UCSD Protesters Demonstrate Against Janet “NapolitaNO”

UCSD Protesters Demonstrate Against Janet NapolitaNO

Napolitano_Alwin

Students protested in front of Geisel Library last Monday in light of former Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano’s start of term as UC president

UCSD students rallied by “Silent Tree” on Library Walk to protest Janet Napolitano’s appointment as president of the UC system on Monday, Sept. 30.

The protest began with a banner drop on Geisel with a sign that read “No to NapolitaNO” on the new president’s first day in office. Maintenance workers joined the students to speak about their experiences working in the UC system.

A representative of the student coalition known as the Strike Committee, Juan Campos, said that Napolitano was responsible for the recent pay cuts that campus maintenance workers face.

Another common concern with Napolitano’s appointment was her involvement in record-breaking undocumented immigrant deportations during her term as U.S. State Secretary of Homeland Security; in 2012 alone, the department was responsible for the deportation of over 400,000 people.

In 2010, during Napolitano’s term, UCSD graduate student Mark Farrales was forced to undergo a series of deportation trials and hearings for living in the country illegally, following the death of his illegal immigrant father. He was later granted a year’s reprieve to obtain citizenship.

“We’re protesting Janet Napolitano’s appointment but also the cuts to transportation on campus, the pay decrease for workers and the pay increase for executives to show that even though we’re all fighting our individual battles, it’s all interconnected,” Campos said. “We believe Napolitano took a job she was unqualified for having no background in education.”

Campos also stated that the Strike Committee would have demonstrations regarding transportation issues and Napolitano’s appointment throughout the quarter while partnering with other student organizations.

Maintenance workers have been protesting at UCSD for higher wages and better pensions with the most recent demonstration taking place last Tuesday, Sept. 24.

Napolitano, who took over after Mark Yudof’s resignation on Sept. 30, met with Student Regent Cinthia Flores, Student Regent-designate Sadia Saifuddin, and 10 other designated students on Oct. 1 to discuss their concerns.

A press release from the University of California Office of the President stated that the primary purpose of the meeting was to discuss UC experiences for both undocumented students and students of color.

“The meeting provided an opportunity for the president to listen, gain a first-hand understanding of issues important to these students and lay the groundwork for cooperation and mutual respect going forward,” the statement read.

According to the release, Napolitano will assign staff members to explore the issues the students raised.

The students are not the only group to voice their concerns over Napolitano’s appointment. State Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez, who represents California’s 80th district that encompasses most of south San Diego County, penned an open letter on Sept. 30 to the new president in conjunction with other assembly members and state senators.

The letter focuses on the maintenance workers that make up the majority of UC’s service department.

“Service workers are the only ones that have been singled out for a wage freeze. These women and men are already the lowest-paid UC employees,” the letter read. “Whatever the reason, whatever the recent history, singling out the University’s largest population of minority workers for the harshest treatment at the bargaining table sends a deeply disturbing message.”

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