By James Clark
Just over three weeks have passed since protesters climbed into the trees high above Science Hill. With the construction of the biomedical science facility at a halt, the tension from the first day of the protest seems to be dissipating.
The number of students at the protest site has lessened since it began, but many still keep their vigil, both in the trees and on the ground. Those on campus cannot ignore the banners and plants that decorate the parking lot, whether or not they are in support of the protest. But the Long Range Development Program (LRDP) reaches past campus politics to the city of Santa Cruz, where the protest has given residents new voice.
Hal Levin came to Santa Cruz in 1978 and taught for five years at the university. He is currently a member of The Coalition for Limiting University Expansion (CLUE). The group is devoted to challenging the current LRDP, which members feel has caused the campus to grow rampantly and with little restriction.
Levin commented on the LRDP protest, saying that he personally was quite pleased that students have begun to take action against the LRDP.
“The protest simply makes more people aware that at least some people are concerned,” said Levin. “It’s not easy to get fair news coverage, and so far the Santa Cruz Sentinel has been neutral.”
The student protesters and CLUE have not collaborated at this time, but Levin seemed hopeful that they might be able to work together in the future.
“There are some issues around which we could interact and discuss solutions, such as housing and traffic,” he said.
CLUE has been fighting against the UC’s plans to expand because many feel that the city of Santa Cruz cannot support the increased growth, and are worried about the effects that it will have on the community.
Prior to student protests, CLUE fought and won a court battle against UCSC concerning the Environmental Impact Report (EIR). The EIR for the biomedical science facility was found inadequate, and so construction was halted.
Glenette Matlin, who works at Mr. Goodies Antiques on Pacific, has been a Santa Cruz resident since 1986. She voiced her concern, saying, “I’m worried about how bringing in so many students will affect services like the fire department or the police. I’m worried they might be spread too thin.”
The construction site for the biomedical science facility, where the conflict between protesters and police occurred on Nov. 7, has given rise to protests targeting the construction of that building in particular.
Yet in the eyes of some Santa Cruz community members, protesting the construction of the biomedical science facility does a disservice to the efforts against the LRDP.
Anna de la Paz, a Santa Cruz resident for two and a half years, described how she saw students with signs which spoke out against biomedical sciences. She believes that this draws attention away from the real issue, which is the unchallenged expansion of the university.
De la Paz shared her feelings on the matter. “The [university] has always talked about expansion; it’s a little too late to be protesting.”