What initially began as a rally at Quarry Plaza quickly developed into an occupation of Hahn Student Services. As a follow up to last week’s rally, the Autonomous Student collective and a crowd of roughly 60 people gathered to protest Janet Napolitano’s appointment as UC president.
Besides Autonomous Student leaders and organizers, several students were invited to speak out to the crowd about their individual experiences and opinions about Napolitano’s presidency. Her history as secretary of Homeland Security continues to arouse skepticism in the collective, as well as many within the overall student body, especially those who are undocumented.
“My name is Claudia, I’m undocumented and I’m unafraid,” said one speaker who courageously related the rally back to her own personal, academic situation.
Speeches at the rally prompted others to share their opinion within the individual workshops that happened afterward. The protesters split into groups, discussing possible solutions to grievances concerning the issues Napolitano brings to her position as president as well as other matters, like the budget and privatization of the university.
Hahn Student Services administrators expressed virtually no objection to the occupation, merely closing off their service windows as students waved goodbye.
Several police officers circulated the building and were cooperative with students in allowing discussion within Hahn’s halls. This area was key for the rally, as it represented the one place where students interact financially with the UC.
“It’s the belly of the beast,” said second-year transfer student Maggie Coshnear. “Hahn is the place where students most directly experience privatization.”
Many rally members also expressed support for both AFSCME and the UAW, two unions that reached agreements with administration hours before their proposed strikes. Solidarity was still expressed among these coalitions, as several teaching assistants (TAs) were among the few standing outside the building showing support for the undergraduate Autonomous Students.
“Undergraduate students are not the only ones who go to this school,” Autonomous Student member Angeline Vu said. “There are graduate students and there are [service] workers. You have to take into consideration that educational achievements are advancing at the expense of someone else.”
Two UC Berkeley students were invited inside to recap related occurrences at their campus to the UCSC student body. They also discussed the importance of building coalitions not only within individual campuses but between the UC campuses as well. They stressed doing so would bring greater emphasis to the student voice and reassure the power that it can have, especially as a larger collective across California.
“I encourage you all to have lots of conversations with each other, talk about your backgrounds, and know why you’re here,” said one anonymous UC Berkeley representative. “What are you opposing? Why are you opposing it? What are you frustrated with and how does it relate to the collective?
Interconnectivity continued to be emphasized by several speakers and by the student workshops, making student voices louder and student power stronger.
“Student power means winning things together,” Coshnear said. “Not through lobbying the administration, but through student orgs and through actions like these. We sense we can actually win things when we’re together.”
Autonomous Students discussed remaining within Hahn Student Services overnight.