Picketing, Teach-outs Mark Beginning of Oct. 7 Protests on Campus

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As students, faculty and staff participate in the national Oct. 7 Day of Action, demonstrations have not reflected those of last year so far, as numbers remain low and there has been no conflict between protesters and police.

To show support for the public education system, protesters have engaged in a combination of picketing and teach-outs and have also presented demands - including the democratization of the UC Regents, free public education and full funding for ethnic studies on the campus - to UC Berkeley Chancellor Robert Birgeneau at the entrance of California Hall.

A representative from Birgeneau's office came outside and accepted the demands after protesters read them aloud.

Student protesters Andrea Barrera, Marco Amaral, Juan Garcia, Natalia Chousou-Polydouri and Suzy Babb said they were "surprised" someone had come out to accept their demands and that they hope to receive a response and set up a meeting with the Chancellor to discuss the demands by 5 p.m. today.

"We are the shareholders of the school," Barrera said.

A group of about ten protesters began picketing at the entrance of Sproul Plaza around 7 a.m., representing an amalgamation of groups including students, members of the United Auto Workers union - which represents graduate students - and the Coalition of University Employees.

While chanting slogans such as "Lay off Yudof" through a megaphone and holding a banner reading "October 7th Walkout," protesters marched in a circle and held up signs reading "Honk for the Walkout" to cars driving on Bancroft Way. A few protesters also assembled near North Gate Hall on the north side of campus.

Protesters wore red armbands while marching and distributed them to passersby on their way to class.

"We're asking people to wear them in solidarity with us and our struggle for education," Babb said.

Teach-outs began on campus around 9 a.m. outside of California Hall, Dwinelle Hall and Sproul Hall, among others. Graduate Assembly President Philippe Marchand held a lecture titled "Knowing Your Fees."

"Money at the UC always seems to dwindle, so they thought the best way to compensate was by raising fees," he said. "They were wrong."

At around 9 a.m., professor Ignacio Chapela held his environmental science and policy management class outdoors at the reflecting pool near the northwest corner of Moffitt Library with about 30 students in attendance.

"We build up this mythology of promise," Chapela told his class. "We never show you the thousands of people who don't get the job."

Ashley Ferro-Murray, graduate student instructor of theater, dance and performance studies, held her class outside of California Hall and said she was excited to discuss education issues with her students.

"This is a continuation of the conversation started on Sept. 24," she said. "It's another opportunity to take the conversations to the streets that I've been talking about in class."

Ferro-Murray said because of reduced class sizes, she had to turn students away from her class at the beginning of the semester. She added that some of her students cannot graduate in four years because they cannot finish their required classes.

As the protesters read their demands, UCPD Chief Mitch Celaya said he was involved in a discussion with the administration about the day's progress. Celaya said he was "quite happy" about the day so far and hopes it continues in the same manner.

"My concern in priority is public safety and maintaining the peace," he said. "People hopefully won't infringe on others' rights."

Katie Nelson and Mary Susman of The Daily Californian contributed to this report.

Tags: SPROUL PLAZA, DWINELLE HALL, UNITED AUTO WORKERS, CALIFORNIA HALL, UCPD, ROBERT BIRGENEAU, UC BERKELEY, OCT. 7, COALITION OF UNIVERSITY EMPLOYEES, SPROUL HALL


Alisha Azevedo covers academics and administration. Contact her at [email protected]



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