Students Participate in Occupy UCSD

Approximately 100 students gathered on Library Walk for an Occupation Hour protesting Gov. Jerry Brown’s cutbacks to education on Thursday, Oct. 20. The event began with a general assembly to educate and promote awareness about the Occupy Wall Street movement, followed by a march around campus.

“For me it was really important for students to understand the reasons the movement has erupted and the general disenchantment with corporation practices that are occurring,” ethnic studies Ph.D student and co-organizer Alborz Ghandehari said.

Ghandehari and associate professor of philosophy Monte Johnson organized the People’s Assembly rally held in front of Geisel Library.

The 12 p.m. general assembly ran as an organized meeting. Participants were instructed on three hand signals to use to agree, block or show uncertainty at a proposal. Blocks, which immediately kill the proposal, were used sparingly. Thursday’s agenda covered logistics: deciding on a principle of disciplined nonviolence with a possibility of civil disobedience. Johnson mentioned the importance of online communication and participation in the movement, noting that many have class and other responsibilities to attend and would not be physically present at every meeting.

“Nobody is obligated to come to every meeting,” Johnson said.

Participants at the Oct. 20 general assembly reached a consensus to meet seven days a week at noon in front of Geisel Library. According to Johnson, each meeting will have a different moderator and will be used to establish subcommittees and a plan of action to support the Occupy movements and to address problems with higher education.

After the hour and a half meeting, protesters left for a campus march starting in Revelle and ending near Center Hall with the chant: “They say cutbacks, we say fight back!”

After attending Occupy San Diego rallies, Ghandehari and Johnson decided to coordinate action across local college campuses in a collective effort they called “Occupy Higher Education.”

“The Occupy movement is something that really articulates this notion of how the educational system is placing profit before intellectual enrichment of future generations,” Ghandehari said. “It’s unfair that students have this burden and amount of debt they have to pay off. Job prospects are low in this economy and students are terrified that their degrees are going to be useless.”

In addition to the concerns of Occupy Wall Street, the Occupy Higher Education movement emphasizes the effects of Gov. Jerry Brown’s budget cuts to California colleges and universities.

“Higher education is a right and it should not depend on someone’s inability or ability to afford it,” Ghandehari said.
Marshall College freshman Adriana Ochoa said she plans on attending all of the general assemblies held on campus.

“I appreciate that they want to make their own statements, similar to Occupy Wall Street [and] that they’re bringing in [the issue of] budget cuts,” Ochoa said. “My main concern is fighting against budget cuts. As a foster child, I am dependent on scholarships and grants.”

The ‘Occupy’ community at UCSD is in the process of working on their list of demands. According to participant William Johnson, the first demand — reached by consensus by the Occupy San Diego General Assembly on Oct. 20 at the San Diego Civic Center — acknowledges increasing student loan debt as a response to rising tuition and demands a bailout of American students to forgive student loan debt.

Ghandehari cited the Oct. 16 Global Day of Action as representative of a new model of mass civil resistance — referring to the global movement’s spontaneous nature and non-hierarchical aspect. The international effort was marked by ‘Occupy’ demonstrations held in more than 80 countries, including Jordan, Italy and South Korea, in support of Occupy Wall Street.

“It is exciting for our generation that we’re entering a new period of social protest, that we are recognizing our own ability to speak truth to power across the globe,” Ghandehari said.

According to Vice President of External Affairs Samer Naji, despite the support of many councilmembers, A.S. Council has not passed a resolution to endorse the occupation on campus.

“The external office supports it — we have been working with it and are in support of it,” Naji said.

Campus police did not take any precautions for Thursday’s rally, though three officers were assigned to monitor the event, UCPD spokesperson Rex Graham said in an email.

The A.S. External Office is also working with the campus Socialist Club to organize a Nov. 9 day of action.

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