Right now I’m sitting in Brooklyn, at Larry’s kitchen table, trying to follow what’s been happening today at my Alma Mater and employer, UC Berkeley. Earlier, students tried to set up an encampment outside Sproul Hall, the main administration building. Riot police moved in to break up the tents:
Then there was this sickening scene of UCPD beating students who were just standing there with no provocation:
Both the Daily Cal and Cal TV have been doing a pretty good job covering the protests. #occupycal is also a trending topic on Twitter right now, and major media outlets are paying attention. On a night when Penn State students are demonstrating in support of Joe Paterno, who was fired for failing to do anything about his former defensive coordinator sexually abusing young boys. That’s some perspective.
Here’s some more. Students are being asked to pay more in tuition and fees again. I thought the fee hikes when I was in school (2000-2005) were excessive, but now it’s just ridiculous. Especially when you look at the compensation of the UC top brass. We have more and more executive administrators making very healthy paychecks, when students are being squeeze dry and services are disappearing because staff is being laid off or leaving for greener pastures. (Disclosure: I was laid off and then brought back on part time because of budget constraints. The library I work in went from being open M-F 9-5, to T-F 11-5 due to our decimated budget.) The campus is not a happy place right now. Everybody is uneasy, but that doesn’t excuse or explain the use of force by the police today.
I don’t want to act like there were halcyon days to return to, but I also hope that the campus community can repair these wounds. The administration will have to go a long ways to establish trust with students, faculty (one of whom was arrested today), and staff. We are a public university whose mission is to educate and generate new knowledge for society. Yes, we need to be able to afford it, but we also need to have compassion. Right now, I’m not feeling that.
Be safe tonight Berkeley. I’ll be glued to Twitter.