Arson at Oakes College  (Case 17-1123, 17-1177, and 17-1197)

To: UC Santa Cruz Community

From: Nader Oweis, UC Santa Cruz Chief of Police

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UPDATE: 6:14 p.m., November 18, 2017

Last night, the UC Santa Cruz Police Department received information about another Oakes College arson (17-1201) involving the burning of a poster/flier that occurred on the evening of Thursday, Nov. 16, on the third floor of F building (Hong-Lim). Subsequent investigation throughout the night and this morning led to the arrest of UC Santa Cruz student and G Building (Weisel) resident Ryan Recalde, 18, on one count of arson. Recalde was booked into the Santa Cruz County Jail this morning.

Our investigation is still ongoing, and we urge anyone with information to come forward and assist us with identifying who is responsible for intentionally setting fire to posters and fliers posted on the residential hall walls or bulletin boards on the second floor of Oakes College, G Building (Wiesel House). The incidents include:

  • two fliers posted on the second floor that were burned at 3 p.m. on Nov. 1.
  • a flier and a poster on the second floor were found burned on Nov. 12. This caused the wall to be scorched and is believed to have happened between 5 p.m. on Nov. 9, 2017 and 2:30 p.m. on Nov. 12, 2017.
  • three posters and fliers posted to the second floor residential hall walls or bulletin boards were burned on November 16, 2017, between 8:50 p.m. and 9:05 p.m.
  • a flier on the second floor was set on fire and burned at 1 a.m. on Nov. 17.
    the door sign to Oakes College F Building (Hong-Lim House) was burned during an unknown time frame.

Anyone who may be a witness or has information regarding these crimes are encouraged to call the UC Santa Cruz Police Department at 831-459-2231, ext. 1.

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I am deeply concerned by a series of fires set at Oakes College that could have seriously hurt or displaced students in the residence halls. These were dangerous and reckless acts of arson.

The UC Santa Cruz Police Department needs the community’s assistance in identifying who is responsible for intentionally setting fire to posters and fliers posted on the residential hall walls or bulletin boards on the second floor of Oakes College, G Building (Wiesel House). The incidents include:

  • two fliers posted on the second floor that were burned at 3 p.m. on Nov. 1.
  • a flier and a poster on the second floor were found burned on Nov. 12. This caused the wall to be scorched and is believed to have happened between 5 p.m. on Nov. 9, 2017 and 2:30 p.m. on Nov. 12, 2017.
  • three posters and fliers posted to the second floor residential hall walls or bulletin boards were burned on November 16, 2017, between 8:50 p.m. and 9:05 p.m.
  • a flier on the second floor was set on fire and burned at 1 a.m. this morning.

Each of the G Building fires was put out by bystanders or residents, and reported to the UC Santa Cruz Police Department.

Furthermore, during a canvass of the area, we also found that the door sign to Oakes College F Building (Hong-Lim House) had been burned during an unknown time frame.

We have taken three arson cases at Oakes College, which combined could constitute eight counts of felony arson. Seven of the incidents have occurred on the second floor of the G building (Wiesel House).

The burned posters and fliers included an illustration of Elie Wiesel, community guidelines, and instructions on what do if locked out. While seriously troubling, there is not enough evidence at this point to determine whether these incidents of arson constitute hate crimes. Regardless, the health and safety of our students has been put at risk.

Anyone who may be a witness or has information regarding this crime is encouraged to call the UC Santa Cruz Police Department at 831-459-2231, ext. 1.

Safety Tips

No action or inaction by a crime victim makes that person responsible for their victimization. Perpetrators are responsible for crimes and their effects.

  • If you feel you or others are in danger, immediately call 911. Immediately report all crimes, suspicious people, activity or information to the UC Santa Cruz Police Department.
  • Be alert to your surroundings. Your actions can help prevent others from becoming victims. Attempt to keep a safe distance from strangers.
  • Trust your instincts. If something or someone makes you uneasy, tell someone, avoid the person or leave the area.

Campus Resources

For students, a range of support services is also available through the Cowell Student Health Center, including personal counseling through Counseling and Psychological Services and support through a Confidential Victim Advocate. More information can be found online.

For student and employees, the Office of Harassment and Discrimination, Prevention and Investigation Unit can provide assistance and can be reached at 831-459-2462.

For employees, the Employee Assistance Program can provide personal counseling and support. More information can be found online.

Report all suspicious persons, in-progress crimes, and emergencies by calling 911.

This bulletin is in compliance with 20 U.S.C. Section 1092 (f), the "Jeanne Clery Disclosure of Campus Security Policy and Campus Crime Statistics Act" ("Clery Act"), and the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR).