Chancellor Henry T. Yang was greeting the parents of UCSB students on campus Saturday when a small group of irate students and workers crashed the event with complaints about the UC’s leadership.
Yang was at the breakfast event for Parents’ & Family Weekend in Cheadle Plaza when picketers arrived with signs protesting fee hikes, service cuts and the increasing privatization of the UC system. The assembled protesters — who hailed from organizations such as Campus Left, the American Federation of State, County & Municipal Employees and I.D.E.A.S. UCSB — called for a formal meeting with the Chancellor so they could detail their concerns about handling of the University of California.
Cathy Kwon, a fourth-year history and sociology major, said the UC system’s lack of transparency and communication with students is unjust.
“We are a coalition of unions and several groups who have been affected by the cuts,” Kwon said. “Despite the walk-out and the teach-in, no one has gotten any answers. We are still questioning not only the Chancellor but also the UC system.”
According to Edward Woolfolk, an Exercise & Sports Studies Recreation employee, union member and organizer of AFSCME, Chancellor Yang has avoided talks with AFSCME local Chapter 3299 for the past two years.
“We want a real meeting, not an ice cream social,” Woolfolk said.
Megan White, a fourth-year feminist studies major, said the chancellors of the UC campuses have not responded to the crisis in any meaningful way.
“We want to know why the chancellors of the UC system haven’t taken action,” White said. “Where are their allegiances?”
Before making his speech welcoming Parents’ & Family Weekend at UCSB, Chancellor Yang acknowledged the picketers, shook hands with each individual and took notes while listening to the activists, who gathered around him voicing their complaints.
“I was glad to have the opportunity to meet and talk with some of our students and service staff who were picketing there,” Yang said. “They raised a number of concerns and issues that are important to all of us as our campus faces such an unprecedentedly difficult time with the budget shortfall. I was pleased to have the opportunity to take notes, and I will convey their concerns and input to our administrative and academic colleagues here on campus, as well as to the other chancellors, UCOP colleagues and the Regents, so we can all dedicate our efforts to work together to address these concerns and issues.”
Mitchell Stewart, a fourth-year history major, said students have the right to be involved in the inner workings of the UC Regents.
“A meeting would be great so that students could know the administrative aspects,” Stewart said. “We just want them to tell us what’s up.”
Woolfolk said the picketers — who stood silently after Yang took to the podium for his speech — were pleased with some of the Chancellor’s promises.
“He did say that he wanted to meet,” Woolfolk said. “This is the only way to get things done.”
Nayra Pacheco, a member of the UCSB social network I.D.E.A.S., said the picket was deliberately scheduled to coincide with the breakfast event.
“Most of the time, [parents and prospective students] don’t know the affect of what is happening, so I think we’ve accomplished in communicating our message to the parents and pressuring the Chancellor to take action,” Pacheco, a second-year history and envi-ronmental studies major, said. “Hopefully [Chancellor Yang] will be able to represent us during the UC Regents meeting.”
Yang said campus activism is encouraged and contributes to making the UC run smoothly.
“I do want to take this opportunity to share with our staff and service colleagues just how deeply we appreciate their dedication and service to our campus,” Yang said in a written comment. “I also want to emphasize that it is our highest priority to provide an accessible, affordable and quality education for our students, and of course, that we do not want to privatize our University.”
According to Pacheco and Woolfolk, students and workers will be driving to the last day of the upcoming three-day Regents meeting, which spans from Nov. 17-19 at UCLA.
“Our voices need to be heard,” Pacheco said.