To the editors and readers of City on a Hill Press,

I’m a member of the UCSC faculty who came here because of a belief in
publicly-funded education that provides both affordable access to all
qualified students and a rich learning environment for them, including
research opportunities.  I’ve cheered the efforts of students
lobbying, protesting, and voting to reverse the damage caused by state
budget cuts.  But I read the other day that some people are calling
for a so-called “hard strike” as part of the upcoming March 1 protest.
If I understand this right, that means they intend to physically
prevent others from entering the campus.  When I read this, my
solidarity with the protest and protestors vanished in a moment, and I
was heartsick.

I’m sure the majority of those proposing this tactic simply believe
that it’s good because it’s more dramatic and will get more attention.
Perhaps a few more cynical people see this as a way to try to prod a
disappointingly respectful and thoughtful administration into doing
something objectionable.  But whatever you think about this tactic —
I think it’s foolish for alienating people like me — the tactical
considerations obscure the main point: the rights of those not
participating in the protest.

Some staff and faculty going to work that day will agree with the
goals of the protestors, but feel they have an obligation to serve the
students with all their usual passion on this day as on others.  Some
students may have work to do that is critical to their education.
Some people may even disagree with the protestors.  The reason someone
may have to cross the line doesn’t matter.  That it’s “only one day”
doesn’t matter.  What should matter is that we are members of a
community built on mutual respect.  For one member to look another in
they eye and say “I have decided that you will not pass” is an act of
unspeakable arrogance and disregard of that person’s basic rights to
freedom of movement, action, and speech. In my eyes, anyone who tries to
do this has forfeited their right to belong to our community, in spirit
if not in law.  I hope a big, active crowd shows up for this protest, to
show Sacramento how important UC is to us.  And I hope a big, active
majority of that crowd will speak up for the rights and dignity of all
members of this community.  To everyone who will be out in protest on
March 1: don’t let anyone shame or bully you into participating in a
blockade of this campus.  The people whose rights you’d be violating may
not confront you, but we’re out there.

David Smith
Associate Professor, Physics