In the late afternoon of Oct. 28, 2006, the cool pavement of the courtyard outside the Humanities Lecture Hall was marked by the shadows of around 50 students who waited for the arrival of the UC Regents.
When the Regents snuck into the building unnoticed, the courtyard cleared and students stuck to the edges of the lecture hall like magnets, energized by their anger toward UC mismanagement.
Protestors fired complaints and critiques with jagged words that caught on the backs of their throats and tumble out their mouths, hitting the wall of UC policemen between them and the building. Together, students and police clumped to the edges of the lecture hall, like papier mache, covering the quiet chasm lined with Regents and other invited guests.
A momentary crack in the papier mache shell of dissent sent three particles of protestor/cop friction rumbling into the building, penetrating the hum of the speaker’s microphone.
Shrill cries and the pounding thuds of restless bodies overpowered the acoustics as students Alette Kendrick and Steve Stormoen, and alumna Tanith Thole were dragged into a closed room inside the auditorium and arrested—when the door shut, there was silence.
Thole escaped without charge, Stormoen received one quarter of academic probation, but Kendrick received eight charges, including “lewd conduct,” and “refusing to identify herself to a University official.”
Six months later, on April 25, Kendrick was found guilty of all eight accounts and issued a three-year suspension from the University.
Though the line between victim and aggressor is hazy—Kendrick herself pleaded no contest to “resisting arrest” and “disrupting a public meeting”—the consequence of Kendrick’s arrest is not:
Alette Kendrick has been brutally and unfairly made an example of by UC Santa Cruz administrative officials.
In the history of UCSC, no sentence has ever been so arbitrarily assigned as Kendrick’s mandatory three-year hiatus from the California University system.
In April 2005 under Chancellor Denton, tempers roared and resistance held strong as Berkeley riot police were called onto the base of campus to disband Tent University. The officers arrested 17 UCSC students who would not comply with their protocol—even after the officers administered choke holds. But all charges were eventually dropped.
Even at last year’s heated Students Against War counter-recruitment protest, only one student was arrested and his charges were shortly dropped.
The most compelling argument surrounding Kendrick’s arrest points to the fact that she was one of maybe two other African American students at the Oct. protest. So far, 21 campus organizations support this theory, as well as one off-campus organization, and all are calling on the University to drop Kendrick’s unfounded, over-exaggerated suspension.
At this point, the facts are very persuasive, and very much in their favor.
Why should Alette Kendrick receive charges, when the white male arrested alongside her—and charged with similar counts—be let off with just a quarter-long probation? And all this is profoundly suspicious, especially at UCSC, where perpetually low minority enrollment rates continue to plague diversity on campus, and the struggle to establish an Ethnic Studies Department continues to be fought.
It is shameful that such a blindingly bright spotlight has been turned on one individual, when the fault of this University stretches so far beyond this isolated incident.
Above all else, UCSC has denied an individual her right to an education.
While the university has a role in this case, Alette’s fate should ultimately be up to the courts. The UCSC administration is entirely out of line by taking this case into their own hands and divvying out unjust punishments. Regardless of Alette’s actions during the Regent’s protest, the administration should leave the decision up to the courts instead of stripping away at a student’s education and future. Three years suspension is an absurd punishment for the faulty charges that have been pressed in UC judicial procedures.
If educating is not what this university strives to achieve, then there is something very wrongâ€¦
The numbers don’t add up.