Upholding community responsibilities

To: UCSC Community

From: Chancellor Cindy Larive

Everyone has been through a great deal in the past month. You already face innumerable pressures both private and shared, and have continued your work and education in the face of global tragedies that should be unthinkable, but sadly are not. As our community members seek to have their voices heard and to engage in protest, it is crucial not to let the overwhelming nature of the pain we feel cause us to abandon our obligations to each other.

As a campus with only two entrances and limited roadways, we depend on our community to promote safety and accessibility. We rely on individual members to act in ways that promote the safety and inclusion of others, and to encourage others to uphold our community responsibilities.

On Thursday, unfortunately, some disregarded these responsibilities by blocking the main entrance of our campus for hours, preventing ingress and egress, closing the intersection, and creating unsafe situations where drivers were waved into the intersection by protesters and then surrounded. Stepping into an active intersection without coordination to safely stop or divert traffic created an unacceptable safety risk to not only the motorists but to those who were protesting. Blocking the entrance to campus and the city street are not protected by the First Amendment. It is dangerous, a policy violation, and illegal.

These actions also contradict the values to which our community commits and on which it depends for our collective well-being. When a group chooses to block the entrance and the street, they are disadvantaging some of our most vulnerable community members. What do these actions say to those with mobility limitations, those who rely on buses for transportation, or those who are solely responsible for childcare? For many, the campus is their home, the place where they receive food and healthcare. I ask everyone to consider the fact that the most harm is caused to those who are already vulnerable when you prevent people from entering and exiting campus. 

The impacts also went beyond UC Santa Cruz. The streets surrounding campus are the jurisdiction of the City of Santa Cruz and many families depend on them to go to work, care for their family needs and much more. Students, faculty or staff who choose to block an entrance or otherwise disrupt normal activity on our campus will be held accountable under applicable policy or law. 

Protest and free speech are rights that we protect on this campus. Blocking city streets and denying access to campus is not. Accessing the campus freely is a right we need to collectively protect. We must work together as a community to ensure that we do not prevent access to food, housing, healthcare, and education for those without the ability to hike or bike up the hill, or those who rely on the bus. 

As a university, we must support, uphold, and protect the rights of everyone in our campus community. This means both ensuring our community members can demonstrate in a way that elevates issues they care so deeply about while also ensuring such activities do not infringe on the rights of others. With your help, we can do both.