Campus provost provides update on Science Hill protest site

To: UCSC Community

From: Campus Provost/EVC David Kliger

Nearly two weeks have passed since a group of people, many of whom are unaffiliated with the campus, established residence in trees on two parking lots on Science Hill. Between one and two dozen others have established an encampment on the ground directly below the trees.

They are demonstrating against the campus's 2005 Long-Range Development Plan, the proposed construction of the Biomedical Sciences building, and a number of other issues.

The purpose of this message is to explain what the campus has done to respond to this protest and to describe why I believe the current situation continues to be unacceptable.

Following the first day of this protest on November 7, Chancellor Blumenthal and I immediately asked staff to make every effort to engage the protestors in dialogue. Our goal was:

* To reduce the impact this demonstration is having on the safe and productive operation of the campus;

* And to do so in a manner that does not require further confrontation by exercising the campus community's tradition of communicating respectfully about our differences.

Toward that end, Student Affairs staff members have been a daily presence on the site. They have attempted to speak to those few students there about health and safety issues; staff have also informed students about the manner in which demonstrations are permitted on our campus and appropriate channels to address legitimate issues. And staff have also communicated with students about the potential consequences of violating campus policies.

Twice a day, UCSC police have informed all protestors there--including those on the site who are not affiliated with the campus--about trespassing laws, campus regulations that prohibit camping, and policies that govern the "time, place, and manner" of protests on our campus.

While our efforts in this regard have not been met with cooperation from either the tree sitters or people encamped below, we are not yet ready to abandon this outreach.

Still, Chancellor Blumenthal and I remain deeply concerned about many aspects of this particular protest:

* This protest is in violation of campus policies that are designed to protect the rights of all members of the UCSC community, including the faculty, students, and staff whose work is impacted.

* My office has received numerous reports that the protestors have been disruptive and disrespectful to people who work and study in the area. In addition, these protestors interrupted the campus's recent Students of Color Conference, requiring that conference hosts summon campus police for assistance.

* Student Affairs' requests that the site be kept clean, sanitary, and safe have been largely ignored. This is an issue not only for the people on the site, but for people who study, work, or just walk past that area.

* The protestors, some of whom hide their faces in bandannas, are an intimidating presence for prospective students and families visiting the campus.

* University property in that area has been damaged and stolen, and nearby buildings have been defaced with graffiti.

* The two parking lots used by faculty, staff, and graduate students there have essentially been off limits, and access to disabled parking spaces in those lots has been blocked by this demonstration.

* Protest literature has singled out individual faculty members on the basis of their scientific research.

* Because fire alarms in the area have been repeatedly pulled and the demonstrators there have been unruly at times, the nearby Physical Sciences Building has been locked during the day for security purposes. This lockdown has denied students and others regular access to faculty, teaching assistants, and even classrooms.

Chancellor Blumenthal and I recognize that reasonable people can have very different views on the need for UCSC growth and the manner in which that growth should occur. We respect people's rights to disagree--as long as those disagreements are expressed in a manner that demonstrates respect for all members of our community.

This demonstration fails to meet that key requirement.

We've established the following web site to keep the campus community informed about this matter:

I invite you to communicate your thoughts to me about this protest. You can send me email at

Thank you.