Whatever became of the infamous tree-sitters of Science Hill? Does anybody really know?
After more than a year of coverage on the tree-sit protest, we at City on a Hill Press are uncomfortably fuzzy on the details that led up to the sudden disappearance of sitters and trees alike, and we doubt we are alone.
The lack of communication from the administration, regarding a seemingly snap decision to demolish the trees in question and end the protest abruptly, is contemptible. What exactly was the final agreement that led to the ultimate chop-down of the redwoods, which the determined bunch of environmentalist demonstrators called home for over a year?
The little we do know about what finally ended the protest, is what we (along with anyone who regularly checks a CruzMail account) have gleaned from a series of blunt, mass e-mails that dotted December. The e-mails, addressed from “UCSC Public Affairs” to “UCSC Community,” provided no more than a brief and one-sided overview of the situation. They left little to no room for discussion. They did little to provide readers with details or specifics on the interactions between the protesters and the administration.
The first e-mail released a media statement on Dec. 2 that read: “University of California, Santa Cruz and the Science Hill Tree Sitters announced Tuesday that they are seeking a mediated resolution to the 13-month protest. Both parties are hoping to reach a voluntary peaceful end to the protest before winter break.”
The second e-mail, dated Dec. 10, informed the UCSC community that mediated talks had failed to resolve anything, and stated that the university’s agreement with the city, county and citizen groups over the Long Range Development Plan would continue with its plans to construct the biomedical sciences building.
The message read: “This is a state-funded building that is needed by programs such as molecular, cell, and developmental biology; our health sciences major; biomolecular engineering; and environmental toxicology.”
Next, the e-mail proceeded to announce that the LRDP would continue as planned and offered a link to further information on the university’s position regarding “issues raised by the protest.”
The final word the UCSC community received regarding the topic came on Dec. 13, just after winter break began. This e-mail stated that construction on the site would begin promptly, and that at least three of the four “illegally occupied” trees had since been vacated.
We would like to know what went on in the mysterious “failed talks” between the protesters and the administration. We would like to know what exactly was said and why the breadth of the protesters who were dedicated for so long descended from the trees and vanished from sight in the middle of the night of Dec. 12.
Students deserve the right to know exactly what is happening at their own university, especially regarding something as ongoing and deeply felt as the tree-sit on Science Hill. The lack of communication and clarification provided to the average UCSC student by the administration is not acceptable.
After many months of living in the redwoods, it is somewhat depressing to think that the protesters’ actions accomplished nothing more than to denote a brief and nondescript e-mail overview from Public Affairs. The student body should receive more than a shrugging note when it comes to events as impactful as the LRDP tree-sit protest. In the future, the university should have the decency to clue us in on the details.