By Lisa Donchak & Rachel Tennenbaum
Last Tuesday, Professor Michael Urban approached the redwood trees on Science Hill carrying a container of chicken salad: “Shall we have lunch?” he asked, addressing those within the trees.
The politics professor had come to bring them food, a policy the administration adamantly opposes.
Approximately 20 other UC Santa Cruz students gathered around the base of the still-inhabited redwood trees and anticipated Urban’s arrival for close to an hour.
Many were expecting arrests in the wake of Urban’s actions; administrators have repeatedly warned the community to avoid the site of the tree-sitters and to refrain from supplying them with food.
Along with chicken salad, Urban brought grapes and bread. “We’ll eat sparsely and symbolically at the moment,” he said, before attaching the plastic grocery bag of food to a rope the tree sitters lowered down from the branches, and their lunch disappeared into the trees.
When asked why he was supplying the protesters with food, Urban replied, “I’m interested in what they’re doing and I support it. We’re having lunch … I don’t want confrontation.”
One of the tree-sitters shouted down to the crowd at one point during the event, and asked, “Is there any security?”
When the crowd responded that there wasn’t, the tree-sitter responded, “That’s kinda scary … it’s so calm today.”
While no campus police or security officers were at the event, one campus security car arrived at the site as students began to disperse. The officer, who wished to remain anonymous, did not get out of his car. He said he was “just watching.”
Chris Jay was one of the first to arrive at the site that afternoon; he showed up over an hour before Urban. When asked about the lack of campus security, he said, “I’m not surprised. It makes sense … they know it’s bad press to arrest university students.”
A number of students had also watched the exchange, including two of Urban’s students, Kot Hordynski and Sam Aranke. They heard about Urban’s plan from one of his teaching assistants.
Aranke explained why she attended the event. “Essentially what the administration is trying to do is starve them out, which is possibly the most inhumane thing you can do.”
Despite disapproval from the administration, the tree sitters show no sign of vacating the trees anytime soon.
After their impromptu lunch ended, Hordybski said, “It’s probably a good idea to keep in mind that there’s something going on here, as much as the powers that be might want to sweep it under the rug.”