On blocking campus access

Dear Campus Community,

Throughout the afternoon and into the evening, demonstrators have been blocking the only two ways to drive on and off of our residential campus. This is an extremely dangerous effort to cause intentional harm to our campus community unprompted by any action on the part of UC Santa Cruz.

I imagine that many who are engaging in these protests believe themselves to be well-intentioned individuals who are trying to make change through their spheres of influence. Unfortunately, the actions of these individuals that we experienced today were extremely harmful to others in our community. Those who took part should be aware that their actions carry with them severe penalties — penalties that they should be prepared to receive.

Blocking entrances is unlawful and infringes on the rights of our students, faculty, and staff, who are trying to learn, teach, and go about their lives. From about 1-5 p.m., members of our community were unable to leave campus to pick up their children, to access medical care off campus, to show up to off-campus jobs, to leave campus after an early morning shift or to come onto campus for an afternoon or evening shift.

Many in our community are understandably frustrated and angry about the disruptions. Some motorists tried to drive their vehicles around the blockade put up by protestors at our west entrance, highlighting the danger of this situation. Demonstrators were asked to exit the roads to allow for others to safely come on and off of our campus, and the majority of them refused. We sent a campuswide SlugSafe message reiterating the critical need to open our roads. Not only did demonstrators remain in the roads, they proceeded to barricade and fortify the spaces, reportedly with rocks and glass. Such actions are not the work of individuals seeking peaceful resolution.

As we have said a number of times in recent weeks after students set up an unlawful encampment in our Quarry Plaza, free speech is vitally important on our campus. We are ardent defenders of the right of our community members to express themselves within the rights and protections of the First Amendment. As an academic institution, we encourage and depend on the robust exchange of ideas. That right, however, does not include the ability to block access to our campus or roads. Those actions are not protected speech but a violation of law and university policies.

We have had several significant disruptions, including the encampment in Quarry Plaza, interruption of scheduled activities at the Physical Sciences Building, and disruptions in dining halls and classrooms. As a community, we rely on one another to promote the safety and inclusion of others. The actions taken today harmed our entire campus community, with both libraries closing early; with dining halls reducing services, and with the lives of many impacted in countless other ways. Many campus demonstrations have shown that people can make their voices heard while allowing our mission to continue.

This evening we were again required to make the decision of switching to remote instruction on Wednesday and Thursday so that we can provide our students, faculty and staff with as much clarity and predictability as possible.

As chancellor, my responsibility is to our whole community. It is imperative that our campus functions for all, that our shared spaces and resources be available for all in our community. I trust the vast majority of our campus community supports that need.


Cynthia Larive