On Monday, UC Davis students took part in a systemwide general strike, which was organized by Occupy UC Davis. The strike was against tuition increases and was intended to shut down the UC Regents meeting, which took place at UCLA, UC Merced, UCSF and UC Davis.
Many students chose to participate in the strike and not attend classes, despite the fact that finals are next week. Some professors cancelled classes in anticipation.
Teach-ins, or open lectures and discussions on topics relevant to the general strike, were taught at different locations on campus by professors and graduate students. Teach-in topics ranged from meditation to the history of the Marxist theory.
At noon, an estimated 100 protesters held a general assembly in the Quad, and then marched to Dutton Hall, which houses the Student Financial Aid Office and the UC Davis Cashier’s Office.
The number of protesters occupying the building fluctuated throughout the afternoon. Protesters crowded around the entryway and staircase of Dutton Hall throughout the open lectures and discussions.
The building officially closed at 4 p.m. The cashier’s office doors remained closed throughout the assembly.
UC Davis police officer Ralph Nuno circled around Dutton Hall on his bike during the open lectures.
Nathan Brown, assistant English professor and author of a highly publicized letter calling for Chancellor Katehi’s resignation, gave the teach-in on Marxist theory, which ended with a question and answer session until 3 p.m.
“I have found that the best way to go about this as a faculty member during this time is to be open about your position,” Brown said. “I have drawn support from my department and other faculty members through my openness. In general, people should have the courage to speak out, people are inspired by action and want to help. Cancelling class is nothing compared to the courage of the student linking arms and taking that punishment for political change.”
Charles Shaw, an author and documentary filmmaker, furthered the discussion of action through a talk about historical police militarization, at 3:40 p.m.
“How did this event of police brutality on campus come about? Was it an accident, a fluke or poor training? It was in fact part of a 50-year process of militarization of the American police force. Federal money came into the state toward police forces in the 1960’s and ‘70s,” Shaw said.
Participants sat and listened to the lectures, which were followed by an open-ended question and answer period. Open discussions were encouraged by participants.
“These revolutions always begin with the poorest and most disenfranchised individuals, and it eventually grows. What we saw in the past couple of weeks is the beginning of a movement. Unfortunately, all nonviolent revolutions are very violent,” Shaw said.
Occupy UC Davis kept protesters informed through a text-in system, in which people could receive updates about the strike.
People from outside of Davis came to support the student protesters, including students from other UCs.
“Like the movement represents all works of life, I believe that health care should be for all. It is not a privilege, it is a right. I can afford to pay for the poor on my salary, but I can’t afford the rich too. I am here because I am representing a strong sense of volunteerism,” said Keenie Andrus, a nurse who spoke at the occupation of Dutton.
A group of artists congregated in the Quad, where they silk-screened posters that read “Hella Occupy, Ocuppy UC Davis.” Approximately 1,000 posters were made, and students stood in line for over an hour to get their free posters.
After occupying the building for the afternoon, protesters held a general assembly in Dutton at 6 p.m.
“There’s no time for symbolism,” said a female speaker at the General Assembly. “I think we actually have the ability to do something.”
At the meeting, two proposals passed. Protesters first decided to occupy the building overnight and subsequently decided to have a strategic blockade at Dutton Hall for the next two weeks.
The blockade is intended to control access to the building.
DANIELLE HUDDLESTUN contributed to this article. HUDDLESTUN, KINDRED and STRUMWASSER can be reached at email@example.com.