Rescind the racist disciplinary action against UCSC student & COLA4ALL organizer, Carlos!

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In December 2019, UC Santa Cruz graduate students officially began a grading strike after their demands for a desperately needed Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA) were ignored by administration. By February 2020, all ten University of California (UC) campuses had launched their own campaigns to fight for a COLA, which calls attention to the deep disparity between the importance of students and workers to the university and the hardship of their living conditions across the UC campuses. While UCSC strikers have received support from faculty, students, and staff all across the country, the UC system has continued to escalate their retaliation, resorting to police violence and threats of deportation. UCSC also filed student conduct charges against several COLA, UndocuCollective, COLA4ALL organizers, has taken disciplinary action against them, and 42 UCSC graduate students have had further employment blocked by campus administration, even though grades have been submitted.

Carlos Cruz, a first-generation Ph.D. student of color and COLA4ALL organizer at UCSC, was not only targeted and surveilled by police at the picket lines but the university also filed student conduct charges against him for, among other things, appearing "aggressive" or "intimidating". Called upon to explain his actions to the student conduct board, Carlos writes:

“I participated in a peaceful labor action as graduate students at UCSC went out on a teaching strike. My relationship to this nonviolent labor picket is one that stems from a working-class immigrant struggle. I understand the impor- tance of civic engagement and see the COLA movement as an extension of a fight against poverty. As a first generation Ph.D. student, I saw the importance of having my voice be heard at the picket line, but I did not imagine that our discontent would have been answered with violence by the police. I come from an immigrant community and was raised in a single parent household, so I experienced the realities of poverty. I spent most of my life hearing that higher education is the solution for one to come out of poverty and become successful. As I came to UCSC to chase a dream of becoming a college professor, I soon realized that my economic condition as a graduate student was substandard as I returned to live in poverty-like conditions where the only way out was through massive student loans.”

Nevertheless, the University of California fired Carlos from his position as a teaching assistant and he was also hit with a two-year suspension from the university, or a one- year suspension conditional on good behavior. Carlos was told that he could earn the generous one-year discount by conducting, among several other pen- itent gestures, a set of interviews with “UCSC affiliates whose work or learning were impacted by the strike.” The Assistant Dean of Students (judge, prosecutor, and parole officer all in one) does not hesitate to add, earnestly: “If you are interested in interviewing a UCSC Police Officer or staff member, please let me know and I will put you in touch.”

He is the only student to have been suspended by the university while the UC simultaneously dropped charges against a white organizer, who engaged in similar actions at UCI to demand economic and racial justice. These sanctions are not only an attempt to suppress free speech by cultivating a climate of fear and intimidation but they are at its core racist. Moreover, the National Lawyers Guild has released a statement declaring that these proceedings are illegal.

We demand that the UC rescind all of these racist disciplinary actions against Carlos IMMEDIATELY!