Los Angeles, CA - Student protests continued across California, Nov. 20, in the wake of the heavily-protested decision of the University of California (UC) regents to raise undergraduate tuition by a staggering 32%.
Nov. 19, as the regents held their final day of meetings, thousands of students across the UC system protested the tuition hike, the furloughs of university workers and other effects of the budget cuts.
After the fee hike passed, outraged demonstrators (numbering between 1000-2000) formed a blockade of the meeting venue at UCLA to prevent the regents from leaving. They succeeded in detaining the regents for several hours before being forcibly dispersed by police.
On the other side of UCLA’s campus, students participated in a takeover of Campbell Hall which lasted until about 8:00 p.m. Nov.19. Demonstrators left voluntarily.
At UC-Davis, roughly 200 student protesters took over the campus administration building the morning of Nov. 19 and remained there until late in the evening. 52 were arrested by campus police.
At UC-Santa Cruz, where a number of building takeovers have happened in the last two months, students occupied two buildings - Kerr and Kresge Hall. Students stayed inside the buildings overnight and remained in control of both at the time of this writing [Nov. 20]. On the night of Nov. 20, they presented the campus administration with an extensive list of demands, which can be found here: http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2009/11/19/18629337.php
Today, Nov. 20, although the regents meeting is over, many protests have continued. At UC-Berkeley, several dozen students took over Wheeler Hall early this morning, and continue to hold the space despite the efforts of UC and Berkeley police in riot gear. When police tried to disperse the occupation, hundreds of students and workers gathered outside the building to defend it, clashing with the cops. At the time of this writing, the SWAT team has been called in and is attempting to take the doors off their hinges.
Berkeley protesters have also presented a list of demands. They are:
- Rehire all 38 AFSCME custodial workers who were laid off.
- Provide amnesty to all protesters/occupiers.
- Retain the current small-business occupants of the Berkeley food court instead of replacing them with chains.
- Preserve the Rochdale cooperative housing for students.
For a time it looked as though the administration was going to negotiate, but now it seems like they’ve chosen to use force.
Finally, there is a new occupation at UC-Davis as of today, at Dutton Hall. That's a total of six building takeovers across the UC system in the last 24 hours, four of which are still going on.
The UC regents might have successfully raised tuition, but in doing so it looks like they’ve awakened a ‘sleeping giant’ across the state. Again and again, students and workers across the UC campuses are saying that they won’t tolerate any more. If the UC administrators don’t change their current policies, they could be facing a system-wide revolt sooner than they think.
Charla Schlueter, of UCLA Students for a Democratic Society, said, “Students across California are turning to more militant tactics like civil disobedience and building occupation, because it’s clear the regents and the administrators aren’t interested in giving them the time of day. We’re going to see more resistance like this across the UC system and beyond it, until the rulers of the UC abandon their plan of privatization and stop the attacks on working-class and oppressed nationality students.”