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Sit-in at Chancellor Yang's office to protest closure of Ventura Campus

by Jeb Friday, Nov. 06, 2009 at 10:49 AM

November 3, 2009 SANTA BARBARA -- In response to a call from working class students attending UC Santa Barbara's Ventura campus, a group of protesters sat in at UCSB Chancellor Yang's office to demand that the university fulfill its obligation to students of the satellite location.

Today at the sit-in about 20 undergraduates and a group of lower-income students (all women, from the UCSB Ventura Student Center) took part. Only one grad and no faculty showed up. After gathering at the steps of Campbell Hall, we marched around campus chanting against budget cuts and the planned closing of the UCSB Ventura Center.

We then did a sit-in inside the lobby of the main library. A number of students spoke about fee hikes, the difficulties of getting classes, and the Ventura students spoke on the closing and privatization of schools in poor communities. Half a dozen plain clothed police officers and administration officials came in at that point to tell us we had to leave.

So, next, we walked down into the food court and across some other parts of campus continuing our chants. "They say cut backs, we say fight back". A handful of uniformed police tagged behind. Lots of students came up in support and it was clear that many undergrads and members of the campus community want to organize, escalate the student-worker struggle and build a social movement.

In the final stage of the demo, we walked back toward Campbell Hall to do a sit-in on Chancellor Yang's office. At this point the group of around 30 was refused entrance into Cheadle Hall. Administration officials offered to meet with us in smaller groups, individually or at a future date. They clearly wanted to move us away from protest and toward forms of communication they see as more palatable and less disruptive. They offered to send a E-mail message to the entire student body about the closing of the UCSB Ventura Center, but this message would obviously be from the administration's perspective. One key point the Ventura student's pointed out was that the administration always keeps them out-of-the-loop; they have no role in deciding what happens to the school they attend.

Chancellor Yang was not on campus today. But we asked the Vice
Chancellor and other officials: Why has Chancellor Yang not done a sit-in (with the other UC Chancellor's) on Governor Schwarzenegger's office?

If Chancellor Yang and others would do a sit-in on the Governor's
office, students and workers would not be forced to sit-in on the
office's of our chancellors. We are all busy with work and classes so its difficult to find the time to come together (this is something those in positions of power can rely on to keep us unorganized and silent). We need to find time. This is call for everyone here to set aside a few hours a week to come and build a social movement on campus.

We demanded that the school not shutdown the Ventura Student Center, a site that primarily serves working class and lower income students. The administration is not budging on this, although admin officials say maybe some private-donation run program could work (a joke?!?).

The protest came together last night, when Ventura Center student activists contacted student activists at UCSB. We will be meeting on Wednesday night to talk more, at 7pm at the Co-op in IV and then later that same night at 9pm at El Centro, behind the Library. All are invited.
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