Friday, February 14, 2020

The Grad Student Strike at Santa Cruz - Part 3

Injuries, campus bans reported after 17 arrested at UCSC demonstration

Santa Cruz Sentinel, Nicholas Ibarra, 2-13-20

Some students arrested Wednesday during an hours-long standoff with police near the UC-Santa Cruz main entrance reported seeking medical treatment for injuries sustained during their arrest. Each arrested student has apparently been banned from the campus for a two-week period. Disobeying police orders, scores — and eventually hundreds — of demonstrators had occupied the Bay and High street intersection from about noon to 3:30 p.m Wednesday, cutting off access to the entrance and completely blocking the intersection to traffic.

At least 17 people were arrested, with citations including lawful assembly, obstructing a public roadway and disobeying police orders. One graduate student’s face was left visibly bloodied and bruised, with a large clump of his hair missing following his arrest. Another graduate student reported bruising to her back and ribs. Other secondhand reports of injuries have spread on social media but could not be confirmed.

Speaking on condition of anonymity out of fear of legal and professional repercussions, both graduate students said they received medical treatment following their release. Both accused police of causing their injuries with pain-compliance techniques and rough handling. In response to a question about allegations of police use of force, UCSC spokesman Scott Hernandez-Jason said, “We are aware of many unsubstantiated rumors being spread on social media. Anyone who has a complaint about police conduct can submit a report online and the department will review following standard procedures.”

Graduate Student Association co-president Yulia Gilichinskaya criticized police response Thursday.

“Instead of taking our demands seriously and actually delivering on them, they are spending money busing in police from out of town to brutalize and arrest students,” Gilichinskaya said. Firsthand accounts and notices obtained by this news organization indicate all students arrested Wednesday were banned from UCSC’s campus until Feb. 27. Students who live on campus, however, can continue to travel directly to their residence and dining halls, according to the notices.

Hernandez-Jason, UCSC’s spokesman, did not directly respond to a question about the number of students banned from campus, or another question seeking clarification about whether any students arrested in the days or weeks ahead should expect similar bans.

“Any students arrested Wednesday who live on campus will still be able to go to and from their residence,” Hernandez-Jason said, citing a penal code that allows issuance of two-week long bans against those found to disrupt operations.

As the UC Santa Cruz grad strike entered a fourth day Thursday, a more jovial atmosphere prevailed on the picket line. Hundreds of demonstrators stayed — for the most part — on crosswalks and the grass near the main campus entrance, where they chanted and danced for much of the afternoon. 
Demonstrators briefly blocked the intersection Thursday after a contingent of dozens of science, engineering, technology and math graduate students marched from the campus to join their ranks. Many were wearing lab coats.

“A lot of people have been stuck in their lab and frustrated, and today somebody just put out the call and said let’s go down there — and it just happened.” said Jessie Lopez, a molecular biology doctoral student. “I was shocked, and I’m so proud of how many people showed up.”

The grad student strike is the culmination of months of unrest among teaching assistants at the Santa Cruz campus who say they can’t afford to live in the area on their current union-negotiated wages.

Note: Our initial post on this matter included the following:
Campus administrators have said it would be illegal for them to negotiate with strikers because the protest is unauthorized by the broader union, and their contract prohibits such work stoppages.*
*Editor's note: Yes, it would be illegal as stated. Directly negotiating with whatever ad hoc student group is leading the strike at the campus level would violate state law. However, the union (as opposed to the ad hoc student group) can be asked if it would reopen the contract voluntarily to discuss a pay adjustment. That is, both sides can always voluntarily agree to reopen an existing contract, even if the contract has a longer duration. Campus officials and UC officials may not want to make such a request out of fear that the entire contract - all campuses - would end up being reopened or simply may want to make the point that a no-strike clause in a contract has to be respected.

No comments: