Chancellor, Campus Provost comment on 'dangerous' November 7 demonstration

To: UCSC Community

From: Chancellor George Blumenthal and Campus Provost/EVC David Kliger

Protestors at Wednesday's demonstration confront UCSC police on the parking lots proposed for the Biomedical Research Facility. (Photo by Phil Carter)

Two related protests on campus yesterday resulted in the arrest of six individuals, the issuance of citations, the impounding of vehicles, and a clash between protestors and law enforcement personnel. The incidents, which occurred on two parking lots proposed for the Biomedical Sciences Facility, involved a number of individuals not affiliated with the campus, including five people who scaled trees early in the morning on the site.

Instead of the constructive expression of speech through a nonviolent demonstration, the protest morphed into a dangerous example of inappropriate and in some cases illegal behavior.

Our police officers were stationed on the Biomedical Sciences Facility site yesterday because we asked them to secure a heavily traveled pedestrian area made very dangerous by a pre-dawn incident there. During that first protest, people climbed trees, hoisted wooden platforms high above the ground, and, in the process, dislodged a number of heavy branches.

By early afternoon, a second protest on the site was marred by a hostile confrontation with our officers--and with the Santa Cruz City and County law enforcement personnel whom we were unfortunately required to summon. This aggression included pushing through the barriers that had been erected to secure the area.

We respect the right of all individuals to speak freely on our campus. The expression of ideas, combined with passion, can be a powerful force for change.

But our responsibility is to also ensure that the campus's academic and support activities are conducted without disruption and in a safe manner. Individuals--whether affiliated with the campus or visiting--who commit unlawful acts or violate university regulations will be subject to the legal and financial consequences of their behavior.

I would also like to make four observations to clarify or correct information some protestors expressed at yesterday's demonstration:

. Our 2005 Long-Range Development Plan (LRDP) does not mandate that the campus grow by 4,500 students in the 15 years leading up to 2020. It does provide a general blueprint for that level of growth should campus expansion be needed to serve future California students and fulfill the state's educational mission.

. The process for producing an updated LRDP began years ago, before many of today's students enrolled at UCSC. To suggest that students were not involved in the plan's creation is inaccurate. Students served on campus LRDP committees and produced a "student involvement" paper that presented their perspectives.

. Even the more vocal critics of our LRDP believe that the Biomedical Sciences Facility will greatly serve our biology and health sciences students, generate meaningful research in areas such as public health, and provide economic opportunities in the Santa Cruz area in the form of biotechnology research.

. UCSC has worked diligently in its 42-year history to build a campus that respects its spectacular environment. That's one reason why UCSC is universally recognized and consistently ranked as one of the most beautiful campuses in the world. It's also a reason why our faculty and staff designated two existing parking lots as the site for the new Biomedical Sciences Facility.

Reasonable people can hold very different opinions about plans or building projects that express UCSC growth. People feel passionately about this subject and this campus, and that is a good thing.

But that passion is best expressed in a manner that values discourse, disagreement, and debate. As our Principles of Community make very clear, violent expression of one's beliefs is no substitute for these values at UCSC.