After preventing entry into the Hahn Student Services building on the morning of Nov. 29, students found an open window. Around 3 p.m. they let themselves in, beginning a 21-hour-long occupation.
The Hahn occupation follows the November 2009 Kerr Hall occupation, where 35 students were initially charged $972 each for property damage and trespassing, and the March 2011 occupation, where around 30 students stayed the night outside the ethnic resource center.
Around 30 people stayed the night at Hahn, and 70 filled the building at its peak.
Comparing Hahn to previous actions, fifth-year Hayden Kreiling said Hahn felt more valid because of its part in the greater occupy movement.
“We have general assemblies,” Kreiling said. “We’re using not a consensus method but a highly democratic method. This is the method that has been taught at Zuccotti Park at Occupy Wall Street that has spread throughout the country.”
3When voting on decisions, the students borrowed from the larger movement’s voting practices, Kreiling said.
“I personally, as a white student, get privilege,” Kreiling said, “and one of the ways to check that is to give other people privileges that I would just be afforded … We have a students of color working group and we’ve talked about how that’s something we want to prioritize in our space … when you have a student that’s of color, you put them higher, because if the speakers list gets closed or you put it off, those voices won’t get heard. It’s something that happens in a lot of the Occupy movements around the country.”
After entering Hahn, the community agreements were one of the first topics voted on, said Mary Virginia Watson, graduate student and teaching assistant. The students agreed to not damage property, respect workers’ spaces and not use substances.
“Students were respectful of workers’ spaces, and at the same time able to accomplish civil disobedience,” Watson said.
Nora Hochman, representative of the Coalition of University Employees (CUE) Teamsters Union, which represents UC Santa Cruz clerical employees, said occupiers stood by their pledge to not disturb anything in the building.
University administration employed at the Hahn Student Services building were not forced to take paid leave and were reassigned elsewhere.
“Our union is very proud to be in coalition with those students,” Hochman said. “We are very appreciative on how they treated our workplace.”
In late afternoon, a few UCSC administrators asked to enter Hahn to close and remove sensitive documents. The occupiers voted to allow three administrators to enter with three escorts for 20 minutes.
As the three administrators entered Hahn, director of student judicial affairs Douglas Zuidema also tried to enter, but students forcibly blocked him.
Zuidema deferred comments to the student information office. Director of university relations Jim Burns could not be reached regarding this matter.
During the general assembly meeting at 7 p.m., the seated occupiers lined a corridor, and more spilled onto the outside balcony. The occupiers deliberated for 30 minutes before deciding to let the media to photograph them. KSBW Channel 8 cameraman tried filming the meeting, but students responded by trying to cover his camera with scarves and sweaters. The occupiers voted early on that no photographs be taken inside Hahn, only outside.
Third-year Adam White said students wouldn’t want their face in photos or video since media footage could be used to identify and cite students, as with the Kerr Hall occupation.
“We asked them several times not to film,” White said. “They were being very rude to the people outside … technically, they’re allowed to, but we were asking them not to.”
A KSBW Channel 8 representative said the students should know the media will come when 100 people are allegedly breaking into a building.
“We’re just out there trying to get their message out and they’re preventing that,” the representative said.
Fourth-year Chris Cuadrado said media coverage of the Hahn occupation differed from the media coverage of the Kerr Hall occupation.
“When the police came to raid [Kerr Hall], they made sure there was a media blackout by preventing news vans at the base of campus,” Cuadrado said. “All individuals with cameras outside were moved out of sight of where the students were barricading, so the police made it invisible.”
No police were present at Hahn throughout the night, and UCSC chief of police Nader Oweis said the police actions were not influenced by what happened at UC Berkeley, UC Davis or Kerr Hall.
“Our actions from the police department and the university itself [have] been to keep an open dialogue and really work with the students that are here, and to make sure everything remains peaceful and safe,” Oweis said.
Alison Galloway, campus provost and executive vice chancellor, and Oweis remained at Hahn for the majority of the occupation, leaving only at night.
Galloway wanted to keep dialogue open, and said it was best if she and Oweis were there, rather than use a system for relaying communication.
“It’s easier to take a direct approach so we understand what the situation is for the student protesters,” Galloway said. “It’s a philosophy both the police chief and I have. I think this is probably very similar to the approach we would’ve taken, no matter what.”
In a second general assembly at 9 a.m. Tuesday, Nov. 29, the occupiers voted to completely clear the building at 11:30 a.m. and gather at Quarry Plaza one hour later to declare their purpose for occupying the building and present a list of four demands. They demanded the disbanding of the UCPD, and instead the installation of a committee of students, faculty and staff that will assign community safety responsibilities to unarmed campus safety groups, place a greater emphasis on violence prevention and refund related resources, and establish a protocol for inviting “outside agencies … onto campus.” Also among the demands was a refusal to implement any fee hikes, layoffs or budget cuts to departments further than 2009 levels, and that no disciplinary actions be taken against protesting students and allies who occupied the building. They further demanded the list of demands be forwarded to all of the campus community via the UC Santa Cruz email server.
Additional reporting by Jacob Van Der Wilk and KellyAnn Kelso