Campus Community Readies for Walkout

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POTS: Where will you be?

UC Berkeley students talk about where they anticipate they will be on September 24th, the day that the UC-wide walkout is scheduled.

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With only one day remaining until the systemwide UC faculty walkout and union strike, organizers are finalizing plans for what they say is only the beginning of upcoming efforts to reverse the impacts of state budget cuts to the 10-campus system.

Walkout activities will begin Wednesday with a teach-in featuring faculty speakers at 7 p.m. in Wheeler Auditorium. In addition, some faculty will conduct their own activities on Thursday, but a rally scheduled for noon on Upper Sproul Plaza will bring supporters together for one large event. The assembly is aimed at publicizing the impact of state budget cuts and the resolve of faculty, students and staff to continue efforts into the coming months. The Daily Californian will be providing real-time coverage of Wednesday's teach-in and Thursday's events.

"The main event will be on Sproul," said Ricardo Gomez, founder of Berkeley Students Against the Cuts and a walkout organizer. "It gives us the opportunity to see what we are made of."

Gomez said a student-led march around campus will commence at 3 p.m. on Thursday and that activists will return to Upper Sproul Plaza for a "general assembly" to discuss and decide the next steps for the movement.

In addition, approximately 150 UC Berkeley professors have already signed an online petition indicating their support for the walkout.

But according to Scott Saul, associate professor of English, walkout numbers may be boosted by junior faculty who choose not to sign a public letter in support of the walkout because they felt "structurally vulnerable," but will in fact cancel their classes.

"They have to think twice," he said. "A lot of people are walking out, but they may not sign a declaration to that effect."

Meanwhile, plans for a strike by the local chapter of the University Professional and Technical Employees union received a boost this week by the Coalition of University Employees.

The coalition has promised solidarity with the union and is currently seeking authorization to strike on Thursday from the state Public Employment Relations Board, said Amatullah Alaji-Sabrie, the chief negotiator for the Coalition of University Employees.

"We are encouraging our members to support the strike in any way they see fit," she said. "(But) we haven't officially notified the university at this point that we will be going on strike."

Leadership from the Berkeley Division of the Academic Senate indicated last week that the senate would neither endorse nor oppose the walkout, an attitude shared with the campus administration according to Senate Chair Christopher Kutz.

"We know that the campus administration sees matters in the same light," Kutz said in a Sept. 17 e-mail to faculty.

Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost George Breslauer indicated yesterday in a campuswide e-mail to students that the university would continue its ordinary business on Thursday.

"Our primary goal during strikes and other forms of work stoppages is to continue to fulfill the educational mission of the university," Breslauer said. "Classes will be held as originally scheduled, unless your instructor has informed you about an alternate arrangement."

But organizers said Tuesday that the extent of cuts to the university ensured a new collective spirit among faculty to reverse the policies of the state and university administrations.

"Historically there has not been that much collaborative action across departments and schools," Saul said. "But this crisis has brought together faculty. They know that the university mission is imperiled at this moment."

Check out live coverage of the teach-in starting Wednesday night at 7:30 p.m.


Zach E.J. Williams is the assistant university news editor. Contact him at [email protected]

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