My Open Letter to UCSC chancellor Blumenthal

Note: This post was submitted by guest writer Almishti, and published as a show of support of this writer’s position.

In response to police actions on UC campuses; This is my open letter to chancellor Blumenthal of the University of California, Santa Cruz, on Occupy UC Davis. 

 Dear Chancellor Blumenthal,

It may have come to your attention that on Monday, Nov. 21, a rally is taking place as a  show of solidarity and support for our fellow students at UC Berkeley and UC Davis.  As I’m sure you know, recent episodes on those campuses of police aggression against students engaged in lawful, non-violent demonstrations, as per their Constitutional Right of Assembly, have gained national and world-wide attention.  Not only have these incidents led many at home and in other countries to wonder aloud, “what is happening to democracy and freedom in America?” they have also brought shame and disgrace upon the UC system.  In allowing such unjustified acts of aggression against the student demonstrators, Chancellors Ketahi and Birgenau have also dishonored themselves, prompting calls for their resignation and much contempt from various news media.  It remains to be seen what they will decide to do to amend these actions, but so far they have mostly only given transparent excuses and denials of culpability–it is clear to very many observers that justice is being ill-served.

It is our hope, as enrolled and tuition-paying students here at UCSC, that Monday’s demonstrations, and any such events in the future, do not prompt such reactions from the police and that you, our Chancellor, see fit to ensure that our Constitutional Right of Assembly is safeguarded with all the means at your disposal.

We need to feel that the university we have chosen to attend, and its administration, as a public institution and its stewards, shows itself to be sincerely devoted to the national principles of democracy, liberty, and justice that we have all been told since childhood that this country and its institutions stand for.

We need to feel that our voices, as students who attend here in good faith that we will receive the quality education that we pay for, will be heard.

We need to feel that we have the fair opportunity to publicly express our concerns without fear of being wantonly beaten with billy-clubs or sprayed in the face with ungodly amounts of pepper-spray simply because we act on a felt moral obligation to speak up on issues that directly affect us and our futures.

We need to feel that our Chancellor understands what our concerns are, and has the clarity of conscience to allow us to express those concerns and truly defend our right to do so.

What would be most excellent is to hear from you a public statement of support for our aims, or at least that you are acting responsibly in regards to our rights and status as students. After all, please remember that without us students, the UC system would be nothing but a collection of expensive, empty buildings.

In addition, please keep in mind that it is us, the UC student body, that has already born the brunt of the state-imposed budget cuts. Our fees have been and continue to be raised; important classes and entire programs are being cut; faculty positions are not being filled; we have fewer TAs and discussion sections; and we have repeatedly had to make sacrifices that we were never even asked to make. We have not had our opinions solicited, nor have we had the chance to vote on any of these actions. Our options are few: to either grin and bear it and make it through, or to leave school if we or our families can no longer meet the rising cost of a UC education. With all of that, the least we should be able to do is to hold a demonstration and not be molested for doing so.

So please, Chancellor, consider carefully your responses to such demonstrations. Please know it is not our wish to incite violence, but we do wish to be respected. When the police are allowed to beat us and mace us, consider what that says about what those responsible for such actions must think of us! Are we seen as such a bunch of ‘anarchistic’, rabble-rousing, uneducated hooligans that we must be pummeled to the ground even when we are sitting?

We are asking that you, as representative of the administration, please refrain from actions that would bring such shame and dishonor upon our campus as has happened at UCs Berkeley and Davis. If the situation we all face in these “tough economic times” cannot be made much better, we would very much like that they not be made that much more worse. We are asking that you can make us proud to be here at UC Santa Cruz, and say that “our chancellor is not our enemy.”

Thank you for your time and consideration.

With sincere respect,

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