Statement on Academic Senate Resolution

The resolution by the Academic Senate was introduced on May 22 and members began voting on May 23. Since that introduction and early days of voting, the residential campus access situation escalated significantly. For four hours on May 28, demonstrators blocked both entrances and erected a wooden barricade at the main entrance that was fortified with rocks, chains and glass. That unlawful barricade remained in place until May 31 when it was removed.

We strive to consult regularly with the Academic Senate and respect the input of our colleagues. The Academic Senate has authority over issues related to university curriculum and admissions and provides consultation on a range of issues. In the face of a permanent barricade of one of our only two campus entrances, and after multiple attempts to de-escalate and allow for a voluntary dispersal, we were forced to rely on the support of police intervention.

This decision was not made because individuals were engaged in demonstration or political protest or because of the topic of the demonstration. Anyone who had been closely watching the actions of the unlawful encampment can reasonably conclude that demonstrators intentionally sought conflict and insupportable disruption. In fact, demonstrators stated as much through social media–and they did so knowing that they were breaking UC policies and state laws.

UC Santa Cruz strives to effectively balance its mission of teaching, learning, and conducting research with the rights of free expression as seen through frequent rallies, marches, and other demonstrations that occur regularly on campus with little to no conflict.

Blocking campus entrances is a dangerous action that causes intentional harm to our community. Blockages interfere with emergency responders and disrupt the lives of students, faculty, and staff who are unable to attend medical appointments, pick up children and go about their planned activities.

As the Chancellor wrote in her message to the Academic Senate leadership:
”How long could we as an institution allow demonstrators to blockade, with barriers, rocks and chains, our entrances, disrupting the lives of more than 22,000 students and employees who are members of our community? How long could we allow access to medical and emergency vehicles to be dictated by individuals who have no expertise, authority or responsibility for the well-being of our community? How long could we disrupt the livelihoods of individuals who depend on being paid to support themselves, their children and families? How long could we disrupt or jeopardize our mission as an educational and research institution for which the taxpayers of this state entrust us and for which students and families pay? To choose to be part of this community, we must embrace our shared responsibilities to and for each other.”
Our highest priority will always be the safety of our students, faculty, and staff, and we seek to de-escalate difficult and dangerous situations whenever possible. Our approach over the past month to the unlawful encampment and other protests demonstrates those principles.

We continue to follow University of California systemwide policy guidance, which directs campuses to take a tiered response to public safety and to involve law enforcement if it is absolutely necessary to protect the physical safety of our campus community.

It can be very difficult for those without the responsibility for the safety and wellbeing of the entire campus community to understand what that responsibility truly entails. The police intervention was well-planned and patient with upwards of ten opportunities for demonstrators to walk away peacefully. The only cause of violence was the unwillingness of a small group to allow safe passage through the entrance of our campus.