Grad Strike Letter of Support

Updated: Jul 13, 2020

We, the College Democrats of UC Santa Cruz, stand in full and unequivocal solidarity with both the graduate student wildcat strikers and the undergraduate People’s Coalition. The University of California has demonstrated that it prioritizes its power and profits over the safety and wellbeing of the students, faculty and workers that make it run.

This movement for a COLA is unprecedented. It has spread throughout the UC system, sparking a full strike in UC Santa Barbara and a grading strike in UC Davis and UC San Diego. UC Los Angeles, UC Berkeley, UC Irvine and UC Riverside are organizing to strike as well. This movement is poised to spread beyond the UC to universities across the country.

This university rests on the laurels of its distant progressive past and co-opts the radical history of student and labor organizing. It plasters the names of heroes like Angela Davis and Huey P. Newton on its buildings and promotional materials, which serves as an insult to their memory and their activism.

The university has fired roughly 80 wildcat strikers for withholding grades. Around a dozen are international students whose immigration status is tied to their employment and are being threatened with deportation. This is unacceptable. This administration has no right to fire workers demanding better wages. We demand their immediate reinstatement with back pay.

The University of California is gaslighting us when they tell us there is no money for a COLA. In 2017, an audit revealed a $175 million secret slush fund operated by President Napolitano. Chancellor Larive is paid $425,000 a year plus $6700 a month in a housing stipend to live off-campus. Some coaches are paid millions per year. Almost every police officer has a six-figure salary. There is more than enough to pay all of the workers a fair wage, but not if the regents and administrators are lining their pockets. We demand a full, independent audit of the UC’s finances, a maximum wage for administrators and reform to the UC Regents system, including more representation for students, faculty and workers, with full voting rights.

We have witnessed police violence directed at peaceful protestors. We have seen limbs broken, faces bloodied, bodies slammed into concrete. Over 17 people have been arrested. The police brandish batons, pistols and rifles. The university has spent over $5.7 million since the beginning of February on hundreds of cops from all over the state, from Alameda County to Irvine. These police officers are given overtime and put up in single hotel rooms. All of this is paid for out of the pockets of the very students they are encouraged to brutalize. Enough is enough. We demand cops off campus and the immediate cancellation of suspensions and other penalties placed on arrested students, as well as compensation for their medical and mental health care.

EVC Lori Kletzer has refused to commit to expelling ICE from campus. The current president of the UC, Janet Napolitano, served as Secretary of Homeland Security under President Obama and oversaw the deportations of millions of undocumented people. This university has denied Undocu Collective a space in the ARCenter. The administration has continually stonewalled and insulted undocumented students, refusing to listen to their legitimate grievances. We demand ICE off campus, justice for undocumented students and the satisfaction of all of the Undocu Collective’s demands.

This university is built on the traditional land of the Uypi Tribe of the Awaswas Nation, and continues to monetarily benefit from the desecration and destruction of indigenous land and culture. The University of California contributes a plurality of the funding to the Thirty Meter Telescope on Mauna Kea in Hawaii. We demand divestment from the TMT project and reparations to the Uypi Tribe.

Our campus is inaccessible for disabled students, and the Disability Resource Center creates more burdens on disabled students with waiting periods, bureaucratic paperwork, and exorbitant fees and penalties for students with disabilities, going so far as to ticket students with disability placards and parking permits. We demand justice for students with disabilities and the enforcement of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

UC Santa Cruz has the highest food and housing insecurity of all the UC’s. We stand with the Snail Movement and their efforts to create a safe space for students to sleep in their cars. Over 700 beds are empty while students are forced into triples that were previously doubles, and doubles that were previously singles. The university has continually increased enrollment beyond what is reasonable, against the wishes of the local community. This exacerbates the housing crisis and contributes to the underfunding of support programs. We demand more food pantries, free and safe parking for houseless students, the elimination or reduction of housing and food costs on campus, a stipend for off-campus housing, enrollment and tuition freezes, the cancellation of the cohort tuition hike and an increase in funding to Slug Support programs such as Swipes for Slugs.

This strike will not end as long as the administration refuses to have substantive dialogue with the UAW, the COLA wildcat strikers and the People’s Coalition. This bureaucratic stonewalling only escalates the conflict and benefits no one. We demand that the UC leadership come to the table and negotiate in good faith.

This movement is not just about a COLA for grad students. It is about ensuring a safe, just, healthy and secure campus for all who inhabit it. It is about reversing decades of privatization and making this public university a people’s university.

We will no longer sit idly by as the administration terrorizes and antagonizes the workers that make the UC run.

We stand with the strikers and the hundreds of undergraduates who have put their careers and bodies at risk to stand up for what is right.

Collectively, we are more powerful than the police and the administration put together.

We are many and they are few.

Which side are you on?

Solidarity Forever, The College Democrats of UC Santa Cruz

(Special thanks to Isaiah Berke, at-large executive board member, for writing our letter of support)

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