This post has updates. See the end of this post for updates.
The chants and stomping of demonstrators reverberated off the cement walls of the Kerr Hall stairwell as students filed into the building that houses high-level UCSC administrators, including Chancellor George Blumenthal and Executive Vice Chancellor David Kliger.
Nearly 150 students marched across campus after a brief meeting at the Kresge Town Hall occupation, entering the Kerr from the bottom floor entrance marching to thte rhythmic beating of drums.
The occupation of Kerr Hall came a few hours after UC Regents voted to raise educational fees by 32.5 percent. Next school year students will be required to pay over $10,302 at a system that was once free.
As students invaded the facility, they chanted “Whose university? Our university!” and one student placed tape over a security camera. Once inside, students gathered in the hallway and lobby.
“Across the state, students are taking action to demonstrate our unwillingness to accept this state of affairs,” declared an anonymous student activist source in an email sent to members of the UCSC community.
The occupiers created a list of demands which they delivered and read to Executive Vice Chancellor David Kliger at 5:30p.m. After the list was dictated to Kliger, he shook the hand of the student who read the list aloud.
“[Kliger] took it gracefully. He listened to every demand,” said Matthew Palm, who worked as a moderator between occupiers and administrators.
Items on their list of demands were voted on using a democratic process; each student raised a hand for the ideas they supported.
“We actually know what democracy looks like,” said an individual who spoke at the Kresge Town Hall occupation, which happened moments before the Kerr Hall occupation took place.
The demands, numbering close to thirty, were divided into two segments, long-term proposals and short-terms demands. The short-term demands are the conditions that must be met by administration for the protesters to vacate the space which range from halting construction on campus to imploring that the University not acknowledge the 32.5 percent fee increase.
“The administrators can come out publically against fee hikes,” Palm said. “I’m afraid they are not going to do that because without the fee hikes the cuts will be a lot bigger.”
Throughout the processions, over 30 staff members left the building through isle ways created by the mass of student protesters. A few students masked with bandanas barricaded the side and back doors.
Similar actions are being taken across California. At the UCLA campus, students have occupied Campbell Hall and at UC Davis students have occupied an administrative building.
Kliger, in an email sent to the UCSC community in response to the occupation, expressed his views on such actions.
“Unfortunately, occupying buildings –a library last week, an administrative building this week – does little more than divert precious resources while denying others their rightful access to campus facilities and services,” he wrote.
The email sent by occupiers echoes the sentiment that the Kerr Hall occupation is a call to action.
“Students at Kerr Hall need your support immediately,” declared the email. “We call on all students, workers, and community members to come join us. We have the power to change the university.”
UPDATE 11/20 11:52am
Protesters are now not permitting entry to administrators or workers into Kerr Hall. Earlier, a small group of administrators were admitted entry by occupation participants in the building to “grab personal items,” including laptops. However, occupation participants have just now decided to not allow entry to anyone after this point. -R. Matsuoka
Additional protesters are gathering to rally in front of Kerr Hall.
Kerr Hall Occupants Expand Moment. See this post for updates.