Wheeler Hall Occupied

by zunguzungu

At Cal, today around 2, seven students occupied the top of the building in which I had been grading papers:

In front of the building, Sociology professor Burawoy lectured his students on Foucault:

And then over email, Chancellor Birgeneau performs Foucault:

“The campus is dealing with a health and safety issue in Wheeler Hall and thebuilding is closed.  All classes and events scheduled in Wheeler Hall for thisafternoon/evening are cancelled until further notice.”

The protesters in no way impeded my ability to move in or out of the building, nor did the hundreds outside. When I left (around 3:30), students were easily entering and existing classrooms on the first floor, and the police were the only people preventing anyone from getting to classrooms throughout the building. The protesters were on the fourth floor, which is all faculty offices. But tomorrow, I guarantee that the chancellor will describe how the protesters forced 26 classes to close, as if anyone made the decision but him…  Oh, and also, it seems, UC campus police have been telling the students on the steps that they’re “participating in unlawful assembly.”

Addendum: Natalia describes her experience:

I’d been working in my office on the fourth floor all day and had no idea the students were there until the surprising cop presence in my place of work prompted me to check Twitter. You know what’s unpleasant? Having cops give you the fish-eye in your place of work. Likewise, having cops come in and “secure the building” by making sure your window’s locked on a perfectly gorgeous, warm, sunny day (of course we promptly opened the window and walked out on the balcony). Having to leave your own damn office in the middle of a Thursday afternoon (you know, your writing time) because UC admin has decided to shut down the whole building on account of a few protesters whom you can neither see nor hear. As usual, protesters caused me no problems, UCPD caused me a lot. (Operational) Excellence Without Money reigns.

And Laripley:

Chancellor has canceled classes in wheeler. Not protesters. Thanks4 shutting down my section chancellor!

Angus Johnston’s thoughts. Pictures above pilfered from Those Who Use It (scroll down to see what’s been going on). As always, the Daily Cal liveblog will keep up, and their twitter feed as well. (also, ReclaimUC’s feed)

Addendum #2: Riot cops use batons and mace to break up the “unlawful assembly”:

As police begin clearing the front steps of Wheeler, some students said the officers are using batons and pepper spray to clear the area. Freshman Joe Headland said he was sitting outside the front door of Wheeler, but got up to leave when the police arrived. “They started to retaliate with riot clubs and naturally when they do that people will push back,” he said. “The next thing I know I’m pushed to the ground with mace in my eyes. I think it was a ridiculously excessive use of force for such a peaceful demonstration.”

Addendum #3: Protesters’ demands:

  1. Roll back the fee hikes, both the 8 % increase of 2010 and the 32 % of 2009.
  2. End police repression on campus.  Hands off student protesters!
  3. Democratize the Regents.
  4. Put a stop to Operational Excellence, our campus’ incarnation of structural adjustment programs.

Addendum #4: Daily Cal reports:

Two graduate students, Amanda Armstrong and Julia Chang, are currently treating students that have been pepper sprayed. They said they have treated about five people so far.

Addendum #5: Daily Cal reports:

It has just been announced that the protesters on the ledge of Wheeler will come down without facing arrest. They are also currently arranging a meeting with Birgeneau to discuss Operational Excellence.  Additionally, those protesters facing student conduct charges from the last year and a half – including those from the Nov. 20, 2009 Wheeler occupation – will be offered the option of probation until the end of the semester.

This is the first time the protesters have won real concessions from the administration. Every other time, the administrators have refused to negotiate and sent in riot police.