As many as ten thousand students, faculty, and staff of the University of California participated in public protests against the defunding of the university yesterday, and untold thousands more walked out of classes, held teach-ins, and walked picket lines. Students at two campuses occupied university buildings, and observers of the Berkeley rally said it was that school’s biggest protest in a generation.
This was big.
And it was even more impressive because yesterday was the first day of classes for the year at every UC campus except for Berkeley and Merced. At UC’s other eight universities, organizers brought hundreds, even thousands, of people into the streets and quads despite the lack of time and facilities for organizing in advance.
Yesterday, then, was just the beginning. UCLA protesters won a commitment from their chancellor to hold a public forum on the budget crisis on October 6, and they’re already organizing to keep the pressure up over the next twelve days. UC Santa Barbara has scheduled a series of teach-ins for October 11. In the coming weeks and months, activists will be building on what was achieved yesterday, growing the movement that will restore the University of California’s health, strength, and accessibility.
Over the course of this afternoon, I’ll be posting detailed reports on yesterday’s events at each of UC’s ten campuses — Berkeley, Davis, Irvine, Los Angeles (UCLA), Merced, Riverside, San Diego (UCSD), San Francisco (UCSF), Santa Barbara (UCSB), and Santa Cruz (UCSB). Check back in to get the whole story!
Five thousand was the official police estimate of the size of the crowd, and UC sources called it the largest Berkeley rally in decades. After two hours of speeches and chants, the protest went mobile, streaming off the campus and shutting down traffic for several blocks. A mass meeting later drew hundreds of participants, who voted to meet again next Wednesday to plan strategy for a possible statewide conference October 24.
A crowd that the UC Davis student newspaper said numbered in the thousands rallied on the campus quad, then staged an impromptu march to — and into — the Mrak administration building. Hundreds of sign-toting protesters occupied the public areas of the building briefly before, as grad student @AMYCHAMP put it on Twitter, deciding “to keep it peaceful, and take it outside.”
Morning and evening teach-ins bracketed the day at Irvine, where a crowd estimated at about five hundred attended the noon rally. One source said that 150 Irvine faculty walked out of their classes.
The noon rally at Bruin Plaza drew about seven hundred participants, and like those at Berkeley and Davis, it eventually turned into a march. Police blocked protesters when they arrived at the front entrance of Murphy Hall, the site of UCLA’s administrative offices, but a group of about sixty students were able to find alternate routes inside and make their way to the doors to the chancellor’s offices, where they staged a sit-in.
UCLA’s chancellor was not in the building at the time, but a campus official met with sit-in leaders and agreed to their two demands — that he set up a meeting with representatives of the university’s undergrads, grad students, faculty and staff, and that he schedule a town-hall campus forum on the budget crisis. The sit-in ended without any arrests or university judicial action.
Merced is the newest UC campus — it’s just four years old — and one of the smallest. Their rally was the smallest as well, but the walkout had significant participation, and students and faculty conducted flyering and tabling during the day as well.
Hundreds of students participated in the noon rally, with more attending teach-ins before and after.
Teach-ins were held on Wednesday and Thursday, and a two-hour rally drew hundreds of participants. At the end of the rally, some protesters marched into classes to urge students and faculty to join the walkout.
A campus-wide planning meeting for future organizing is scheduled for Wednesday.
Hundreds attended a rally at the UCSF Medical Center, where State Senator Leland Yee addressed the crowd. Students at San Francisco State and the City College of San Francisco also held demonstrations in support of the UC walkout.
There was a full day of walkout events at UCSB, where more than 125 faculty members signed the walkout pledge. Four hundred university community members attended the noon rally.
There will be a budget teach-in at Santa Barbara on October 14 from 3 pm to midnight.
Two rallies were held — one at noon and the second at 3:30 pm. The first drew hundreds of participants, and the second led to a building takeover that (as of Tuesday morning, five days after the walkout) is still ongoing. More on that in a new post soon.