Letter of Solidarity from Open UC Davis to Open UC Berkeley and UC Santa Cruz Occupation

Passed by the Third General Assembly at 1PM on November 26th 2014

Comrades from across California, this Tuesday, November 24th, we unanimously voted to stand in solidarity with your movements. To join in brother and sisterhood against the cruel oppression of a nonrepresentative, tyrannical Board of Regents. We continue our fight today, and although we will be going home on Thanksgiving, we will be back. We will be back with renewed vigor. We will be back with a timeline of action. We will be back and we will never leave so long as those who are forced to stoop their backs in labor during the day, only to stoop their necks in study during the night are not able to defend themselves against tuition hikes. We will occupy until those who were promised an affordable education will not need to drop out of school before graduating, with nothing to show but unsurmountable debt and a heavy heart. We will occupy until democracy is restored, until we choose who makes the decisions that affects us, until we are respected enough not to be used as pawns in a political gambit.

Berkeley and Santa Cruz. Thank you for leading the way. We respect you immensely, and will always be here in legal, emotional, and action based support. Keep fighting the good fight. We’ll be beside you doing the same until justice is restored.

Statement of Solidarity with Ferguson

To the people of Ferguson:

We are student protesters at the University of California, Berkeley who have been fighting the privatization of our university. Like you, we are enraged by the recent announcement that Officer Darren Wilson of the Ferguson Police Department will not be indicted for his murder of 18-year-old Michael Brown in August. We stand in solidarity with Michael’s family, as well as with all victims of police brutality.

We recognize that the privatization of our university is intimately connected with the criminalization of black and brown youth. The increasingly exclusionary nature of public education, made so by many factors including state disinvestment and tuition hikes, has only increased as more of America’s residents are locked up and thrown away, no longer able to attain an education or contribute to society. A majority of those thrown behind bars are young people of color.

The effects of this increased criminalization of Black and Brown youth is not just explicit. Numerous studies have shown that discrimination of any kind can severely damage an individual’s mental and physical health, further hindering his or her ability to achieve an education and enjoy “the pursuit of happiness.” At its most tragic, as in the case of Michael Brown, discrimination leads to brutal and unjust loss of lives.

The protests in Ferguson and around the country have sparked a flame that shows little sign of withering away. It has galvanized not only Missouri, but people around the world, as well as the students here at Berkeley. Your resistance and determination remind us that we must not back down! We must hold those in power accountable for their decisions, whether those are an unwillingness to seek justice or an intention to destroy public education.

Additionally, we strongly condemn the forceful police response against Ferguson protesters, and recognize that this repression is a daily occurrence for many communities of color. Many of us seek to demilitarize our own campus and local police, who are also guilty of such brutality.

To quote the powerful message sent to us by students and faculty at Cairo University: “We write in solidarity with you who were born into a world of fear, and yet have learned to light fires that cast fear away.”

We, also, stand in solidarity with you with fires against fear.

–Students from the UC Berkeley Wheeler Commons

Daily Cal: Hundreds of protesters take to streets, march against tuition hikes

Reposted from The Daily Cal

By Frances Fitzgerald and Jane Nho

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Hundreds of UC Berkeley students, faculty and community members marched through the city and campus Monday as part of a systemwide day of action, protesting the recent vote by the UC Board of Regents to pass a controversial tuition hike policy.

Beginning with a rally at noon at Sather Gate, student protesters walked out of their classes onto Sproul Plaza, picketing posters and chanting phrases such as “No cuts, no fees, education must be free.” The line of marchers spanned about three blocks, heading to Downtown Berkeley, and included more than 1,000 people at its peak, while UCPD stood by and stopped traffic.

“I’m excited to see so many people out here and mobilized and angry, because we should be,” said ASUC Senator Haley Broder toward the beginning of the demonstration. “We need to show we’re not complacent when the university is threatening us, because this university is meant for us and not for the regents.”

The walkout followed six days of students occupying Wheeler Hall, which began Wednesday evening after the vote by a regents committee to move forward with a policy that would increase tuition 5 percent per year for five years, contingent on state funding.

Although students have stayed in Wheeler Hall past its hours of operation, UCPD has not taken action to evict students from the building. Similarly, UCPD officers monitored the events of Monday’s day of action, following the crowd as they marched through Berkeley, according to Lt. Eric Tejada.

“We’ve just been observing,” Tejada said. “We’re going to let administration decide how they want to respond, and we’ll take our cues from them.”

Protesters continued past Shattuck Avenue onto Milvia Street, pausing in a field near Berkeley High School as more students spoke to the crowd, before looping back toward campus.

“The UC system is one of the last public education systems in the U.S.,” said UC Berkeley sophomore Dinshaw Avari. “In a sense, we’re fighting for the American dream. When the system becomes privatized and it doesn’t represent what the average American wants, then we are moving towards austerity.”

Students stopped in front of California Hall, where they chanted for administrators to come outside. Protesters declared that if administrators did not come outside by 3 p.m., they would march to the UC Office of the President in Oakland.

According to UC spokesperson Shelly Meron, the tuition plan is about maintaining the quality of the academic program and preserving access to the university. She said the revenue garnered from the plan would allow the university to enroll 5,000 more California students over the next five years.

“We hope that students understand that the real issue is how the state of California funds the university, and we welcome students’ voices and support in changing the current dynamic,” Meron said in an email.

At approximately 2:45 p.m., Chancellor Nicholas Dirks arrived at the protest, which had dwindled in size. Dirks said the administration agrees with students and wants education to be affordable, adding that students and the campus should work together to put pressure on the state.

In response, a student yelled that Dirks has political capital that he could use to influence Gov. Jerry Brown, which was met with cheers from the crowd. Students pressured him to definitively condemn the hikes, and when one person asked him if he would stand for the students, he responded that he stands for the institution, a comment which was met with displeasure from some of the protesters.

“We all care deeply about the whole university and that builds deep, but we also feel we’re caught between a rock in a hard place,” Dirks said in an interview with The Daily Californian. “The state doesn’t give us money, so what do we do? We have to find ways to maintain the great excellence.”

Dirks left the crowd at about 3 p.m., saying he would come back later. The protesters then voted on demands for the chancellor: that he issue a statement against the tuition hikes, be physically present at tuition protest events in the future, urge the university to release a fully transparent budget and demand that the pursuit of charges against Jeff Noven, a UC Berkeley student arrested at the Wednesday protest in San Francisco, be dropped. Dirks did not return before the crowd disbanded at about 4:30 p.m. Some students had plans to meet at 6 p.m. to protest in Oakland.

Students in the crowd decided to hold a meeting in Wheeler at 8 p.m. but agreed they would not create new decisions in respect for demonstrators who wished to attend the protest in Oakland against the Ferguson grand jury decision, which was at the same time.

“The UC’s supposed to be promoting free thought and expression,” said senior and former ASUC senator Destiny Iwuoma. “If the UC won’t do it, students will.”

Students said they intend to protest Dec. 2.

Contact Frances Fitzgerald and Jane Nho at newsdesk@dailycal.org.

Statement of Solidarity from the Board of the Free Speech Movement Archives

November 24, 2014

The Board of the Free Speech Movement Archives is in solidarity with
UC state-wide protests against increased tuition fees.  In raising
tuition, the Regents are in direct violation of the Master Plan for
Higher Education, the Donahoe Act, signed into law by Governor “Pat”
Brown on April 27, 1960.

This standing law guarantees that tuition at the UC campuses will
never be charged, in order to make higher education in the state
accessible to all people.  Whether the discriminatory charges are
called tuition or fees, they violate the guiding principle of the law:
that higher education ought to be available to all eligible California
high school graduates regardless of their economic means.

We also call on the Governor and the State Legislature to live up to
their responsibilities, as required by the CA Education Code, “to
ensure that resources are provided” to permit all eligible students
wishing to attend the University of California to do so, without
demanding reductions in the quality of the UC education offered to
them.

Signed,

The Board of Directors of the Free Speech Movement Archives

Lee Felsenstein, Gar Smith, Anita Medal, Bettina Aptheker, Susan
Druding, Barbara Garson, Jackie Goldberg, Lynne Hollander Savio, Jack
Radey, Barbara Stack, Robert Cohen

Phone Campaign: Join us in putting pressure on the State and the Regents!

WE ARE THE OPEN UC

in solidarity for affordable and accessible higher education

On Thursday, the UC Board of Regents voted to increase tuition by 5% each year over the next five years in response to the lack of state funding.

In 2008, tuition was $7,126 per year for in-state students, by 2014 it rose to $12,192, and by 2020 it is set to reach $15,560.

Public education is under attack. We can save it.

Please join us in calling President Janet Napolitano and Governor Jerry Brown in support of public education and against tuition hikes:

Governor Brown: (916) 445-2841

President Napolitano: (510) 987-9200

You can also join us at the Wheeler Commons to discuss the future of our university.

General Assembly meeting at 8PM, Wheeler Hall