UCSB students joined in a weeklong, UC-wide protest against the alleged use of sweatshop labor for University apparel, and the recent arrest of 28 of their UC Berkeley and UC Riverside counterparts by marching to Cheadle Hall yesterday afternoon.
On Tuesday, April 11, 18 student protesters were arrested at the UC Berkeley campus and 10 students were arrested at the UC Riverside campus after sitting in on each of their respective chancellors’ offices.
While they did not stage a sit-in, UCSB students from United Students Against Sweatshops marched into Cheadle Hall to ask Chancellor Henry Yang for support in their effort to pass the Designated Supplier Program, USAS member and first-year global studies major Lindsey Quock said.
The program demands that all University clothing be made in specific factories that abide by laws set forth in the UC code of conduct, which prohibits the use of sweatshop labor. Quock said the University must ensure that the factories they use are actually following the code of conduct, as many legitimate factories are losing business to sweatshops.
“We’re trying to save those [factories] before they go out of business, or eventually they will all be sweatshops,” Quock said.
Quock and about eight other USAS members stood outside Cheadle Hall and announced their cause before entering the building. As he did with the union protesters yesterday, Yang greeted the USAS members in the Cheadle Hall entryway.
“We’ve been told we’re under ‘high surveillance’ and not do to anything out of the ordinary, or we may be arrested,” Quock said.
However, Yang was receptive to the protesters, saying he understood their concerns and that he – unlike the other UC campuses – would never have student protesters arrested. Yang and each USAS member hugged before going on their respective ways.
“I think it’s great that he supports us and shows care and attention,” Quock said.
While Yang approves of the Designated Supplier Program, Quock said she would like for him to extend his support and talk to UC President Robert Dynes as well as write letters to other University chancellors and administrators.
Yang said he had already spoken with Dynes earlier in the week. Quock said Dynes had promised to attend the Code of Conduct Committee meeting, held yesterday, to discuss the program. She said she later learned that Dynes did not attend the meeting.
“It hurt that he misinformed us,” Quock said, referring to Dynes.
The students who protested at UC Riverside and UC Berkeley were also from USAS. Berkeley student and USAS member Nina Rizz said that although the protests at Berkeley were somewhat targeting their chancellor, their main goal was to persuade President Dynes to support the supplier program.
While students were sitting in the UC Berkeley’s chancellor’s office, Rizzo said she organized a nude protest at a separate location on the campus, before marching to the chancellor’s office. Rizzo said the protest was intended to vocalize students’ concerns.
“We had no avenue to be heard,” Rizzo said. “Dynes had cancelled two meetings and the chancellor refused to meet with us a second time.”
As soon as students entered the building, Rizzo said, they were swarmed by police officers that threatened to arrest them.
UC Riverside student Shigueru Tsuha said he was arrested at the UC Riverside protest. He said the police gave the students three warnings before they were arrested at midnight, handcuffed and taken outside the building. Once outside, the police cited 10 students for trespassing and then released them.
About three to four hundred people stood chanting outside the chancellor’s office at UC Riverside, while Tsuha and the other UC Riverside students from USAS sat inside the office.
Tsuha said he was very offended by the way the university police reacted and he did not think they should have resorted to arrests.
“We were pushed to the limit,” Tsuha said. “[The university administration] created this situation. We didn’t.”
Rizzo said the Designated Supplier Program was debated at the UC Code of Conduct Committee meeting yesterday, with a majority of the members in support of it. Only the head of the committee and one other member were opposed to the program, citing certain operational and legal concerns. The committee will later send Dynes a recommendation letter stating both sides of the argument.