In 1968 Santa Cruz was a hot spot for the international civil rights movement.
In 2005, the U.S. Federal Government put UC Santa Cruz on the Pentagon’s “credible threat” list after anti-military recruitment protests on campus.
In 2007 a group of individuals clashed with police batons when they burst through a police barrier. The group exercised its freedom to assemble, protest and speak out, and met a violent end.
The large crowd that gathered near Science Hill to oppose the new Long Range Development Plan (LRDP) last year was silenced with tear gas and threats of arrest.
Even before the UCSC tree sitters made their way to the top of the redwood grove neighboring the physical science building, campus authorities and police were making efforts to silence the concerned voices of the LRDP’s adversaries.
Attempts to exercise the right to freedom of speech at UCSC are getting fewer and farther between.
Nov. 7 marked the one-year anniversary of the tree sitters’ ascent into the redwoods. The turn out was less than inspiring. Speakers representing both sides of the issue presented their cases to a small crowd.
One year later, a fraction of the LRDP’s adversaries made it to the site to show their support.
Implementing alternative means of protest was suggested by one of the guests, but he was not well received. Although the tree sitters don’t anticipate surrender any time soon, this individual proposed getting involved with the bureaucracy as a means of expressing opinions.
In 2020, UCSC will reach capacity. Twenty thousand students and 120 fewer undeveloped acres and trees on campus will change the face of this campus.
A significant portion of the acreage intended for development includes existing parking lots on campus. Hundreds of acres in upper campus will be preserved, but not everyone is willing to compromise when it comes to deforestation.
The tree sitters and their supporters have voiced concerns about the environmental impact of this project as well as the moral implications of building a biomedical facility. The trees in which the tree sitters reside are on a portion of land proposed for developing a biomedical facility.
Although UCSC Chancellor George Blumenthal and Mayor Ryan Coonerty were able to come to an accord regarding a solution for the projected water shortages that, many say, will be one of many consequences of the LRDP, opponents doubt the efficacy of these proposals.
In a matter as delicate as this, it is important to discuss the motivations of those who oppose the LRDP and those who endorse it.
In the process of developing the LRDP, campus officials spent three years drafting proposals and hosting public forums where students, faculty and community members could voice concerns.
Between 2003 and 2005 when the final draft was submitted to the UC Regents for approval, the administration did not make note of any opposition they may have encountered.
Students are not making themselves heard in the same way as they did in the days of the university’s conception.
Court orders state that the tree sitters’ actions are illegal. The tree sitters and many others say that the campus’s actions are immoral.
Whichever stance you take, keep in mind that an individual’s right to express opposition as well as support of an issue is protected by the Constitution.
Political demonstrations bring important issues to the attention of the majority. By exercising their freedom of speech, protesters pique the interests of the general public and create a forum for the discourse that is necessary to resolve conflict.
There are many sides to every story.