This week's strike activities

To: UCSC Community

From: Chancellor George Blumenthal

I want to acknowledge that the strike-related events of the last two days were challenging for a large number of people, both on and off campus. Our faculty and staff displayed great flexibility as they continued to support our students. I also want to thank our students, impacted by numerous access-related issues, for an abundance of understanding.

As you know, 20 people were arrested on Wednesday at the beginning of this strike; another two individuals were arrested on Thursday morning — one for battery against a police officer and another for obstructing police efforts to provide even limited campus access to members of the UCSC community.

It probably goes without saying that neither Executive Vice Chancellor Alison Galloway nor I approach strikes or protests with an interest in arresting students or anyone else. As we have said repeatedly, including in the days leading up to this activity, we fully support the rights of employees and students to engage in lawful strike and protest activities. We obviously don't support illegal activities, such as blocking roads, that are designed to close a campus of 16,000 students and thousands of employees.

Many of our students, in support of our dedicated teaching assistants, may have opted to not cross this picket line. But our students should also be free to choose to come onto campus — for a class or for any other need. Our faculty and staff, with an unending amount of work to do, should have the same right.

For the staff in our Undergraduate Admissions Office, for example, this is one of the busiest weeks of the year. While long-scheduled tours for prospective students and their families were cancelled on Wednesday, the Admissions staff managed to restart the tours on Thursday in an effort to help prospective students make an informed decision about our campus. There were similar extraordinary efforts made throughout the campus the past two days.

Ensuring access to the campus is critically important for many under-appreciated reasons. Approximately half of our students live at UCSC and are absolutely dependent on the ability of staff to get to campus to provide critical housing, dining, and medical services. We also have off-campus families who are dependent on childcare services on campus or who may need assistance at the Student Health Center. The many students, faculty, and staff who live on campus should be able to travel off campus with an assurance they'll be able to return home. And last but not least, we must have the ability to respond promptly to unforeseen emergency or other safety issues on campus.

For these and many other reasons, no group has the right to set itself up as the arbiter of who can or can't travel to and from campus.

With help from other law enforcement agencies, we made a great effort to manage the impacts this strike had on UCSC's neighbors. Traffic caused by this strike extended into many Santa Cruz neighborhoods, and an important county road was closed down for several hours on Thursday. On behalf of the campus, I would like to apologize to residents of the Santa Cruz, Empire Grade, and Bonny Doon communities — people unaffiliated with the campus who were nonetheless snagged by the considerable traffic this strike created.

In closing, I wish to say publicly how appreciative I am of the efforts of Alison and Police Chief Nader Oweis. Their decisions — made under very difficult circumstances these past two days — were reasoned, balanced, and in support of the entire campus.