being brought against the UC Berkeley Office of Student Conduct is unnerving the administration a little. Additionally, Cal is now paying tens of thousands of dollars on merely technical and staffing aspects of the hearings, let alone legal costs potentially yet unreported. So far, the sanctions against student protesters include such things as 7-month suspensions and reflective essays that serve more to “re-educate” protesters on the the proper protocols of innocuous political demonstrations than actually provide insightful ruminations. Seemingly, the high cost of punishing demonstrators is well worth it for the UC administration as long as it’s able to push its political will onto campus. With the coming 8% tuition increase and a slew of mini-crises hitting the UC — including the troubling police and judicial repression of protest to the pension fight of low-paid workers to the contract struggle for teaching assistants — it’s a wonder the university isn’t splitting at the seams.