Teach-In Walks Out

The Feb. 24 Price Center protest began with a press conference held by the BSU, the student organization that declared campus climate to be in a “state of emergency” last Friday. The BSU has addressed the “toxic” environment with a rally and a list of 32 demands. BSU Chair David Ritcherson called for the UCSD chancellor cabinet to respond to the organization’s demands by March 4 — the same day as a systemwide protest against limited accessibility to higher education — with a “thorough, written timeline for immediate action.”

Press-conference speakers included history professor Daniel Widener, who applauded A.S. President Utsav Gupta for his recent decision to freeze funding for all 33 student media organizations, then asked administrators to disregard the current budget crisis in favor of meeting all the BSU’s demands.

“We will not allow any discussions of the budget crisis to affect discussions of our demands,” Widener said.

After the press conference ended at 11:30 a.m., participants marched from Library Walk to the official teach-in, scheduled to be held at the Price Center East Ballroom. The crowd — which included community members, as well as students from Cal State San Bernandino, San Diego State and the University of Southern California — chanted slogans such as “Real Pain, Real Action”.

Following speeches by theater professor Nadine George and LGBT Center director Shaun Travers, A.S. Associate Vice President of Diversity Affairs Jasmine Phillips and BSU Vice Chair Fnann Keflezighi called for the attendees to walk out and attend a counter teach-in instead.

“If you truly care about our university, if you want to stand in solidarity, you will join me in walking out of this teach-in and joining us at our teach-in,” Keflezighi said.

The majority of participants left the room and convened at the stairs above the Triton statue.

Speakers at the counter teach-in included Cross-Cultural Center director Edwina Welch. She stressed that the protests were not about individual acts of racism, but an institutional problem.

“You’ve felt racism if you’ve gone down Library Walk and not been handed flyers, if you’ve sat in class and nobody’s sat by you,” she said. “What gets lost is the day-to-day macro and micro aggression on campus.”

Literature professor Daniel Childs agreed with Welch, condemning the system instead of individuals.

“This is a white-supremacist, racist, classist, misogynist institution,” he said.

Eleanor Roosevelt College junior Niko Arranz, a student protestor, said the counter teach-in was more powerful than the one the administration had planned.

“The first teach-in was a joke,” he said. “I was falling asleep because it wasn’t relevant.”

Keflezighi said she created the counter teach-in because she wanted to educate the community according to BSU’s own terms.

“We were angry when we weren’t asked to be part of the [teach-in] planning process,” she said.

Vice Chancellor of Student Life Penny Rue responded positively to the counter teach-in.

“I’m delighted that our students found the right platform to express themselves today,” she said.

She said it was too soon to know if all of the demands of the BSU will be met.

Readers can contact Angela Chen at [email protected].

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