Occupation Was a Success for Students

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(Note: Paul Davalos also contributed to the writing of this this piece.)

First and foremost, our experiences are ours and ours only, we cannot speak for the other individuals that were inside with us but we will speak from our own experiences of that day.

For many, the events that transpired on Friday were inspired by the protests and marches that initially occurred on Sept. 24 and the incredible turn out of support and solidarity launched among students, workers and faculty.

The reasons for our participation in the occupation vary from one person to the next, but inside Wheeler Hall on Friday the communal effort of everyone involved was apparent from the start. As officers of an already established organization on campus, the Latino Sociology Association, we would like to state that our intentions were directed solely for the purpose of creating interest and unifying the students who shared opposing views towards the budget cuts, fee increases, staff layoffs and the numerous repercussions that we would be sustaining on our public education.

Various media sources who covered the protest have spun the truth of the actual events that occurred. Because of this, we feel it is urgent that we as students who were there step in to say what happened and what our final feelings were at the end of everything. Beyond the actual occupation, what happened Friday was more about the people below who stood in the cold, the rain, behind barricades and chanted along with us "Who's University? Our University!"

It was about the police brutality that occurred, the people that were harmed in the midst of supporting the strike and the heart and dedication of thousands of people outside Wheeler Hall. What we did serves as a catalyst to the beginning of the people's movement, we worked off the energy from other University of California campuses around the state and received support from groups across the globe.

The decline in the allocation of funds in the budget is shameful and deserving of reform at the state, the system and the university levels. For many, the privatization of college will mean the end of their higher learning and the end of public education as we know it. Furloughs, layoffs, cuts in funding, cuts in classes, underpaid staff, threatening of small business and cooperative housing are slowly filtering out underrepresented students who now feel like its is becoming exponentially difficult to attend institutions of higher learning designated specifically for the public.

Our attempts inside included a plea for a public discussion outside Wheeler that included ourselves, the students, faculty and administrators. Our hopes were to discuss our four demands that included firstly hiring back all 38 workers that were laid off recently from work on campus, renewing the Rochdale apartment contract with the university for $1 as had been done for many years, negotiating the rent increases for the Bear's Lair food court vendors who are at risk of closing and lastly amnesty for all forty three of us, including the three individuals who were arrested in the morning and charged with felonies for burglary.

Our attempts to keep all lines of communication open and public were met with a cold shoulder from faculty and staff. When asked if they could grant us at the very least 15 minutes to discuss their demands and concessions without having police continuously banging on all four entrances and people guarding their safety, we were met with more ultimatums and much negativity.

The fight against the police was one of unity-we began our mission as complete strangers, we stood our ground against police with out hearts and the force of our bodies pressed against the doors, our chants "Who's Univesity? Our University!" rang down the halls of the second floor every time the hinges shook and the doors cracked. The blisters on our hands worsened as the hours passed, but the screams that rung from outside Wheeler Hall kept our spirits high.

Amnesty was never a high priority, we all came in knowing fully that the end could bring our arrest, the negotiations that were done without us and behind the scenes with faculty and police were unknown until our release.

We thank those people involved with negotiations for their support, but at the same time we say no thank you.

In a situation of this kind and magnitude, consequences don't matter, actions do. And with this, we want to thank everyone who came out on Friday, our fellow comrades that put up a fight alongside us, and for all the heart that was displayed that glorious day.


Marilyn Monroy is co-chair of the Latino Sociology Association (LSA). Alec Rubio handles LSA community outreach. Reply to [email protected]

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