Students and community members agitating for the university’s support stormed Cheadle Hall yesterday, vowing to sit in until they had concrete answers to their demands.
The students, who left the building in order to avoid arrest that evening, did get to meet with Chancellor Henry T. Yang later in the evening. Yang was on a trip to Northern California to lobby the California Coastal Commission regarding increased campus housing, but he made an impromptu diversion to meet with the group at midnight.
The protesters, who were camped out as of press time in the Pardall Corridor between Storke Tower and the Women’s Center, began the march at around 12 p.m.
Numbering about 70 strong, they wended their way through the crowded Activities Faire in Storke Plaza, shouting loud slogans in English and Spanish.
The rally was met by administrators – including the chancellor’s administrative assistant Kevin McCauley, dean of students Yonie Harris, and HR director Cynthia Cronk – standing at the front door of Cheadle Hall. The protestors, led by Morris and fourth-year women’s studies major Joel Rodriguez-Flores, marched through the line and proceeded to the fifth floor, where the chancellor’s office is located.
The protesters’ demands are threefold: They ask that the administration support the Cedarwood tenants, release $3.2 million for UCSB service worker pay increases and support affirmative action.
Protesters claim the state earmarked $3.2 million for UCSB in the 2006 California state budget, but Yang denied late last night that the funds existed, saying that he had spoken to UCOP about the matter and could not find the money.
Though the chancellor was not present during the daytime, he had asked Cronk and Harris to read a prepared statement. Cronk was the first to address the crowd in a jam-packed hallway on the 5th floor. She said Chancellor Yang was working on the payment issue, and that a resolution was expected soon.
“We sent a proposal about the raises to UCOP,” Cronk read from the statement. “We expect they will respond in the near future… UCOP insisted that [the raise] is on a system-wide basis. [Yang will continue to] talk with Dynes and the other chancellors.”
According to Yang, the UCOP proposal will come from limited funds UCSB already has, and not from any state budget-allocated money.
Following the completion of her statement, American Federation of State, County & Municipal Employees union representative Claude Piller commented that Cronk had failed to address the Cedarwood issue, and said that the response was not satisfactory.
“We don’t think this is enough, we’ve heard this before,” Piller said. “In addition, we’re here for the families of I.V… [Yang] can use some money from his discretionary fund to help the families move.”
Harris took the floor next, and squinting in the glare of lights from television cameras, proceeded to comment on the Isla Vista evictions, pledging to communicate with the county and saying that the university was working to remove pressure on I.V. by building new student and faculty housing.
“We will work with the county,” Harris read. “We have been constructing housing on campus. [Chancellor Yang supports] I.V. as home to a wide range of people.”
After making additional comments in which she said UCSB supports diversity, Harris expressed her support for the students gathered in the hallway.
“The students and workers are very passionate about this,” Harris said. “We’re trying our best to do justice to them.”
She also stressed that she had no problem with the students’ presence in the building so long as they remained peaceful.
“It will be a little noisier than normal,” Harris said. “They’re making their point, and that’s fine as long as people can get to the door if they need to.”
According to Rodriguez-Flores, campus security asked the group to leave or face arrest later on, and they complied around 5 p.m.
The protestors, who returned to their tents, met with Yang and Vice Chancellor of Facilities Management Marc Fisherat around a.m.
The protesters presented their demands once again, and Morris asked that the university donate $160,000 in discretionary funds toward helping the families relocate. Yang responded that he was unable to do so because it was considered public money, however he did pledge to try and steer private donors towards the cause directly.
Yang also donated $100 of his own money, which he took from his wallet to cheers from the audience. He said he would continue to work on the three concerns brought up by the protesters.