UC Santa Cruz students occupy campus building in protest of cuts

by on September 27, 2009 · 7 comments

in Civil Disobedience, Civil Rights, Economy, Education, Organizing, War and Peace

UCSantaCruz occupy

Students gather in protest at UC Santa Cruz. (J.M. Brown/Sentinel)

Editor: We have heard that students at UC Santa Cruz have taken over a campus building in protest of the cuts proposed for the UC system.  On September 24th, students at UC Santa Cruz began the occupation of the Graduate Student Commons as part of a day of action at all UCs across the state.

They have set up a website here.  The students have issued the following statement:

We are occupying this building at the University of California, Santa Cruz, because the current situation has become untenable. Across the state, people are losing their jobs and getting evicted, while social services are slashed. California’s leaders from state officials to university presidents have demonstrated how they will deal with this crisis: everything and everyone is subordinated to the budget. They insulate themselves from the consequences of their own fiscal mismanagement, while those who can least afford it are left shouldering the burden. Every solution on offer only accelerates the decay of the State of California. It remains for the people to seize what is theirs.

The current attack on public education – under the guise of a fiscal emergency – is merely the culmination of a long-term trend. California’s regressive tax structure has undermined the 1960 Master Plan for free education. In this climate, the quality of K-12 education and the performance of its students have declined by every metric.

Due to cuts to classes in Community Colleges, over 50,000 California youth have been turned away from the doors of higher education. California State University will reduce its enrollment by 40,000 students system wide for 2010-2011. We stand in solidarity with students across the state because the same things are happening to us.

At the University of California, the administration will raise student fees to an unprecedented $10,300, a 32 percent increase in one year. Graduate students and lecturers return from summer vacation to find that their jobs have been cut; faculty and staff are forced to take furloughs. Entire departments are being gutted. Classes for undergraduates and graduates are harder to get into while students pay more. The university is being run like a corporation.

Let’s be frank: the promise of a financially secure life at the end of a university education is fast becoming an illusion. The jobs we are working toward will be no better than the jobs we already have to pay our way through school. Close to three-quarters of students work, many full-time. Even with these jobs, student loan volume rose 800 percent from 1977 to 2003. There is a direct connection between these deteriorating conditions and those impacting workers and families throughout California. Two million people are now unemployed across the state. 1.5 million more are underemployed out of a workforce of twenty million. As formerly secure, middle-class workers lose their homes to foreclosure, Depression-era shantytowns are cropping up across the state. The crisis is severe and widespread, yet the proposed solutions – the governor and state assembly organizing a bake sale to close the budget gap – are completely absurd.

We must face the fact that the time for pointless negotiations is over. Appeals to the UC administration and Sacramento are futile; instead, we appeal to each other, to the people with whom we are struggling, and not to those whom we struggle against. A single day of action at the university is not enough because we cannot afford to return to business as usual. We seek to form a unified movement with the people of California. Time and again, factional demands are turned against us by our leaders and used to divide social workers against teachers, nurses against students, librarians against park rangers, in a competition for resources they tell us are increasingly scarce. This crisis is general, and the revolt must be generalized. Escalation is absolutely necessary. We have no other option.

Occupation is a tactic for escalating struggles, a tactic recently used at the Chicago Windows and Doors factory and at the New School in New York City. It can happen throughout California too. As undergraduates, graduate students, faculty, and staff, we call on everyone at the UC to support this occupation by continuing the walkouts and strikes into tomorrow, the next day, and for the indefinite future. We call on the people of California to occupy and escalate.

Press Contact: (eight-three-one) 332.8916

UC Santa Cruz students remain barricaded in commons as part of protest

By J.M. Brown /MercuryNews.com/ Sentinel staff writer/ originally posted Sept. 25, 2009

SANTA CRUZ – A day after a large rally against tuition hikes and pay cuts, several dozen UC Santa Cruz students and workers remained barricaded in the Graduate Student Commons on Friday in an effort to continue Thursday’s walkout and strike.

Protesters took over the second floor of the Commons building at 5 p.m. Thursday after marching from the site of a demonstration and picket line formed by a union representing about 150 UCSC employees. Banners saying “Raise Hell, Not Costs” and “We Are the Crisis” were hung over the balcony of the Commons area, where participants later playing loud music and hosting a dance party.

Doors barricaded by furniture and metal cords stretched between door handles can be seen from the rear of the 8-year-old building, which is built on a slope. The words “Occupy Everything” have been spray-painted in black on the back of the building.

Participants are calling the move a peaceful “occupation.” They say no student who has requested access to the space – which is ordinarily used for studying or socializing – has been denied.

For the remainder of this article, go here.

{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

avatar Monty Kroopkin September 27, 2009 at 10:44 pm

The analysis we are seeing from the students and faculty and staff in the UC system is like a breath of fresh air. Why are people in this country so slow to act to defend our own class interests, compared to all the people we are hearing about daily everywhere else in the world? It is high time that we all get more serious about fighting back and not allowing all the hard fought gains of past generations to be undone by the corporate elite, with all their made-to-order budget shortfalls (and their still existing huge tax breaks for themselves).

We need free public education to be RESTORED as a basic value. We need free public health care and many other things which we COULD (no, can) afford if we REPEAL all the criminal tax cuts for the rich, and if we SHUT DOWN all the military bases we have in more than 40 other countries. These 2 things, alone, would give us enough funds to have a decent and morally responsible society.

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avatar ken keegan September 28, 2009 at 2:19 pm

You got it all right, Monty! If we lead with our heart, our mind and body will follow. Enlightened self interest is the only way to make corporate America understand that kindness and intelligence can actually turn a profit. UC has so much money in reserve, it is ridiculous to cut jobs and departments without using these funds. Wake up, UC! That rainy day is here! You work for us and you are supposed to be non-profit. Spend that money and stop making money on the backs of workers. California requires all companies in the state to pay employees twice a week, too. You make interest on monthly paychecks by drawing interest. This must stop! Pay weekly and lead by example.

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avatar nunya September 28, 2009 at 12:08 pm

There always seems to be money for prisons. Not that these asinine pedicab owners who screw J-1 visa college kids ever end up there.

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avatar ken keegan September 28, 2009 at 2:08 pm

Thank you, OB Rag! As an OB lover and former inhabitant, I want to applaud your coverage of this action. As an artist, UCSC alum and Slug bus driver, it is important to get the word out. OB has a lot of ties with UCSC as spiritual siblings and progressive idealists. I am supporting the takeover of the building as UC administrators will not listen to students or staff unless similar actions are taken. I have personally witnessed the ongoing dismantling of UCSC’s transportation and community studies program. Drivers are working harder than ever as supervisers squeeze more work in less time, drop routes routinely and get rid of productive and honest staff. Larry Pageler and Allison Johnson have managed to destroy the department in less than two years while lying to students and hiding resources that make the system less efficient and moral is at an all time low. The students have the power because it is their money that speaks to the UC authorities. Fight the good fight for honest conversation and keep this beautiful campus alive with your great courage and spirit! Again, thank you OB Rag!

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avatar occupy california September 30, 2009 at 3:10 am

dear ken keegan,

would you consider writing a solidarity statement for the occupation? or even just allow a slightly edited version of your comments above to be posted on the website? thanks. it could be anonymous if you want. send to occupycalifornia (at–) gmail.com

— yet another autonomous committee within the occupation

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avatar john October 2, 2009 at 4:00 pm

As someone who was only afforded the luxury of an 11th grade public education before being unceremoniously booted out into the harsh world of self sustainance, I wonder what misplaced set of priorities has left us thinking everyone should receive or needs an extended “institution of higher learning” education.
I can’t deny I wish I had a framed diploma on the wall, and the additional income all studies say it would bring.
However the pursuit of this end goal and all the trappings of the “American Dream” is what got us to this point of dire financial straits in the first place- the rat race of everyone trampling each other to have a 2500 sq ft suburban home with an Escalade or RV out front. That’s what is surely on the mind of most of these students, if not their parents who motivate them.
Since many of the jobs I was denied only wanted that diploma for its own worth, not anything I’d be taught in securing it, (management positions) I’m not going to feel bad about not wanting shrinking public revenues go wanting elsewhere to pay for everyone demanding what I didn’t get myself.
The gist is we’re all hurting. Some will complain when the cuts get to them personally, that’s all this is, nothing to see here, move along….

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avatar Monty Kroopkin October 4, 2009 at 12:35 pm

Bill Gates is not hurting. Get real, John.

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