American Federation of Teachers’ Bob Samuels on the UC crisis

AFT President Bob Samuels offers his analysis of the situation at UC (the Regents just voted a 32% fee hike) on Democracy Now

Meanwhile, here are the latest dispatches I’m getting from various parties regarding the student occupation at Kerr Hall at UC Santa Cruz.

From a supporter:

Dear Colleagues,

Around 10 pm tonight Bob Meister and I went to Kerr Hall because one of his students had asked him to go. We both spoke briefly and encouragingly. There is very little police presence. The students are calm and in good spirits. I personally think it is a good thing they are doing this in this way –very positively– and I am really happy that the Administration has not overreacted. These students want the best for their education and for this campus, and they should be supported and when it is welcomed, guided. I spoke about solidarity between faculty, students, and unionized workers. Bob talked about tuition and fees and accountability.

Tomorrw they will have a rally at noon outside Kerr hall. I plan to go and will speak if asked. I urge you all to go to the rally and to speak if asked, but, at least, to find out who the students are and what they think they are up to.

My view is that our faculty and union efforts –our legal and political efforts — to demand accountability and responsibility from the Regents and UCOP and in different ways from our local administration will not be as effective as they will be when we are backed by a mass movement of students (and their families and networks). And I think that their efforts to occupy and protest and assert will be much less effective than they will be if they have the kinds of understandings and perspectives about the larger system, and about historical protests concerning labor and political rights, that the faculty and unionized staff can help make them aware of.

Hence I urge you to go to the rally, even if briefly, make contact with them, and get engaged in what is happening. I believe it is positive.

Cordially,
Shelly

From the administration:

November 20, 2009

To: UCSC Community
Fr: Campus Provost David Kliger
Re: Update on Kerr Hall protest

Last night, I described a protest that began Thursday afternoon at Kerr Hall. I want to provide an update.

As approximately 150 UCSC workers and I left the building yesterday afternoon, the group of students who had entered Kerr Hall presented me with a list of demands too numerous to describe here. In return, I made a simple request: that they leave exits unobstructed so that people inside could leave in the event of a fire or other emergency, and that they not enter certain areas of the building.

They initially agreed. And, based on those commitments, I agreed to speak again with them this morning.

We’ve now learned that those commitments have not been honored.

Exit doors allowing safe passage from Kerr Hall are obstructed. Some interior areas within the building have been broken into. Based on this, I’ve decided, for now, not to have another conversation with those remaining inside.

As of noon Friday, Kerr Hall remains closed. I understand that some students have left, in part because they were concerned about the actions of others. Those still inside are trespassing and subject to arrest and/or campus sanctions that may lead to suspension or expulsion.

Recent disruptions — including building occupations and actions that blocked access to our campus — have deprived all of us the freedom to enter and use classrooms, offices, and other spaces where we carry out our studies and our work.

We cherish the principle of free speech. Regrettably, these actions go well beyond that.

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