Last week a massive General Assembly on the UC Davis campus called a student strike for November 28 on campuses across California. The strike was intended to call attention to police violence in UC, and to highlight student demonstrations against the meeting of the University of California Board of Regents.
The UC Regents were supposed to meet earlier this month at the system’s out-of-the-way Mission Bay campus, but that meeting was cancelled in the face of planned student demonstrations. Today’s rescheduled meeting will take place by teleconference, with regents scattered across the state. UC Davis is one of the meeting’s four physical locations, but as of the weekend only the board’s two student members (one of them non-voting) planned to be present at what has become the new center of resistance to the university’s capricious regulations and reprehensible institutional violence.
In explaining why more regents did not plan to be present at Davis today, university spokesman Pete King said that the regents did not want to “jeopardize” the Davis chancellor’s “pledge to students to keep police presence on campus minimal until the campus … begins to heal.”
This is what UC has come to. The university’s regents feel that a small police presence isn’t enough of a barrier to allow them to sit down in the presence of the system’s students. They have, they say, “no expectation of student violence.” The students of Davis have proven their commitment to nonviolence over and over in recent days, even in the face of egregious violence directed against them. But just a few cops aren’t enough cops to allow the regents to come to their campus and hear their voices without fear.
Meanwhile, on the other side of the country, the Board of Trustees of the City University of New York are shutting down an entire campus building — a huge building — so that they can meet inside. Classes are being cancelled, staff are being placed on leave, a street is being prepared for barricading, all so the CUNY trustees can hold a regularly scheduled meeting.
When the governing bodies of two of the country’s greatest institutions of higher education are literally, physically walling themselves off from the students of those universities, something has gone deeply deeply wrong.