The sixty-six hour occupation of Kerr Hall came to a peaceful end early Sunday morning at 8 a.m. Students provided the administration with a list of demands they wished to be met, including freezing all layoffs to campus employees. None of their demands were met. So far no arrests have been made.
The activists include protestors inside and outside building. The crowd outside numbered an estimated 80 people, including over 60 students and 15 faculty supporters. Faculty members wore signs taped across their chests with the message ‘Faculty Observer.’ At 6:55 a.m. they saw a swarm of UC police officers, and a couple Santa Cruz county Sheriffs in riot gear approach from the hill above the building.
One student inside said, “This is absolutely fucking beautiful.” The 70 students inside the building chanted “Solidarity forever, education makes us strong,” while sitting in the lobby, with their view obstructed by the refrigerator they had used to barricade the door. With batons and a dog unit on scene, police pushed back the main crowd outside.
A group of ten student supporters sat and blocked the main entrance, while another ten students circled in front of that group. Students yelled at police as the officers pulled them aside. The rest of the crowd, who had been confined to the outside stairwell, chanted with arms raised holding peace signs. Faculty members headed to the back of the crowd, and buffered students from direct police confrontation.
One faculty member, Mark Anderson, who is an assistant professor of anthropology, injured his back during the police ordered dispersal.
“Police reported one injury to a bystander who apparently fell as a crowd of onlookers on the Kerr plaza was dispersing at the request of police,” described the email sent out by Chancellor George Blumenthal and Campus Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor David Kliger to the UCSC community.
At 7:15 am, police officers not involved with holding off the crowd lined-up and some cast aside sleeping bags and food items of the supporters, the majority of whom had camped out the night prior. As the sign declaring ‘Raise Hell Not Cost” was torn down, the chants of solidarity grew louder and those inside and outside the building raised up their arms to one another.
One student, sitting on the floor with his arm raised to comrades on the outside declared his sentiments in the last moments before police gained access to the facility.
“Solidarity is forever and education makes us stronger,” Joe Benet said.*
The banging of the barricades being broken on the side of the building echoed through the corridors of Kerr Hall. The fire department, using a number of different tools, gained access through the north door of the building and entered to clear any obstructions from the hallway and doorway.
With the north doors opened, the firemen then worked on the main doors. They got through the locked door, C clamps and ropes. The officers gathered at the entrance, and at 7:50am, one officer approached with a megaphone.
Captain Augie Zigon, a peace officer of the University of California, addressed those who were seated in front of him and the student demonstrators fell silent. He asked the occupants to leave the facility, explaining the conditions of the situation. The address read:
“If you remain here, you are in violation of 602.1 of the California Penal Code. In the name of the University of California I am asking you to leave immediately. Please leave in an orderly manner now and no charges will follow. You have twelve minutes to leave. Remaining individuals will be arrested.”
Kliger and Blumenthal’s email addressed potential penalties, despite the statement made by Zigon at the scene.
“Students who participated in this incident face possible criminal and/or student judicial sanctions,” said the email.
About ten students accepted the proposal delivered by Zigon immediately. The remainder of the group decided to ask those on the outside. Those outside said that they should leave and not subject themselves to being arrested. The students cleared out of the facility. By 8:00 a.m., all of the students had vacated the premises.
As students flooded out the side doors, police officers lined the yellow tape surrounding the area and the occupants joined their supporters on the south side of the building and marched back to Kresge Town Hall where a smaller occupation is still taking place. Kresge Town Hall is serving as a space for organizing further student action.
“A mass student movement still needs to be built,” said Chris Connery, a literature professor. “We are still at the early stages of that.”
Students and administrators negotiated until late last night, discussing seven finalized demands pitched by the organizers. Present in the negotiations, which were held at a location on campus, were four students, two faculty members and approxiametly two administrators. The demands included amnesty for those arrested at previous protests, a commitment to keep resources centers like Engaging Eduacation and the Women’s Resource Center open, and a cap on the rent at Family Student Housing to keep it affordable.
None of the demands were met, but the final demand to guarantee funding for “graduate students who have lost TA-ships and undergraduates who have lost work-study positions” was considered.
“The administration responded to each of the seven demands with vague language, reformulating what they could grant us,” said Allen Smith,* a third year graduate student at UCSC. “They reformulated the seventh, saying that they could guarantee the jobs for the TA’s who had already been guaranteed jobs that had been reneged.”
The administrative response and decision on the seventh demand has not been confirmed by any administrators. Smith described negotiations reaching their end.
“They know what we want, we know what they can’t grant,” Smith said prior to police intervention. “We know this is going to end with them taking actions to stop this.”
Connery described how the administrative response has been constrained, especially taking into consideration the actions at the other UCs.
“Our administration has been fairly restrained,” Connery said. “[I’m] glad we haven’t seen the violence that UCLA and Berkeley have seen.”
Students at UC Berkeley, UC Davis, and UC Los Angeles have staged occupations as well. Twelve students from Berkeley and two students from Davis came to support the UCSC occupation. A few of those from Berkeley were among those arrested in Wheeler Hall, and one of those from Davis was among those arrested in Mrak Hall.
“There is something to be said about disrupting business as usual,” said Anne Kent,* one of the students who had been arrested in Berkeley and came to support the UCSC occupation. “It makes people confront the decisions that they are making.”
The facility endured damage over the course of the three days. One table was missing two legs, the fridge was tipped to barricade the doors and in the process the front doors were dented, a few walls had chipped paint and dents, and the door to the Chancellors area had been wedged open Friday.
“If you look at the building, it is disarming,” said Associate Vice Chancellor for Public Affairs and Communications, Barry Shiller. “It’s trashed. Not quite sure what that accomplished.”
One student commented on his view of the importance of this particular student action.
“The fight for public education, that can be our generation’s battle,” said Steve Hoffman.*“I’m proud to be among those fighting for public education.”
Here is the full list of demands written by the organizers to the administration:
1. Amnesty for individuals involved with currents and past student protest concerning budget cuts, including Brian Glasscock and Olivia Egan-Rudolph
2. Keep resource centers open under the management of individual directors: Engaging Education, Women’s Resource Center, Ethnic Resource Center, CANTU, etc.
3. Making UCSC a safe campus by protecting all undocumented students (AB540) and workers through non-cooperation with ICE.
4. Renege the 15% cut in labor time for UCSC custodians.
5. Prohibit rent in Family Student Housing from exceeding that of operating costs in order to keep it affordable.
6. Freeze on all layoffs to all campus employees.
7. Guaranteed funding through employment or free remissions for both graduate students who have lost TA-ships and undergraduates who have lost work-study positions.