Saturday, November 28, 2009

Tim Clark--Further Thoughts on the Wheeler Occupation (Nov. 27)

It would be good -- putting it mildly -- to move toward a situation in which the obvious political questions about the occupations could be discussed frankly. This won't be easy: obviously those taking real risks and suffering the real hardships associated with occupations have reason to be impatient with those casting doubt.

It's hard to avoid a discourse of blame and dismissal, even of people -- faculty, students, staff -- whose dedication to building an effective resistance over the past months seems unquestionable. The kind of treatment they received in, say, the Counterpunch article strikes me as glib (or worse). But it is time to move beyond name-calling.

Some of the questions we ought to be discussing are these. First, as with any form of political action, questions of tactical aim and effectiveness. Occupations demanding what? Addressed to whom, in the short run (beyond "the authorities," I mean)? Doing what -- hoping to achieve what -- with the all-too-likely "negotiation" and winding down that follow such actions in a day or so (or even sooner, in the case of the UCOP invasion)?

Second, just as urgent, questions about the occupations' strategic point. To what kind of wider movement are they addressed, precisely in and through their expected "defeat"? To a student movement? Or is the very idea of such a movement consigned to the dustbin of history? How do the occupations stand -- as spur or spark or spanner-in-the-works -- in relation to questions of the California economy and state financing of public education? For instance, how do the organizers see the occupations contributing to the building of a student fee strike in response to the 32% rise? This is one tactic being actively considered.

Such a strike would be directed straight at one main provocation among the present slew of attacks and attritions, have the possibility of gaining widespread support, and, if it succeeded, have real-world consequences. Or is this kind of strategy -- longer-term, involving a vast amount of painstaking organization, persuasion of the "moderate" student center, legal maneuvering, etc. etc. -- seen as hopeless and counter-productive? Are occupations MEANT to make such a channeling of energies harder? Certainly some of us suspect they do, or will.

Talking tactics naturally means talking about the real-world political and social situation. Contrary to myth, even in what was thought to be a pre-revolutionary situation in '68 -- I cite the '68 precedent reluctantly, and claim no special authority regarding it -- there was considerable difference of opinion among those sympathetic to or involved in the occupations about the tactic and its future. Was "territorialization" of the movement the way to go? What did it mean to occupy territories -- buildings, theaters, university blocks -- that in no sense were strongholds, or even significant outposts, of the actual productive or repressive apparatus? (Let's put heavy irony about Wheeler, the literary canon, and the economy aside.) When does a tactic become a shibboleth? Does occupation symbolically/literally "enclose" the student movement in its provided social space, and entrench its distance from other social actors?

I am not, by the way -- repeat not -- saying that the answers to all these questions were/are clear. But they were real questions, hotly debated, even in a time of escalating social breakdown and apparent threats to state power, when the possibility of student actions resonating with -- maybe spreading to -- the realm of production and consumption was... well, a possibility. They ought to be asked again, a fortiori, and debated differently, in our present paralyzed social and economic world. I go along with much of what The Necrosocial has to say about that dead landscape. But precisely because the wider terrain in California and beyond is one of funerary calm, the question arises: "One spark to set THIS plain alight?" Some of us doubt it.

None of this is meant for a moment to call into question the intensity and commitment of the occupiers, or to offer ANY kind of justification for what the university chose to do in response last Friday. It just seems to me urgent that "sides" within the current of opposition don't now freeze into mutual distrust and silence.

Best -- Tim

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

UCB Senate Statement on Wheeler Hall Protests

From: "Christopher Kutz, Academic Senate Chair- Berkeley Div"
Date: November 25, 2009 6:00:46 PM PST
To: "Emeriti, Academic Senate Faculty,
Subject: A Statement on the Wheeler Hall Protests

Dear Colleagues,
We, the Divisional Council of the Academic Senate, write to express our deep concern over the events of Friday, November 20, which took place in connection with protest activities inside and outside Wheeler Hall.  Scenes of violence and personal injury during these activities have been widely disseminated, raising serious and as yet unanswered questions about the campus's policies and protocols for accommodating demonstrations.  As faculty, we regard it as a fundamental duty to keep the members of our campus community safe.
We have already begun to address these questions with the campus administration and the UC Police Department.  We are heartened that both have committed themselves to a thorough and transparent review and investigation of the Wheeler events by the campus Police Review Board, with appropriate involvement by Senate members.  We also expect that this review will serve to inform new administrative polices directed toward strengthening our long-standing tradition at Berkeley of civil discourse, free speech, and peaceful demonstration, as befits any great university. 
We also take this opportunity to urge the campus administration to persevere in its efforts to open dialogue with the students involved in protest activities.  It is apparent to us that mistrust is bred and anger kindled by a lack of engagement.   While we insist that all members of the campus community respect each other's rights to learn, teach, and work, we recognize that the student activists have legitimate concerns that demand respectful treatment.  We also encourage the administration to continue seeking advice from members of our faculty who can play a mediating role with the protesting students.
Finally, we exhort the administration to provide the campus community with guidance concerning the limits of freedom of expression in the interest of public safety.  We urge our students, individually or through their organizations, to make sure that their important concerns about the challenges to our public mission are expressed with the aim of resolution, not confrontation.  We must all work together or we shall lose, by our discord, one of the finest institutions of higher education ever created.
The Divisional Council of the Berkeley Division of the Academic Senate:

Christopher Kutz (Law), Chair
Fiona Doyle (Materials Science and Engineering), Vice Chair
Daniel Melia (Rhetoric), Secretary
Ronald Cohen (Chemistry/Earth and Planetary Science)
John Ellwood (Public Policy)
Steven Goldsmith (English)
James Hunt (Civil and Environmental Engineering)
Steven Justice (English)
David Lieberman (Law)
Anthony Long (Classics)
Mary Ann Mason (Law/Social Welfare)
Ignacio Navarrete (Spanish and Portuguese)
Oliver O'Reilly (Mechanical Engineering)
Bernard Sadoulet (Physics)
Garrison Sposito (Environmental Science, Policy and Management)
Hei Sook Sul (Nutritional Sciences and Toxicology)

Please do not reply directly to this message.  Please direct comments to

Monday, November 23, 2009

UCB Faculty Letter to Chancellor Birgeneau on Police Use of Violence (Nov, 22)

November 22, 2009

Open Letter from Concerned Members of the Faculty to Chancellor Robert J. Birgeneau,

We, the undersigned faculty, are writing to voice our strenuous objection to the use of unwarranted violence by the police forces enlisted by the University of California at Berkeley to patrol the student demonstration outside of Wheeler Hall on Friday, November 20th. It is now abundantly clear that in addition to UC Police, there were squads from the City of Berkeley and Alameda County, and that some of these police forces acted with undue violence at various points during the day, most conspicuously at mid-day and then again in late afternoon when they used batons against students and a faculty member. In some cases this occurred to defenseless people who had already been pushed to the ground, among them several who sustained injuries to hands, heads, and stomachs, and were forced to seek urgent medical care. These abuses of police power were captured on video recordings and in photographs, corroborated by numerous witnesses. They have now been widely circulated on the web and throughout the national and international media. We will send you a composite of those websites and testimonies under separate cover.

These documents clearly show that the students were acting in a non-violent manner when their civil rights were abrogated by police harassment and assault. Such instances of unprovoked police brutality would be appalling and objectionable anywhere, but we find it most painful for these events to have taken place on the UC Berkeley campus, given the important tradition of protecting free speech that you, Chancellor Birgeneau, have only very recently defended. Hence we regard with dismay and astonishment your euphemistic reference to last Friday’s violence: “a few members of our campus community may have found themselves in conflict with law enforcement officers.” There is no doubt that our students and colleagues did find themselves subject to unwarranted and illegal police brutality. It is therefore incumbent on the Chancellor of UC Berkeley to condemn such actions unequivocally and to make sure that such actions are subject to comprehensive review and disciplinary action.

Accordingly, we the undersigned demand that the university assume full accountability for the actions of the police forces active on campus on Friday, November 20th. We call for the administration immediately to convene an impartial and comprehensive investigation of the abuse of police power that resulted, making broad use of available testimony on the part of victims and observers, including photographic images, video and personal narration of those at the scene in order to establish a clear record of the facts. We ask as well that you speak directly and honestly to the students about what has happened. They are entitled to know that the university does not condone acts of police violence such as these; as of this writing, they have received no word from the administration acknowledging accountability for such appalling actions. Indeed, the administration was markedly unreachable on Friday, when faculty were most pressed to take on a mediating role.

We ask that you widely publicize the current protocols governing police conduct at demonstrations, and ascertain whether protocol was followed or abrogated on Friday. The entire community is also surely entitled to know that clear steps will be taken to revise protocols regarding police conduct at student demonstrations--protocols that will be binding on any police force brought on campus. It should also make clear that disciplinary actions will be taken against police officers found guilty of assault. Finally we ask for a public statement reconfirming the University’s commitment to protect the rights of free expression and assembly for students on the Berkeley campus.

We want to underscore how important it is for the campus for you to convene an investigation and to take administrative responsibility for protecting the safety of students as well as their rights of assembly and expression. Friday’s failure to do so is a most painful public display of how far UC Berkeley has strayed from its historical responsibility as a national and international institution pledged to rights of free speech and assembly and to the ideals of social justice. It is surely difficult enough to see our reputation as an excellent and affordable university jeopardized through budget cuts and fee hikes. Must we see as well the dissolution of the ideal of protecting free speech for students for whom the very future of their education is at stake?


Elizabeth Abel, English
Alice Merner Agogino, Mechanical Engineering
Wali Ahmadi, Near Eastern Studies
Norma Alarcon, Ethnic Studies
Paul Ammon, Education
Albert Russell Ascoli, Italian
Paola Bacchetta, Gender and Women’s Studies
Jeanne Bamberger, Music and Urban Education
Patricia Baquedano-López, Graduate School of Education
Joi Barrios-Leblanc, South and Southeast Asian Studies
Brian Barsky, Computer Science
Lisa Bedolla, Education
Emilie Bergmann, Spanish and Portuguese
John Bishop, English
Déborah Blocker, French
Jean-Paul Bourdier, Architecture
Daniel Boyarin, Near Easteren Studies and Rhetoric
Gary Brechin, Geography (visitor)
Karl Britto, French and Comparative Literature
Natalie Brizuela. Spanish and Portuguese
Wendy Brown, Political Science
Michael Burawoy, Sociology
Judith Butler, Rhetoric and Comparative Literature
Brandi Wilkins Catanese, Theatre, Dance, and Performance Studies
Pheng Cheah, Rhetoric
Timothy Clark, History of Art
Catherine Cole, Theatre, Dance and Performance Studies
Vasudha Dalmia, South and Southeast Studies
Ivonne del Valle, Spanish and Portuguese
Prachi Delpande, History
Clelia Donovan, Spanish and Portuguese
Beshara Doumani, History
Robert Dudley, Integrative Biology
Laurent El Ghaoui, Engineering
Peter Evans, Sociology
Jerry Feldman, EECS
Keith Feldman, Ethnic Studies
Mariane Ferme, Anthropology
Louise Fortmann, Environmental Science
Anne-Lise Francois
Mia Fuller, Italian
Peter Glazer, Theatre, Dance, and Performance Studies
Evelyn Nakano Glenn, Ethnic Studies, Gender and Women’s Studies
Deniz Gokturk, German
Steven Goldsmith, English
Ramón Grosfoguel, Ethnic Studies
Suzanne Guerlac, French
Andrew Paul Gutierrez, Ecosystem Science
Angela Harris, Boalt School of Law
Gillian Hart, Geography
Cori Hayden, Anthropology
Tyrone Hayes, Integrative Biology
Lyn Hejinian, English
David Henkin, History
Charles Hirschkind, Anthropology
John Hurst, Graduate School of Education
Michael Iarocci, Spanish and Portuguese
Toni Johnston, Education
Andrew Jones, East Asian Languages and Culture
Alan Karras, IAS
Elaine Kim, Ethnic Studies
Patrick Kirsch, Anthropology and Integrative Biology
Georgia Kleege, English
Jake Kosek, Geography
Claire Kramsch, German
Chana Kronfeld, Near Eastern and Comparative Literature
George Lakoff, Linguistics
Katherine Lee, College Writing
Gregory Levine, History of Art
Michael Lucey, French and Comparative Literature
Colleen Lye, English
Richard Norgaard, Energy and Resources
Saba Mahmood, Anthropology
Francine Masiello, Spanish and Comparative Literature
Susan Maslan, French
Jennifer Miller, English
Minoo Moallem, Gender and Women’s Studies
Davitt Moroney, Music
Carlos Muos, Ethnic Studies
Ramona Naddaff, Rhetoric
Rasmus Nielsen, Integrative Biology
Dan O’Neill, East Asian Languages and Literatures
Abena Dore Osseo-Asare, History
Stefania Pandolfo, Anthropology
Nancy Peluso, Environmental Science
Della Peretti, Education
Daniel Perlstein, Graduate School of Education
Kevin Padian, Integrative Biology
Kent Puckett, English
Robert Rhew, Geography
Juana María Rodriguez, Gender and Women’s Studies
Christine Rosen, Haas School of Business
Ananya Roy, City and Regional Planning
Jeff Salbin, Boalt School of Law
Elisa Salasin, Education
Debarati Sanyal, French
Scott Saul, English
Peter Sahlins, History
Nancy Scheper-Hughes, Anthropology
Sue Schweik, English
Ingrid Seyer-Ochi, Education
Katherine Sherwood, Art Practice
Kaja Silverman, Rhetoric and Film Studies
Jeffrey Skoller, Film Studies
Richard Candida Smith, History
Sandra Smith, Sociology
Katherine Snyder, College Writing
Janet Sorensen, English
Ann Smock, French
Shannon Steen, Theatre, Dance, and Performance Studies
Alan Tansman, East Asian Languages
Estelle Tarica, Spanish and Portuguese
Barrie Thorne, Sociology, Gender and Women’s Studies
Sylvia Tiwon, South and Southeast Asian Studies
Soraya Tlatli, French
Linda Tredway, Education
Trinh Minh-Ha, Rhetoric, Gender and Women’s Studies
David Tse, EECS
Susan Ubbelohde, Architecture
Paula Varsano, East Asian Languages
Leti Volpp, Boalt School of Law
Sophie Volpp, Comparative Literature
Anne Wagner, History of Art
L. Ling-Chi Wang, Ethnic Studies
Michael Watts, Geography
Leon Wofsy, Molecular and Cell Biology
Alexei Yurchak, Anthropology

Letters to UC Berkeley Chancellor about the Protests and the Police

UC Berkeley Geography Grad's Depository - An Open Letter to Chancellor Robert J. Birgeneau, University of California Berkeley

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Student Eyewitness Accounts of UC Protests

From Los Angeles

Thursday November 19, 2009
Approximately 2:30pm – 5:30pm
University of California, Los Angeles
Covel Commons Parking Garage

From Los Angeles

At approximately 2pm on Thursday November 19, I joined a group of students moving from the protest rally in the courtyard of Covel Commons (which convened at noon), to peacefully protest the decision of the UC Regents by blocking the parking garage exits around the back. I was incredibly impressed by how organized the students were, as we were lead by a few student leaders with a megaphone who dispersed us to the various exits and instructed us to gather at the exit and to remain sitting at all times, in order to prevent any misunderstandings about that fact that this was a peaceful protest. I sat with these students singing protest songs and chanting for about an hour and a half, while many police officers formed a line behind a barricade at the exit behind us. At no point did the protestors get violent or aggressive, nor did the size of the crowd seem unmanageable. The student leaders with the megaphone continued to direct the protestors to stay seated and to show that this was a peaceful protest. As the police officers continued to line up behind us, the student leaders began announcing to the protestors that the police were not our enemies but our “brothers,” and not to direct any aggression towards them.

After about one hour, we had received a report from a number of students coming down the hill that that police officers were using pepper spray on another group of protestors up the hill from us (at the other garage exit), and that they were threatening to arrest us. At this point a significant group of students quickly stood up and left out of fear of being physically harmed or arrested, while a number of other students took their places. At this point, the student leaders with the megaphone announced that if the police began arresting us, we would first be given a warning at which point we had the option to leave, and that if we were told that we were under arrest, we were not to resist, but to calmly place both wrists in front of us. This announcement was made at least twice, emphasizing not to resist arrest, but to calmly place our wrists in front of us. One other student announced that if we were arrested, they would probably let us off that same day, but they could not guarantee anything.

After sitting a bit longer at this exit, I got up to get some water and join some friends in the courtyard at Covel Commons. When I arrived at the courtyard there was a large group of students surrounding a van and gathered in the courtyard, all standing peacefully, many chanting, many having conversations with each other. I was told by one of my friends that they had just been pepper sprayed a few minutes earlier. After going into the store in the courtyard to purchase some water, I came out to witness a female regent being escorted by police officers from the van into the building. While the protestors gathered around and followed the police officers and regent, chanting “shame on you” and other such chants. As the police quickly escorted the woman into the building, the protestors did not display any violent or threatening behavior, with the exception of one apple core I witnessed being thrown by someone in the crowd towards the police officers (but did not hit anyone).

After remaining in the courtyard for a while longer, I returned to the parking garage exit where I was initially sitting earlier and stood across from those sitting at the exit on the lawn (just a few feet away from the parking garage exit) behind a set of barricades. My friends (fellow graduate students) and I stood there for a long time (until approximately 4:30 pm) with our placards, and chanted with the students still sitting peacefully at the garage exit. Just as when I had left that area, all the protestors remained seated, displaying dissent by singing and chanting, while maintaining a peaceful atmosphere. After some time, however, I heard a number of taser guns being turned on, and saw the line of police officers advancing towards the student who were seated. I heard a student next to me say that the police were now threatening to use rubber bullets if the students did not move. Suddenly, many of the students in the exit stood up as I heard screaming and panicked yelling. I heard a number of students scream that the students were being tased. I heard the buzz of the taser guns, and I witnessed one student getting tased through the panicked crowd of students. The student I saw being tased was closest to the line of police officers and was sitting down when he began being tased, I saw that he was wearing an orange shirt and his arms were flailing as he was lying on the ground. I also witnessed a female police officer kick a male student in his side as he was seated. At no point did I see any students act violently or give cause for such an aggressive response, these students were being attacked by police officers as they were sitting down because they would not move. The scene was truly horrifying, and I was in complete shock at what I was seeing. I heard many of the students pleading with the officers to stop, yelling that this was a peaceful protest, and chanting, “We are students, Not enemies!” I saw many of the students crying and holding each other, many were my own students that I had had in previous classes that I taught. I remember hearing one of my own former female students yelling, “Can’t you understand, all we want is an education, put away your weapons!!” As the police officers pushed forward to clear the exit of the garage, they maintained their line facing the gathering of students who were now all standing up. I joined the protestors facing the line of police officers, as we chanted “We are students, not criminals!” and “We live here, you go home!” Many of the students moved nearby to the sidewalk of the road with their signs, as cars honked in support of the demonstration. At this point there seemed to be more police officers than students. The police officers continued to advance forward, pushing the protestors backwards down the hill. I witnessed one female student fall to the floor from the force of the police officers advancing, prompting students to yell back at the police to stop the pushing. As it began getting dark, I finally left the scene to go home, while many students remained there and continued to chant. The line of police officers also remained there and continued to advance down the hill, pushing the protestors, even though the garage exit was no longer blocked and all the regents had left.

From Los Angeles

On my way back from the protest, a bit before 3pm, I was walking down the road at the same moment that the UC regents' vans emerged from the underground parking lot under Covel Commons. A few students shouted, There are the regents! and a number of us (perhaps fifteen, there weren't many people there at that moment) began to shout, Shame on you! at the regents in the vans. There were students sitting peacefully in the middle of the road, and some police approached them and moved some of them out of the way at the same time, I believe, that the vans moved around them, because I had been standing behind the vans, and I remember the vans were not stuck there very long. After the vans drove down the road, the police were trying to move more people, a student called for everyone to sit, and then the next thing I know is I hear this clicking sound over and over again right in front of me, and I see that there are police officers standing over students, a bunch of students are screaming, and the clicking goes on. I hear a girl scream, He can't stand up, and the police officer say, Get up. I see a guy (the young black man from the photos) trying to stand up, a number of other people are helping him up, he is shaky and his legs are clearly weak because he has to lean on other students to get up. There is also a small Asian girl who is sobbing, and a student screams, This girl was tasered and this guy was tasered too! and a bunch of students standing around are shocked, upset, a couple people are crying, and the police begin retreating backwards, still facing the students, up the hill. Then a student jumps in the middle of the road and begins screaming some kind of chant, and a bunch of other people, angry, respond.

The young black student who was tased from the images was holding his right hand over his heart and sobbing, and then holding the Asian girl who was also crying. The guy seemed very shaky, and I went over to them and asked the guy (I believe his name, from the caption of those photos, is Rusty/Rustin O'Neill) where he had been tasered, and he said a bunch of times, maybe four or five times or more, over his heart, which still hurt. A CNN article mentions a training bulletin from the taser company that explicitly states that tasing on the chest is prohibited, and officers who do it will be in risk of a lawsuit, given the danger of doing such a thing and on the grounds of excessive force. I looked at the girl's arms and they were all red and there were almost welts rising from the officer's manhandling of her. She said she received one taser shock on her left arm, around the elbow crook. The friend I was standing with had videotaped the whole thing on his camera and gave the two of them his information, and I suggested they both go to the hospital. Shortly after this, a police car drove up the road, and, seeing the bunch of students in the road, put on his lights and said, over the intercom, to get out of the road. At this point however, students were so irate and so shocked by the brutality they just witnessed that there was a kind of reckless tension in the air-- they sat down and shouted at the police car in anger. The police car retreated down the road the way it had arrived.

From Berkeley


I understand that you are each undertaking reviews of the police action on UC Berkeley's campus on Friday. I write to you as a witness. At around 1:30 pm on Friday, I was among the students at the Southwest corner of Wheeler Hall. The police (including Ryobi, Wong, and Parnelle of UCPD and Jackson of Berkeley PD) engaged us in a tense standoff.

Officer Jackson introduced himself and shook hands with the student next to me. He said that we should all get to know each other "in case we have to get intimate later." At the point he smiled menacingly and tapped his baton.

The police told us to move backward. They did not say that we were illegally assembled. They merely said, "Move." We refused to move. All present were non-violent. I very consciously kept my hands down at my sides, even as the officers I named above approached us with their batons ready.

They began to jab at us and then to strike us with their batons. We did not fight them. We moved neither toward them nor away. To my right was a student being brutally beaten by officer Parnelle. To my left, a student beaten by officer Jackson. Officer Wong repeatedly struck me with his baton. Another officer, whose name I did not catch, grabbed the others by their collars and pulled them away from us.

We did not follow them nor strike out at them. We clearly posed them no threat.

Thank you very much for your work in both of your investigations. I will be filing a complaint with UCPD against Officer Wong. If there is anything else I can do to aid your investigations, please let me know.

From Berkeley

My name is Tony Bezsylko. I am a graduate student in the Department of Philosophy at UC Berkeley, a member of UAW Local 2865 and a member of the Graduate Student Organizing Committee.

I have been involved in the political actions on campus this term, including Friday's action. My reasons for being involved in these actions all have to do with my concern for public education, and my reasons for directing these actions towards UC administration have to do with the fact that the administration is not aligning themselves strongly enough with interests of public education. The short of it is that we, and I think that I safely speak for all of us, want you and the rest of UC administration helping us to organize a movement to save public education. We want you at the rallies, we want you on the picket lines, we want you walking with us at the marches. I, however, do not write to you now about these matters. I write to you now to tell you about the nature of the police's response, as well as your response, to Friday's action.

On Friday I was a victim of and a witness to countless acts of police brutality. Those of us outside of Wheeler Hall were upset, but we were completely committed to a peaceful protest (saying so much explicitly in our chants and implicitly by sitting down on the line). The police, and you, were completely oblivious to the commitment of everyone involved, including those inside Wheeler, to a peaceful action. The occupation, though indeed aggressive, was an act of civil, nonviolent disobedience.

Now I understand that it was a chaotic situation, and I understand that the police involved were nervous and frightened. But their actions were grossly disproportionate in degree of aggression compared to that of our actions.

The worst incident I experienced was on the southeast side of Wheeler Hall. We were holding our line, locked in arms, in some places a few people deep. There were extremely thin parts of our line where police could have stepped through very easily by gently moving us aside. They chose not to do this. They chose to barrel their way through one of the thicker parts of the line using batons against stationary, unarmed students. Once this happened there was panic everywhere. I, and everyone around me, was all of a sudden being struck in the back and being attacked from the front by police. I saw one protester on the ground beaten by two police officers. Some folks standing right next to him pulled him up so he could run away before sustaining any more injuries.

I could go on for many paragraphs detailing what I saw and what trusted friends told me they saw. If you have not seen the video footage of some of these incidents, I encourage you to watch it. These actions by the police in response to a peaceful protest were extremely ugly. And not only was your approval of these actions equally ugly, so was your post-protest statement that the "wheeler hall protest ended peacefully" and that "a few members of our campus community may have found themselves in conflict with law enforcement officers." We are very grateful that all of the occupiers were not hurt, but it is a straightforward lie to say that the day's action ended peacefully. My account in the paragraph above shows this much. That account also refutes the second quote from your email. It was not a "a few members of our campus community" who were physically harmed. It was quite likely somewhere around 100 members of our campus community who were physically harmed by police, and, really, by you and your decisions about how to handle the situation. Lastly, my account also refutes your characterization of what happened as finding oneself "in conflict with law enforcement officers." Conflict can of course mean any number of things. The kind of conflict that was taking place was violent conflict involving physical harm.

I demand that you immediately issue a new statement about these extremely important issues. Trying to brush them under the rug as you are doing is not going to do anything but deepen the rift between UC administration and the rest of the university, including faculty, graduate students, undergraduate students, and staff. Acknowledgment is the first step to dealing with every conflict. This is something that you have failed to pay attention to in both your dealings with Friday's action as well as with the current crisis in public education.

Tony Bezsylko

From Berkeley

I am writing in regards to my experience Friday November 20th as a student observer outside Wheeler Hall. I was horrified as I watched the police using excessive force on students. One particular incident I observed at very close proximity occurred on the East side of Wheeler Hall around 5:00 pm.

I had been present since about 11:00 am on the West side of the building-standing along with fellow graduate students and many undergraduates who I teach as a Graduate Student Instructor. I did not observe any acts of student aggression- we spent many hours standing, chanting and signing, keeping each other dry from the rain, and sharing food and coffee.

Around 5:00 I moved locations to the east side of Wheeler. I soon learned that a colleague in my doctoral program had been knocked to the ground and dragged by an officer, completely unprovoked. I stood next to her listening to the story when officers in riot gear began to head towards us. Although there were many open areas for the new police shift to enter, they chose to enter directly through the crowd of students. Without any warning or explanation, a group of police dressed in full riot gear, flaunting batons and rubber bullet guns, headed straight at where I was standing. Things became a violent blur as I heard students screaming and I saw the student next to me hit by an officer with a baton. I ran from the scene as soon as I could get out, terrified that my friends had been attacked or hurt. Soon after, I left campus, literally shaking from anxiety. It was one of the most violet moments of my life.

As a student and graduate student teacher I was deeply concerned for the safety of those around me- as the police presence only heightened any threat to student safety on campus and by no means provided protection or peace for us. I truly hope that the university administration takes these unprovoked acts of violence performed on students by officers seriously, and respond differently in the future to non-violent demonstrations on campus. Thank you for your time and attention.

From Berkeley

I am a third year student at UCB, and I was actively present in the solidarity protests around Wheeler Hall on Friday. I spent most of my time predominantly on the North East side of Wheeler. I witnessed and was the victim of the excessive use of force by both UCPD and Berkeley PD. At about 5 o¹clock I was in the front row of a large mass of arm-linked students standing in solidarity with the occupation. The cops repeatedly looked at me and other students and warned us not to move forward otherwise we would be beaten by the batons. So we did not move. Regardless however, a little later on the cops did choose to beat in the process of putting up another barricade between us and public space. They started to hit students. Since I was in the front, I took a huge brunt of the blows- to my arms, ribs, belly, and hands. I was pushed to the ground as students were falling on top of me. I covered my head. Cops were continuing to hit students over me. They would not stop. Eventually a student managed to help pull me up at which time I retreated a bit and let other students move forward. The hitting continued. I also witnessed another injury occur earlier on while blocking a truck bringing barricades to the NE side of Wheeler. Students linked arms around the truck. A cop tried to break through the arms of two people. A girl started screaming that the cop was crushing her fingers or hand. In the same confrontation, about 7 cops broke through solidarity lines outside the yellow caution lines and dragged some students into the 똠op¹ area and started to beat them while they were on the ground defenseless. What I witnessed on Friday was nonviolent students standing in solidarity (on supposedly public space) and in turn being abused and violated by cops from both UCPD and Berkeley PD. This certainly was not the appropriate application of force as the students were always non-violent. Claims that cops and barricades were necessary to control the crowd and discourage violence are inadequate and do not fully acknowledge the Manichean violence upon students taken by the police forces. This is unacceptable, and should be publicly acknowledged and interrogated and exposed for what they really were.

UC-AFT President Bob Samuels: Statement on UC Protests

I want to congratulate all the unions, workers, and students pulling off a great protest under difficult conditions. We had over 2,000 protesters at UCLA, and there were some great actions. Here are a few highlights:

Hundreds of people stopped traffic at one of the main intersections in L.A. and then marched up through the campus.

Over a thousand people participated in a boisterous rally outside the regents meeting (the rally got international coverage). Even though the police tasered and hit several students and workers, we kept coming back for more.

A very surreal moment happened during the public comments period. After extending their bathroom break for an additional thirty minutes, the regents cut off public comments, while several people were still waiting to speak. This is after months of planning and negotiating, and several hours of waiting patiently. When our group at the meeting started to yell, "Let them Speak," not only did the regents declare their own meeting an "unlawful assembly," but they brought up police with guns into their own meeting to arrest the people who wanted to speak.

Another surreal moment occurred earlier on when several of us had to listen to the regents congratulate each other about how great they are and what a great historic day this was because they were agreeing to fund a new hospital project. The self-praising lasted several minutes, but when a mother of two students was later addressing the regents, not only were they not paying attention to her, but they cut her off, while she was delivering a heartbreaking story.

After the vote on the fee increases, the students surrounded the building and locked arms refusing to let the regents leave the building. A tense stand off lasted for several hours, and hundreds of students and workers joined the human chain. On the other side of the building, people were sitting and lying on the ground to prevent anyone from driving out of the building. When they finally brought Yudof out, they had to taser students in order to clear a way. What message does this send, when you have to use weapons on your own students?

While most of the police did a good job, there were a couple who acted badly, and they should be investigated and disciplined. We will consider asking for a formal investigation into the conduct of the police. The main problem is that some of them took a very hostile stance by sticking guns in students' and workers' faces without any provocation.
There are videos on the web showing how the police tasered and beat several students, and this information will not be ignored.

Another group of students occupied a building for a day, and then left peacefully, and hundreds of students participated in a flash mob by pretending to die outside of the regents meeting (this event made for some powerful photos).

We also had an all night camp out and dance party on Wed. night, which highlighted the building of a growing movement.

I did several radio and television interviews, and the press were very surprised to learn how the UC treats its workers. I think this was a historic event for our coalition, but this is not the end: it is only the beginning.

Here are some of the interviews:
Bob Samuels on Democracy Now! (Go to minute 15)


John and Ken (Right-Wing):


Shift in UCOF on Distance Learning?

by Anonymous

I've been quite worried about the Edley presence on the instructional committee and I thought I'd report something I consider to be rather encouraging news on a couple of fronts.  First, those on that committee have only in the last two weeks gotten any input from people who know anything about IT, which means that they're just spinning their wheels because nobody actually understands a thing about the system.  Second, they are now learning that in order to implement these grand money-making schemes of on-line teaching and Edley's fantasy of on-line degrees, they will need to invest mega mega bucks into a system that is so disparate and dysfunctional that it will simply be impossible.  Consider the fact that UCLA alone has over 16 instructional management systems in place right now; the ten campuses have absolutely no means of communicating with each other in those terms.  There simply is no infrastructure or common system to support the kinds of technological fantasies that Edley is proposing.  The cost in creating them is absolutely prohibitive.  And their concept of on-line teaching is frankly laughable.  They seem to think that you can record a prof lecturing on any given subject, package it up and rent it out for a price.  This is such an impoverished notion of instructional management that they would be completely dated before the starting gates are opened.

I am glad to see that resolutions have been passed, and I don't mean to suggest that there are no worries.  On the contrary!  But the more discussions I've been party to about the Gould Commission and various members on it, the more I realize that we may finally have the UC bureaucracy to thank for its absolute inefficiency.  There seems to be a consensus building among those who have been closer to the commission "planners:"  the people doing this are so completely disorganized and uninformed that they will have a very tough time getting this stuff off the ground.  Between that and what I hope is just raw fear, it seems that the Regents and their lackeys will be having a tough time pushing anything through the system in a timely fashion (because the system isn't designed that way and never has worked that way).  The sooner they want to get this stuff done, the longer it will take them.  Various indicators have signaled that they actually have no idea how the system works (one of the reasons they are so completely clueless).  There's no revamping a system if you don't understand what point it's starting from.

As I said, I think we should all be on red alert, but for what it's worth, these more skeptical views of the efficacy of the commission's future on the future have been surfacing and resurfacing more and more frequently.  I don't think these are smoke screens for more nefarious plots -- I think that the UCOP suits are so confident in their own power that they are sure they can wave the wand and be done with it.  They're not in the AIG board room anymore -- and those students gathered outside the building aren't interested in making coffee.

Eyewitness Description of UCLA Protests (UC-AFT Pres Bob Samuels)

UCLA made an official press release on Wed. stating that no one was tasered. They later retracted their release and said two students were tasered. Most of the students were tasered on Thurs. I know that at least one person was tasered while lying on the ground outside of the parking garage. New reports said that several people were tasered when they were escorting Yudof out. I believe there is video evidence of this.

I also have to say that what I saw on Wed, while I was negotiating with the police about allowing students back into public comments, a police officer went out of his way to intimidate and baton an African American student. If you look at the video and photo evidence, almost all of the examples of excessive policing involve students of color. This looks really bad. Also, remember that UCLA has already had a problem about tasering a student in the library.

One other personal account. I was inside the regents meeting and did a public comment. We had worked for weeks on arranging the speakers and clearing them with the regents secretary. However since the regents took an extra thirty minutes for their bathroom break, they cut off public comments before the people who were announced to speak could speak. The students and workers started to shout "let them speak." Someone announced that the meeting is now an unlawful assembly. I went to the hall to call people outside, and I was passed by police with their rifles held out in a very menacing fashion. They then arrested several students and workers. This was thurs morning.

Community College Chancellor on Coping with Cuts

 Dr. Jack Scott, Chancellor
California Community College
Community College League of California Conference
San Francisco, California
November 19, 2009
Living in Difficult Times
           Scott Peck begins his well-known book, The Road Less Traveled, with these arresting words: 
Life is difficult.  This is a great truth, one of the greatest truths.  It is a great truth because once we truly see this truth, we transcend it. . .  Because once it is accepted, the fact that life is difficult no longer matters. . . . Life is a series of problems.  Do we want to moan about them or solve them?
This statement is not meant to be pessimistic, for Peck would affirm that life has its joys as well as its problems.       
Yet, if you have lived very long, you know this truth, that life is difficult.  Most of us have experienced serious difficulties such as the loss of a loved one, harsh financial reversal, a failed marriage, or a chronic illness.  And just as problems occur in our personal lives, so also do problems arise in our professional lives.  That is why I have titled my speech “Living in Difficult Times.”  
           There is no question that 2009-10 is an extremely challenging time for California community colleges.  This year we experienced a huge                                                                                                                                                                                                                      8% cut in our state allocation.  My experience in California community colleges dates back to 1973, yet I have never seen a reduction of this magnitude.
           Ironically, at the same time our funds have been reduced, our enrollments have surged.  The students still came.  This fall, our enrollment increased by 3% over last fall.  Colleges report that at registration time this fall, 95% or more of their course sections were completely filled, with many students on waiting lists and some—sadly—turned away with no classes at all.
At the same time that the colleges have increased enrollment, they have been forced to decrease the number of classes that they offer.  This fall, colleges cut classes, most by 10% or more.   This reduction certainly made economic sense since our colleges were experiencing a severe cut.  Furthermore, most colleges are over their enrollment cap; thus, they are educating many students for which they receive no remuneration.
           In one sense, this overcrowding is good news because it demonstrates our popularity.  Why are community colleges so popular?  Let me cite some reasons.
           First, in a time of high unemployment—more than 12% in California—people flock to our colleges for job retraining.  Our excellent career technical programs offer great training for job opportunities in a relatively short instruction time.
           Second, our transfer programs are filled to capacity.  Some students are there because the University of California and the California State University have reduced their enrollments.  However, for many, the community college is their first choice because students know they will receive quality education from dedicated teachers at a reasonable cost.
           After all, we are the college of the open door.  Where else will the person from a low-income family, the beleaguered single mother, or the immigrant seeking language skills go?  Our willingness to educate all who come explains why 2.89 million students enrolled in California community colleges in 2008-09, an all-time record for the largest system in higher education in the world.
           And in terms of continued high enrollment, the future looks very bright.  The California Post-Secondary Education Commission (CPEC) recently did a study of future enrollments in California community colleges.  The title of this document is “Ready or Not, Here They Come.”  CPEC concluded that community college will grow by an additional 222,000 students in the next decade.  They also warned that as many as 400,000 students could be turned away in the next two years because of our financial crisis.
           So the conclusion is clear:  we have more than enough customers.  Not only in California, but also nationally the community colleges are riding a wave of popularity.  President Obama recently announced a $12 billion federal initiative for community colleges. A few months ago, TIME magazine published an article suggesting that community colleges may be the key to leading us out of the recession.
           Never have I known the community colleges to be held in higher esteem than now.  In a recent statewide survey, released last week by the Public Policy Institute of California, respondents gave community colleges an approval rate of 65%, an approval rate higher than either the University of California or the California State University.
           But there is still the indisputable fact that we are woefully short of funds.  I firmly believe that the state of California is making a huge mistake by failing to educate the students that are vital to this state’s future.  And, realistically, we cannot hope that 2010-11 will be any better than the present year.  In the last two years, the revenues of the state government have dipped by 18%.  Furthermore, the state revenues in the first quarter of 2009-10 year are one billion dollars below budget projections.   Just last week, Governor Schwarzenegger predicted that the budget deficit in 2010-11 will be fourteen billion dollars. So we must prepare for a tough two years ahead.
I can assure you that the Chancellor’s Office will fight fiercely for just a share of state funds in the upcoming budget process for the 2010-11 year.  We will join the League, the Board of Governors, faculty groups, and other interested parties in budget advocacy.  And I encourage each of you to become a community college lobbyist in your community.   Go to your legislators’ offices, invite them to your office, and impress upon them the invaluable education you are providing to their constituents. 
           Once again, I return to the question, “How can we live in difficult times?”  We can simply moan and complain and point out how unfairly we have been treated.  Or we can start to turn on one another and engage in the blame game--faculty against administration, staff against the board—and engage in this intramural battle ad nausem. Someone has well said,  “The manners get bad when the food gets scarce.”  But the truth is that neither moaning and complaining nor turning on each other is profitable; in fact, they are self-destructive.  Rather let me suggest three successful approaches we can take in this time of crisis.  I call this “A Blueprint for Success.”
           First, we must prioritize.  What would you do if your personal budget were cut by 8%?  I am sure you would look carefully at your expenses and determine what is essential and what could be eliminated.  You would continue to pay the mortgage but probably eliminate expensive vacations and frequent dining out. And so, each college must determine what must be kept and what can be removed.
Let’s be honest.  In the past, in our rush to serve the needs of many, we may have initiated classes and programs that we now can get rid of.  We have engaged in what I call “mission creep.”  We did some good work, but not essential work.  Now we can use this crisis to better ourselves.  As I have often quoted a statement by Stanford economist Paul Romer:  “A crisis is a terrible thing to waste.”   
I read where one of college presidents simply explained one of the college’s class cuts this way:  “We cannot maintain an aerobics class for seniors and cut transfer classes for recent high school graduates.”  I think he is exactly right.  And the public will support us in these reductions. 
You recall that last spring in the budget discussions that there was one proposal to reduce funding for all physical education classes to non-credit funding.  We fought that proposal, pointing out that many P.E. classes are transferable, and some are even vocational requirements for such careers as physical therapy and coaching.
Fortunately, we won that battle, but it may not be over.  For when the legislature granted us the ability to reduce our class sections by 3.39%, a statement of legislative intent was inserted that community colleges should emphasize transfer, career technical, and basic skills courses. 
           So now is the time to eliminate courses that are primarily avocational, or, in some cases, to move such courses to self-supporting community education.  It is not our job to provide physical exercise for adults who don’t want to pay the fees to join an athletic club or provide a course for those who want to learn quilting.
           In other words, prioritize.  Explain to disappointed constituents or unhappy staff that we have no choice because of this fiscal crisis.  If one is ever going to downsize to essential classes and services, now is the perfect time to seize this opportunity.
           Second, we should aggressively seek funds to supplement state dollars.  This is an ideal time to become entrepreneurial.   In 2008, the Osher foundation gave California community colleges the largest gift in the history of community colleges.  That donation was $25 million for scholarships for needy students.  Furthermore, the Osher Foundation has promised an additional $25 million to our colleges if we raise $50 million by June 30, 2011.  Recently I attended a fund-raising event at El Camino College that raised over $600,000 for this cause, simply meaning that this sum will immediately increase to $900,000 as a result of Osher’s generosity.  If we as a system succeed in fully meeting the Osher foundation challenge, we will have established a $100 million endowment that will provide over 5,000 scholarships to community college students each year, in perpetuity.
           But let’s not stop there.  We can aggressively seek donations of equipment for our career technical programs.  Some of you are already doing this, but you can redouble your efforts.  Car dealerships can provide cars for our auto servicing programs; hospitals can give equipment to our heath care training, and the list goes on and on.  We can also seek gifts from our alumni and other businesses in our community. We should also step up our grant applications for the federal money that will become available in this year and in the coming years.  I pledge that our office will seek these grants on a system-wide basis and support you in your own applications.
           And we can explore new and innovative ways to generate revenues. Just a few ideas are the use of land for swap meets and other activities, rental of facilities for events, and exploration of joint-use with cities and other entities.  This is an ideal time for the expansion of our contract education program.  The Cuyagoha Community College, located in Cleveland, Ohio, now has three corporate colleges serving industry in that city.  These institutions are built strictly on contract education.  These corporate colleges not only are self-supporting, they actually turn a profit.
You recall the old saw:  “Necessity is the mother of invention.”  Forcefully make your case to the public.  Remember, you are serving your community.  Now is the time to let the community know that you need their help.
           Third, I want to suggest another bold approach.  Now is the time to innovate.  You may object and say, “How can we innovate when we have no money?”   Yes, there are new programs and services that cost money; frankly, we will have to forgo these approaches at this time.  But there are innovations that don’t cost money or may even save money.  And now is the time to explore these innovations.
           Let me suggest five possible areas of innovation to consider during this fiscally stringent time.  I don’t claim that this list is exhaustive; actually, I want these suggestions to be an impetus to many other fruitful ideas that our inventive faculty and staff can initiate.
           For one, I believe that there are many ways that technology could improve instruction, counseling, and other student services.  Too often in the past, computerized instruction was used only as an add-on to classroom instruction.  This addition may have enriched instruction, but rather than decreasing costs, it simply increased expense.  Now we have on-line courses; such courses need to be further developed since our on-campus facilities are often stretched to the max.
           But what about courses that are a mixture of lecture and computerized instruction?   One of the major reasons that America’s productivity sharply increased in the 1990s was the explosion of computerization in industry.  We need to have that kind of innovation in higher education.  For instance, we could consider putting some portion of basic skills instruction in math or writing centers.  These could be self-paced activities that do not require the assistance of a credentialed faculty member.
           And increased technology could be a big boost to counseling.  Although our present counselor-student ratio is woefully inadequate, a lack of funding will not permit us to hire large numbers of new counselors.  We can, though, analyze information and determine what can be given to students through technology and reserve face-to-face counseling for those times when personal counseling is necessary. 
           For example, the program ASSIST now furnishes comprehensive transfer information about individual universities to interested students.  The Student Services Division in the Chancellor’s Office is now helping guide this program through an ambitious technology rebuild called ASSIST: Next Generation.  This will be a decided improvement for providing transfer students the information they need.   If we carefully analyze other student services, perhaps we can determine other innovative ways that technology can help.
           Second, let me make another suggestion involving student services.  Recently, I learned that in Connecticut, all community college students who seek financial aid are given information on the financial aid that would be available if they would attend college full-time even if they are part-time students.  Why is that an advantage?  This information encourages students to go full-time when possible.  And all studies indicate that students are more likely to complete their goals if they are full-time students.
           Three, let’s work on common assessment.  Presently we have 110 assessment measures for 110 colleges.  This means that students who transfer from one community college to another often are forced to be re-assessed.  We in the Chancellor’s Office are working with experts in assessment in our colleges to produce a common assessment test.  Not that colleges will be forced to use this test, but this can save colleges money since individual colleges can then use this test and have it scored at about one-half the cost of the present assessment process.  Not only will this save money, but this also has the decided advantage of many colleges having a common assessment test.
           Four, there are now promising breakthroughs in developmental education.  We all know the unfortunate attrition in our present developmental (i.e., remedial) education.  Of those who begin at the lowest levels of developmental English or math, fewer than 10% make it to the freshman level.
           Last week I heard exciting presentations by Diego Navarro of Cabrillo College, Tom deWit of Chabot College, and Deborah Harrington of the Los Angeles Community College District.  Each of these faculty members described approaches to accelerating developmental education into one semester.  These intensive approaches produce more successful outcomes than our traditional two or three-level developmental courses.         The students are happier; the results are better; and the expense is not greater.  It is amazing what can be done when we think outside the box.
           Five, we must improve the transfer process.  Presently, the average community college transfer to a California State University graduates with 150 units when only 124 units are ordinarily required for graduation.  I understand that some of the excess units occur because students change their majors or some community college students deliberately take courses of interest that they know will not transfer.  But many of these units do not transfer because of inadequate articulation between community colleges and CSU. 
Articulation must be done on a system wide basis rather than college by college.  Think of the difficulty of each college articulating transfer agreements with each California State University.  There are 110 community colleges and 23 CSUs in the state.  If there were an agreement between each individual college and each CSU, that would be 2,530 agreements. 
Therefore, I hope that the recently formed task force with five representatives from UC, CSU, and the community colleges will come up with solid recommendations, including a comprehensive transfer arrangement.  The failure of comprehensive transfer arrangement costs students much time and money and the state of California literally millions of dollars.
           As I said, these are only five suggestions.  I am confident that the present dynamic combination of trustees, faculty, administrators, and staff has many more innovations to bring forth.  Now is the time to innovate; a crisis is a perfect time of receptivity.
           We are in difficult times; one would be a fool to deny that.  But I am convinced we can not only survive, but also we can emerge from this time both leaner and stronger.
           What is it that undergirds and strengthens people in difficult times?  I firmly believe that it is a belief in the importance of the mission.
           Over 200 years ago, our nation was engaged in a life and death struggle for its independence.  We were pitted against the most formidable military nation of that era, Great Britain.  In the winter of 1776, the American troops under George Washington had suffered several stinging defeats in this struggle.  In December of that year, Thomas Paine would write: “These are the times that try men’s souls.”
           Yet America triumphed against almost impossible odds.  Seven years later they had defeated Great Britain and emerged as a new nation—the United States of America.
           Why?  Because of the belief in their mission of freedom.  In the Declaration of Independence they enunciated their belief in freedom.  This mission sustained them in bleak and trying times, and eventually it led them to victory.          
           In like manner, we will survive these tough times because of our important mission.  We transform thousands of lives; we are institutions of hope.  UC and CSU have their unique missions, but only the community colleges can serve the vast majority of Californians that seek higher education in our state. 
           I feel most fortunate to serve as the Chancellor of this great system; it is humbling to give leadership and support to 110 community colleges in California.  Today I have suggested a blueprint for success in difficult times:  prioritize, seek additional funds, and innovate.  I am confident that these approaches can assist us this challenging time.
           But the real key is to rally the vast array of talent in our institutions—trustees, faculty, administration, and staff—to serve theses students.  Let nothing deter us from the fulfillment of our important mission.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Another Eyewitness Account of Wheeler Hall Events at UCB (Nov. 20)

Dear colleagues,

I was asked by some of you to do a quick write-up of my day as it
intersected with the Wheeler Hall situation today. Forgive the
lack of eloquence or coherence. It has been a very long and
exhausting day and yet I feel I must do this tonight.

I arrived at the barricades at 11:30 am after having seen the
various messages on FBF. Michael Cohen gave me a quick tour of the
situation and shortly thereafter I received a call (on a student
cell phone) from some of the students occupying Wheeler Hall. They
asked if faculty were willing to be mediators and I said yes, that
we were hoping for a peaceful resolution of the situation, and
asked what we could do as faculty. To that she responded that she
was going to email us their demands and that it would be useful for
us to forward this to top administrators. I asked her to send
these demands to Peter Glazer - she eventually did - and from that
point on Peter waged a valiant battle to contact George Breslauer
and other administrators so that lines of communication could be
established with the students in Wheeler Hall. This was a deeply
frustrating part of the day, as we huddled in the pouring rain,
trying to contact Breslauer and other administrators. None of them
seemed available. Our biggest concern was that without such lines
of communication this was going to be a police action and solely
that. The only administrator who did show up was Jonathan Poullard,
Dean of Students.

The crowds at the barricades were growing, getting more anxious,
and soon police reinforcements, including from the Alameda County
Sheriff's Department were being brought in and lined up in riot
gear. Faculty present at these barricades, some since early
morning, were brilliantly effective in avoiding a series of riots, police riots that is.

Each time there was a call to storm the building, they managed to
calm tempers. Note that by this time it was a deluge and the crowds
were cold, drenched, and impatient.

At some point - I don't remember what time it was - I heard that
there was going to be a press conference at UCPD. Along with
George Lakoff, I followed a group of ASUC senators to this press
conference, hoping to ask some tough questions. Earlier in the
day, I had already introduced myself to the UCPD chief of police,
expressed my concern about the situation, and stressed the
importance of a peaceful resolution. This time we found ourselves
in the basement of Sproul. Suddenly, some of the ASUC officers and
senators were allowed into the police offices: Will Smelko, Tu
Tran, Dani Haber, Noah Stern, Cynthia Nava, Christopher Franco,
Ariel Boone. They asked George Lakoff and me - the only faculty
there at that moment - to join them. We found ourselves in a
meeting with Vice Chancellor Harry Le Grande; Dean of Students,
Jonathan Poullard, and UCPD Police Chief, Mitch Celaya. The ASUC
senators were pushing hard and were also in touch with students in
Wheeler Hall. George Lakoff made the case for non-violence. We
ended up with a scenario where VC Le Grande and Police Chief Mitch
Celaya were going to go into Wheeler to officially receive the
demands of students and also present them with some options (a
peaceful exit if you will) with a faculty observer (myself) and a
student observer (ASUC senator Cynthia Nava). Maria Blanco arrived
at this point and a brief discussion ensued about whether there
were any AB 540 students up in Wheeler - we concluded from our
discussions with the students that there were not.

And so after some amount of discussion and preparation, Celaya,
Nava, Le Grand, and I walked past the police lines, into Wheeler
Hall. There was surprisingly little police presence in Wheeler Hall
compared to what was happening outside). We ended up on the 2nd
floor, in front of the barricaded door next to 200 Wheeler. I
later did a walkthrough of Wheeler with the police chief, and went
to all 4 sets of blockaded doors, to make sure that there wasn't a
police siege while we were trying to talk to students. Several
legal observers were also present at some of the doors. Cynthia
Nava was on the phone with the students but now they were worried
about any sort of meeting, especially one that included the police
chief. I should note that while this has been presented as
"negotiations," the idea was for the students to present their
demands to a high-ranking administrator and for them to be able to
ask the police chief questions about various scenarios through
which the occupation could be ended. The idea was that if students
did not like what they heard, they would then be able to continue
the occupation. We would simply leave.

For over an hour and a half we talked to the students who were
involved in the occupation, trying to establish the terms of this
meeting. Judith Butler was in conversation with them as well from
the barricades downstairs. After a while it was clear that the
students were afraid that such a meeting may become the excuse for
police arrests - despite all of the promises to the contrary. I
have to note that I was not surprised by their decision and felt
that it was important to respect it. The students inside were
aware of the growing police presence outside and of course it was
difficult for them to trust the promise of a safe meeting. As a
last-ditch effort, the police chief brought in a student
representative that some of the protestors had asked for - Marika
Goodrich - as well as Maria Blanco. But time was running out: we
had already been there for nearly two hours and had not managed to
meet with the students. It may be the case that Marika and Maria
felt that they were removed from the building. But I had gone into
the building knowing already that it was an unusual dispensation
and fully aware that the clock was ticking. I was not surprised
that at the two hour mark we were asked to leave. I left the
building with a heavy heart, worried about what was to follow.

When I came back out, some of the Wheeler students asked for me at
the window. Now several of them mentioned that they had wanted to
talk and even leave but felt that they had to abide by a majority
vote that had made the decision to stay. Both George Lakoff and
Judith Butler got on the bullhorn with them but it was soon evident
that the police were in the building. Dean of students, Jonathan
Poullard, advised that the students who had wanted to leave should
simply sit down as the police came in - when we communicated that
to the students they said that all of them were going to sit down.
We in turn asked the crowds at the barricades to show solidarity
with the students by also sitting down. This happened at the
Dwinelle side of the barricades.

A bit later Anne Wagner and other faculty suggested that some of us
head to California Hall. We rounded up as many faculty as we could
find and went to California Hall, which was locked. At first it
seemed hopeless. But we stood there, some of us pressing our
faculty IDs up against the glass door. And then a police officer
came out, asked us to sign our names, and explain our case. We did
so and a few minutes later she let us in. We found ourselves in a
meeting with Chancellor Birgeneau, EVCP Breslauer, Police Chief
Celaya, VC Le Grande, and Dean of Students, Jonathan Poullard.
Some of the ASUC folks were also there. The meeting had an urgency
to it - we were worried about the fate of the students who had
occupied Wheeler but also about students at the barricades. The
faculty emphasized their concerns about police violence and
mentioned several incidents. The solution for those occupying
Wheeler (they had already been arrested) was the following: that
they were to be cited for trespassing (misdemeanor) and then
released, without handcuffs, with faculty observors and student
observers present. No police vans, no Santa Rita jail, no
handcuffs. The faculty and students went out to disseminate the
message to those at the barricades, to calm things down, and
Shannon Steen, Will Smelko, and I went with police chief Celaya
back into Wheeler.

This time on the 2nd floor, the 30 or so students (some non- students, including an "embedded" reporter with Democracy Now) were seated, handcuffed. They were tired but in good spirits. In small groups they were cited, allowed to collect
their belongings, and then released. Will, Shannon, and I
accompanied police officers to escort each group out of the
building and past the barricades. We had already advised them to be
peaceful as they made their exit but we also urged them to
immediately seek legal counsel. They had many friends and
supporters waiting for them at the barricades.

I wish I had a more eloquent way of ending this report. I don't.
I am still making sense of it all.

Ananya Roy

Eyewitness Account of Wheeler Events on Thursday

Hi Everyone,

Since I spent a fair amount of energy on Wed and Thurs trying to record for FBF incidents of police violence against protesters at UCLA, and accompanied Ananya as a faculty observer on her second trip into Wheeler Hall (ie when the occupiers were cited and released), I thought I should describe what I saw between 5pm and when the last of the occupiers was released. This report will be pretty unadorned – like Ananya, I’m also trying to process everything that happened yesterday, and I’m still quite tired this morning.

Ananya has already described the meeting between the Chancellor and various admin, the ASUC leadership, and several faculty (there were about 10 of us). I’ll just add that at that point, there were really only 2 options for how to proceed: (1) book the students on site and escort them out of the building to the barriers, or (2) try to load them onto vans and take them off-site to book them, and release them from there (there was also brief mention of jailing them over the weekend, but that was never really pursued). While the chief of police Mitch Celeya preferred option 2, those of us who had been at the barriers all day and were worried about the increasing tension there after a series of violent encounters btw students and police (more on that below—I arrived at Wheeler at about 9.30am), impressed upon him and the Admin that this option would likely escalate the struggle outside the building. The ASUC senators and faculty were fully in agreement on this, and the Chancellor and Celeya agreed to go for option 1.

There was a brief discussion of the point of exit for the occupiers – Celeya wanted to release them to the east side of the building, but the conditions on the barriers there were especially bad. I started receiving text messages from a couple of students in the Solidarity Alliance who were on that side around 5pm that the people outside the barriers there were becoming increasingly agitated, both with police, and with other students who were trying to keep things calm. I had advised the students I knew on that side of the building to leave and come around to the west side, where things were tense, but less violent, as the east side was clearly getting to the point of being out of control. No one I knew after that point was up there any more. Celeya was convinced after stories like this to release the occupiers to the west side.

Celeya escorted Ananya, Will Smelko (ASUC President), and me into the second floor of Wheeler. The occupiers (there were about 40) were lined up against the wall in the north corridor, sitting with their hands behind them in “plastic tie” restraints. Everyone was unharmed and safe – as Ananya reported, the group was committed to non-violent tactics, and so had not resisted arrest, which contributed to their safety. The vast majority were students, although one was a reporter from “Democracy Now” who was not; he had on a press pass that was clearly displayed around his neck. Some looked genuinely scared, some were in fairly good spirits. A couple looked like the restraints were not just uncomfortable but painful, so the officers removed and recuffed those individuals at a looser setting. Several of them asked about their belongings (which they were allowed to take with them as they left the bldg), and about 2 or 3 (I now forget the number) of their fellow occupiers who had been arrested earlier in the morning and taken away. They were especially worried that a couple of them seemed injured. The UCPD in Wheeler did not know where they had been taken, but they guessed the Berkeley city jail where they were booked and released.

The officers set up a classroom to process the students, and took them in 4 at a time to do so. The plan was to escort them outside in groups of 5. I’d say it took about 30-40 min from the time we arrived for the first group to be processed and ready for release. At that point, there was a hold-up of another 10 or 15 minutes while the police outside were changed over – the Berkeley city police were replaced with Oakland police. During all of this, and between reassuring the students inside and asking questions for them of the UCPD officers, I was texting the students I knew outside (especially Cynthia Nava and others in Solidarity) of the plans to bring everyone out, and asking them to spread the word at the barriers to calm people out there (more on this too below).

It seemed to take forever to get the first batch of occupiers outside. A HUGE cheer greeted the first two groups to be released. (I will just mention that the experience of being inside the barrier when “OUR UNIVERSITY” is shouted by a thousand people is somewhat unnerving, even when you’ve been one of the people shouting it yourself. The lieutenant leading the escort, who had been a Chicano Studies major at Berk himself and had also participated in campus protests during that time, did say to me “now you know how that feels.” Not in malice, not sarcastically, but trying to impress upon me how intimidating the crowds are).

It took perhaps 30 or 40 minutes to get everyone outside. The last group to be escorted out included 2 protesters from the barriers who had been arrested earlier in the day. Of these two, one seemed fine and unmarked, but one had a large bruise on one cheekbone of perhaps 2” in diameter that was badly swollen. I asked him a couple of questions on our way out to try to assess how badly he was injured (he was able to speak fairly easily, but was clearly in pain. He didn’t seem dizzy or concussed — he was walking well — but I do hope he sought medical attention to be sure.

Ananya and I were so tired after we got the last group out, that we just walked straight past the barriers to our cars and went home. We were both just fried at that point.

So that’s my account of what happened after 5pm. A few points about what was going on at the barriers earlier that day:

· It was tense and scary out there. As many have mentioned, there were several incidents throughout the day of violence at the barriers between the police and the protesters, where the police used their batons on students to keep them behind the barriers. These erupted on various sides of Wheeler about every hour on the hour. These were the most frightening moments by far, and as one colleague put it, did make it seem like we were very close to riot conditions. I asked students at various points to write me with their stories of what they experienced, but there were faculty there too who could perhaps explain it in more detail. I will say this: I did not witness first-hand any of the inciting moments of the barrier altercations – I only witnessed the barrier incidents once they were already in progress. I have no idea what events sparked them, and have heard many different stories. Having said that, I also have big questions about what we’re doing using batons, which can do real damage to people, on unarmed students. Many of us have that question, and I do think we need to keep asking it.

· The students are scared. The students are scared. The students are scared. Around one to two thousand of them just witnessed police in riot gear clubbing their fellow students with batons. As I write this, I’m sure the student rumor mill is in full gear; I just hope the stories aren’t getting too wild. I do wonder whether the Chancellor needs to make a careful statement of some kind, although I’ll admit I’m not sure as to the nature or content of that statement. Perhaps about how students who wish to participate as witnesses at events like this should behave to stay safe. But it seems like we can't not say anything to them. Silence seems like a mistake at this point.

· The police are scared. Celeya related to Ananya and me while at Wheeler how unnerving it was to hear students on the barriers escalating the rumors about what police were doing to the occupiers inside – that they had used rifles, that they had tasers, etc. The fear on both sides seems to drive the escalation of tensions and violence. An obvious point perhaps, but one worth making nevertheless.

· Many of the students don’t trust any of the faculty. Not all of them, but a good chunk of them. Even when we were outside trying to tell them about the attempts to negotiate with the occupiers, we were corrected, shouted down in some cases, argued with. Apparently, even students who were relaying my texts about how we were coming out with the occupiers to the crowd were met with anger in some cases. It does seem like some of this anger and distrust is built up from what happened on campus here on Thurs (when students were removed from Bears Lair even when they had permission to be there) and at UCLA. They’d all seen the same images of UCLA that we had, and some of them had been there themselves. Apparently, the way the Regents got out of Covell after the fee hike vote was by putting out a story to the crowd that there was a woman in the building who had been injured and was near death, and needed to be taken away in an ambulance. So the crowd felt tricked when it turned out otherwise. At least that’s the story on what happened. In that context, any stories coming from us about the occupiers walking out free and unharmed were met with extreme suspicion

· We’re on pretty shaky ground here. I hope fervently that things on campus will calm down over the weekend and into the end of term. It feels like the Thanksgiving break comes at a good time for helping to that end. But I do worry about what will happen next semester, and in the coming couple of years, when the economic picture of the state and the country will continue to be grim. So the big question coming out of this is, to me, what will the campus do next time something like this happens? How can the communications between admin and students and faculty be strengthened, so that we don’t have a situation where no one seems to be dealing with one another, which just makes the situation on the barriers worse?

Shannon Steen