We are a coalition of students formed out of the Student Labor Organizing Conference in UC Riverside in September 2013. We formed a committee to organize the student body in solidarity with workers on campus. Service workers at the University of California have been intimidated and retaliated against by their managers and supervisors, are understaffed and underpaid, have had to pay more into their pension and healthcare, and have received a 1.5 percent pay cut this year, while the top administrators have a 3 percent pay increase. All of these issues are long standing problems faced by the University of California service workers. To combat the workplace intimidation of patient care workers, workers and students organized an unfair labor practice strike on Nov. 20th.
As a committee we decided to raise awareness of these issues and our grievances against the university as students through holding a demonstration during the Chancellor’s Founder’s Day speech on Nov. 15th. This was the third annual Founder’s Day action, and has been of history at our university. It was a short protest in which we read off our demands and grievances during part of his speech,held a die-in symbolizing the death of public university, and then marched publicizing the student and worker strike.In previous years there has been no disciplinary action for these demonstrations, and we feel that this years student conduct charges are a political act related to our coordination of a student solidarity strike with workers. In regards to this action, we were cited in violation of the student conduct code, that restricts the “time, place, and manner” of free speech on the University of California San Diego campus, which were just added last year, and was denounced by the UC San Diego school newspaper and the UC San Diego Associated Students. We were cited under this new conduct code for disturbing the peace, failure to comply, and disrupting a university activity, all of which are separate charges that are misapplied conduct code violations. Furthermore other students who participated were not cited because they are not organizers in the student solidarity strike. A participant who is not a student at UC San Diego was also cited under the student conduct code and identified. A principal member of The UCSD Strike Committee and member of the Associated Student body, who was not present at the Founders Day action, was cited the same day for another action in relation to the strike. Charges also have been applied inconsistently and inappropriately, with members present who did not participate but were present were cited for violating student conduct code.
Gary Ratcliff, the Assistant Vice chancellor, recorded our demonstration and used Facebook to compile our identities, including photos that are private and photos that were chosen for political content in order to frame those involved in the action in a particular context. The official report mentions our relation to the The UCSD Strike Committee and the strike, which is irrelevant to the Founder’s Day action. Ratcliff also wrote the official report that brought the sanctions against us. As an assistant Vice Chancellor, Ratcliff, oversees Student Legal Services and other student administrative bodies, and is pressuring student conduct board to pass sanctions that he wants against us, including writing an essay about how we violated the First Amendment. Gary Ratcliff has a history of harassing and intimidate student organizers in past actions, which illustrates a conflict of interest in how he wants to intimidate students to limit future student organizing. Other witnesses include Cynthia Davalos, Heather Belkk, Kerry Donnel, Sherry Mallory, Hayley Weddlie, and Dave Rose, all of which are administrators in the UC Associated Students and in Student Affairs.
We feel that these charges are political, and an attempt to limit future student organizing and free speech on campus, and a way to stifle solidarity between student and worker struggles at the University of California . There is no precedent for sanctions against demonstrations of this type, and we will not let this set the precedent. We are students and workers uniting, and we won’t let our university die!