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Friday, July 30, 2021

Occupy UC Davis encampment to resume Thursday

As Winter quarter begins, participants of the UC Davis occupy movement have made plans to re-occupy the Quad on Thursday and continue their presence on campus.

Following the recent 81 percent tuition increase proposal and demonstration of police brutality toward student protesters on West Quad the week of Nov. 14, encampments were established to represent student solidarity with the Occupy UC Davis movement. Similar encampments were seen on other University of California campuses, such as UC Berkeley and UC Los Angeles.

According to the administration, tents that were erected did not comply with the university policy of obtaining a permit or reservation to camp overnight on the Quad grounds. After campus administration informed protesters of university policies in writing, many elected to remain on the Quad. This resulted in 10 arrests.

UC Davis campus spokesperson Claudia Morain said the administration has not received official word on whether the occupiers plan to re-establish the encampment. In the event of its re-establishment during the Winter quarter, university officials would assess the situation and proceed in the best interests of the university.  If occupiers choose not to set up camp, Morain said, the first step would be to open an active dialogue with the protesters.

“Further steps would depend on the facts of the situation, but every effort will be made to resolve issues collaboratively and peacefully,” Morain said.

Geoffrey Wildanger, a second-year art history graduate student, camped in the Quad and moved after the General Assembly elected to initiate protests in Dutton Hall, which houses the university’s financial aid offices.

According to Wildanger, no plans have been decided upon officially in regards to resuming the Quad or building occupations for Winter quarter.

Teach-ins, lectures and open mics have been organized for this week. The collective event, named “Examining Power and Privilege in our Movement” on Facebook, includes events such as “Occupy/Decolonize?”, “Poems + Songs about Banks”  and “Dynamics of Activist Culture: How we can build leadership and share power without reproducing privilege and oppression.”

According to the Facebook event page, the occupation is said to be re-established on Thursday.

Wildanger believes the international outrage at the show of police brutality on campus encourages the UC Davis Police Department to take a gentler approach to attempt to disperse protesters. Police took indirect actions that would discourage protesters, according to Wildanger.

“Last quarter, for instance, police would come and harass those occupying by making loud noises late at night or early in the morning when people were trying to sleep or by invading people’s personal space and, when asked to leave, appealing to their supposed right to go wherever they like,” Wildanger said.

UC Davis chancellor Linda P.B. Katehi, who has spoken with students regarding their opinions on recent events in formal and informal settings, has repeatedly expressed her dismay in actions that have been taken against student protesters and has opted to take full responsibility for them.

“I pledge to take the actions needed to ensure that this does not happen again. I feel very sorry for the harm our students were subjected to and I vow to work tirelessly to make the campus a more welcoming and safe place,”  Katehi said.

In Katehi’s address to the UC Davis campus community released Nov. 18, regarding the initial removal of tents from the Quad, she specifies the safety and fiscal concerns that accompany camping on the Quad.

“The resources required to supervise this encampment could not be sustained, especially in these very tight economic times when our resources must support our core academic mission.”

During a public town hall meeting that took place Nov. 29, it was said that Katehi did not instruct police to use force in removing tents.

Morain affirmed this in an earlier interview as well and also specified the present risks.

“There was a concern that letting them remain and letting the number grow could be a health hazard. The whole idea was to end it peaceably,” she said in a press release.

Participation in Occupy UC Davis encampments, according to protesters, provide the opportunity to build bonds with others that share the same aspirations for the future of education while accomplishing political feats.

“Truly it has been an invaluable experience. I have made many new friends, and the friendships I already had have grown much stronger,” Wildanger said. “Accomplishing concrete political goals — like the resignation of Chancellor Linda Katehi, a call upon which the 3,000 person [General Assembly] reached consensus — are extremely important, and we are striving to attain them through protest. But one should not think that political actions are dry and boring things where everyone simply feels angry. Quite the contrary, the occupation is actually lots of fun.”

Further information regarding the Examining Power and Privilege in Our Movement and its schedule can be found on its Facebook event page.

MUNA SADEK can be reached at campus@theaggie.org.

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