University of California at Santa Cruz student protesters plan to close the campus and set up an alternative university Thursday as part of a day-long protest of rising fees and declining services throughout the UC system.
"We will put forward a Tent University, an alternative vision of education to counter the agendas imposed by the UC Regents and other corporate elites," protesters said in a release harkening back to the 1960s.
"This alternative Free University will include outdoor classes, educational workshops, music, poetry, speeches, food, world cafe discussion, and a space to have conversations about ways forward. The Tent University will be an open setting at the base of campus for students, teachers, and community members to peacefully teach and learn together."
The action is part of a national movement spearheaded by the groups Occupy Education and Occupy Education California. The protests will continue on March 5 in Sacramento.
"This is a call to work together, but it is up to each school and organization to determine what local and regional actions—such as strikes, walkouts, occupations, marches, etc.—they will take to say no to business as usual," the groups say on their Facebook pages.
We have the momentum, the numbers, and the determination to win. Education is not for sale. Let’s take back our schools. Let's make history."
The protests are scheduled to begin at 4:30 a.m. and continue through the day.
Chancellor George Blumenthal and Provost Allison Galloway put out a release criticizing the protests.
"We respect that students, instructors, and staff know more about the impact of budget cuts than anyone else, as they have borne the impact of fee hikes, course reductions, and layoffs. We wholeheartedly support advocacy in support of education. However, we take issue with a protest that simultaneously denies students access to those classes for which they have paid."
They also asked students to voice their concerns in Sacramento March 5, "to the audience that most needs to hear the call for greater state investment in public higher education."
Campus officials have set up a website to inform staff and students about transportation issues and developments throughout the day.
They also ask people to check these sources for more information:
• Recording information on the campus's communications hotline, 459-INFO (831-459-4636).
• Relaying information on a regular basis to KZSC Radio (88.1 FM) for broadcast.
• Sharing information via Twitter (twitter.com/ucsc).