UCLA Fights Back Budget Cuts Tour

This tour documents places, histories and acts of oppression and resistance on UCLA’s campus.  This information is to preserve the memory of the issues that this movement faces, and also the legacy of resistance that we draw from to go on. To see where these locations exist on UCLA campus: visit this MAP. Read on to learn activists’ analysis on critical meanings of each place.

Murphy Hall: Seat of Administrative Political Power, Liberatory Space of Festival

courtesy of Indybay.org

In addition to being home to various campus-wide administrative offices such as admissions, the financial aid office, the graduate fellowships office, and student accounts, Murphy Hall is where Chancellor Block and UCLA’s upper-level management make executive decisions that affect the entire campus, in particular regarding funding allocations to programs, personnel, and services, along with major departmental “restructurings.” On March 4th, following the campus walkout and rally, approximately three hundred students, workers, and supporters marched up from Bruin Plaza, across north campus, and directly into Murphy, leading a sit-in at the door of the chancellor’s office that lasted approximately five hours. Although the political objective of the sit-in was to get the chancellor to meet with the movement about the budget cuts, the sit-in had the cultural effect of transforming the entire corridor into a space of festival and free expression: students and workers chanted, sang, played music, danced, read poetry, did “guerrilla yoga,” and passed around a bullhorn telling each other stories of how the cuts were affecting them. The sit-in created, as one of the banners of the day read, a “liberatory” space for its participants within the core of administrative political power at UCLA. Students and workers shared their stories of having to pay more for larger and fewer classes, of being undocumented and experiencing institutional racism at the university, of having their majors and foreign languages eliminated, and of having to fight for their jobs and a living wage—all at the same time that executive managers such as Chancellor Block were earning upwards of $400,000 (plus benefits) a year. Although the chancellor never showed up (he told the movement through various assistants that he “didn’t need to give a reason” for refusing to meet), the sit-in lasted until the police issued the final order to disperse, and then one-by-one the students and workers left Murphy, exiting to the cheers of a rally of supporters outside.

Campbell Hall

courtesy of LA Weekly

Campbell Hall landmarks some of the major struggles for access and equality in UCLA history, for which we are apparently still fighting today. Campbell hall now houses ethnic study programs like American Indian Studies and Asian American Studies, as well as the Academic Advancement Program that provides counseling and tutoring to students with minority backgrounds.

These programs had to be fought for. Four decades ago, the African American students could not live or work in Westwood, Mexican flag was humiliated in white fraternity parties, and Asian American students were referred to as “Orientals.” It was not until 1968, African American students got a response to their proposal to start a “black studies” program. But on Jan 17, 1969, two Black Panther Party members – Bunchy Carter and John Huggins were shot to death in Campbell hall.

Courtesy of LA Times

In the 90s, responding to the ending of affirmative action, multiple students movements took place on campus. Demonstration, Sit-in, Occupations that led to arrests. Students have took over Murphy, Royce, and Bunche in these occasions.

We are fighting for the same thing still. Last November, some students took over Campbell and renamed it Carter-Huggins hall to highlight the tuition hike as an issue of racism and limitation of access. The occupation led to the memorializing ceremony this May, that honored the two black panthers as advocates of social justice.

But our access to knowledge is still being threatened.
Ethnic studies, along with other humanities programs, are not profitable in the eyes of the administration. They got severe cuts and are constantly threatened with questionable reorganizations or even elimination. Last year the university was planning on eliminating foreign language departments, and they are still planning for restructuring in the humanities that would take away resources from these departments.

Courtesy of UCLA Newsroom

We want to stress that the students at UCLA have fought and must still fight for our access and our right to knowledge.

Powell Hall

Courtesy of Biochemistry, UCLA

Last year, when the state funding were cut, one of the first things that got cut was library services. In a university that is for education and knowledge transmission, the university did not think of cutting the gym hours (which is more than 100 hours long per week), not slowing down construction project, not rethinking the ridiculously high salary of the sports coaches, but they cut libraries. Libraries, where we read, learn, study, and be an independent learner. Libraries among all things.

The administration attempted to close the art library during the summer last year, but fortunately they failed because of the intervention of indignant students and faculty members.

However, they managed to sabotage our education as soon as the school year started. They took away Night Powell completely, reduced the library hours drastically. They were saying: “No libraries for you on Saturdays. No study for you at night.” We have to ask, what logic persuades our administrators to think that education should be the first to go in a university when money is short?

This year, the library managed to increase its permanent allocation to restore operating hours. It is because we have spoken, it is because we will keep speaking.

Covel Commons (Janss Steps)

Courtesy of fortunafaveat.com

Last year on November 18th and 19th UC Regents met to discuss solutions to the budget crisis. Throughout the first day up to 3,000 students, workers, and faculty from every UC campus showed up to join the discussion. The Regents had no intention of including us. Their solution: raise fees 32%. During the meeting 12 students and 2 union organizers were arrested in peaceful demonstrations inside Covel, while over 1,000 students outside attempted to enter. Police responded by tazing, macing, and beating students (almost entirely students of color). In addition to police barricades, differences and miscommunication between organizers led some activists to physically block the crowd from entering and taking over Covel.

Courtesy of gabrielbur.info

On the following day students gathered in larger numbers to express their outrage. A spontaneous march began at Covel, crossed campus, grew in size from walk outs, and shut down traffic in Wilshire. The march returned to Covel and at the close of the meeting, students linked arms and refused to allow the regents to leave Covel. Sheriffs were called in to use pepper spray and break the line. Students simply reconvened at the drive ways and refused to let Regent cars exit campus. While police formed another riot line, students danced.

Covel is the site one of the greatest moments of struggle for justice in our university, but it is also a reminder of the need for student solidarity in our movement. There is no doubt whatsoever that if students had not been prevented from entering the building by others, that the Regents would have failed to increase fees at that meeting.

Student Activities Center

Courtesy of flickriver.com

The Military Science Department is located at UCLA’s Student Activities Center. It teaches courses like Modern Guerilla Warfare, Leadership Development and Military Planning, Theory of Warfare, Subordinate Development and Army Organization.

Because of the rising costs of tuition, youth from poorer communities are duped into accessing higher education by serving in the military.  GI Bills and Loan Forgiveness programs are used recruit students into the military.

Courtesy of UCLA Today

UCLA plays a role in the military industrial complex. During World War II, UCLA President Sproul established a University War Council and an “Engineering, Science and Management War Training” program in industrial sciences, which trained workers in defense industries.

Today, the Center for Nanoscience Innovation for Defense (CNID), is located at the UCLA Engineering Department. CNID takes innovative research being done by the nanoscience department to be applied to Defense Industry needs. The center is sponsored by two federal agencies: the Defense Advanced Research Project Agency (DARPA) and Defense MicroElectronics Activity (DMEA).


Couresty of wikimedia.org

This is the Ackerman Student Union. This building is a monument to our own alienation. In 2010, this is what a student union means: a place where one can go and buy things and feel terribly alone. One may have had the displeasure of walking through this building and smelling the grease from fast food restaurants while trying to buy an expensive course reader. The affective experience of this building is one of a whirling emptiness, where our relations to other students are mediated by shopping, by commodities. We must take a moment to denaturalize this space. Why is it here? Why is it called a student union? Why is the student union full of commercial enterprises? Does this building reflect our desires for what a student union could be? Is it a space for intellectual curiosity, a space where we can feel the momentum of youth and change each others’ minds? This so-called union produces its inverse, alienation.

Pauley Pavilion

Courtesy of sbnation.com

UCLA uses its high-profile athletics program to recruit students, sell merchandise, enhance its brand and make millions of dollars in ticket revenues from the play of college athletes.  However, that money doesn’t return to the workers and students of UCLA — instead it goes to pay coaches and sports administrators.

Pauley Pavillion is now undergoing an $136 million renovation, the majority of the money donated by private individuals or financed through debt.  Any money donated to the Pauley renovation was earmarked specifically for it — none of that money could go to education. Why not make a madatory 10% of all donations to UCLA be earmarked for a common fund to be spent as workers and students saw fit?

However, administrators also planned on using $25 million dollars in student fees for the renovation, although now, after taking serious heat on the issue, they have reduced it to $10 million.
(http://articles.latimes.com/2010/apr/07/local/la-me-student-funds8-2010apr08).  The other $15 million lies idle and could be immediately returned to students to offset the costs of rising tuition.

The renovations at Pauely are also symptomatic of a larger issue at the UC: the prioritization of construction over education.  Capital projects (construction) including the building of new coffeeshops, overpriced dorms and science buildings are routinely funded by bonds issued by the UC.  These bonds are sold to private investors and these investors are given a guarantee that they will profit on their investment — namely, no matter what, the investors know that the UC can always raise tuition to pay back the bonds.  (See Bob Meister “The Pledged Your Tuition”).  By constructing state of the art facilities, and using Ph.D. students and lecturers to teach, UCLA increases its profile at the same time that those who do most of the teaching receive less money than their tenured counterparts.

Ronald Reagan Hospital

Courtesy of rbbinc.com

On top of the 32% fee increase last year, the Regents have also slashed pensions of its lowest wage workers, cut classes, and overcrowded lectures due to its cost-cutting policies.  Just this September, however, the UC Regents approved an annual total increase of $442,000 to a CEO of the UCLA hospital system.  He now receives $1.3 million dollars every year.  This increase was retroactively awarded, so he received nearly $900,000 for time he worked before his salary was adjusted.  This increase is 33% above market salaries for comparable CEOs, meaning UCLA is paying above and beyond what most hospital execs earn.  On top of that, the CEO can always count on his $450,000 because it is completely exempt from furloughs, while our low-paid staff that works tirelessly and efficiently have their livelihoods threatened by possible furloughs and lay-offs.

Wilshire Center – Bill collection, payroll, labor relations

Courtesy of Panoramnio.com

Wilshire Center is where the money of UCLA goes through – it is where UCLA collect their bills, deal with payroll, as well as where the labor relations locate.

So unfair labor practice – where can we even start.

Workers in November of last year were subjected to unfair cuts in wages, forcing them to have to find additional jobs in order to support their families with limited time and funds to do so. The furlough or layoffs that seems to be ameliorating now has nevertheless proven to us how the university would not even blink to sacrifice the livelihood of the works that sustain the university. So just now, UCLA is practically cutting worker’s wage again with the new pension plan.

UC has historically funded the pension plan of its workers. However, now all the paychecks go out with 7% of their wages taken off to put into the pension plan. In essence, the workers paying for their pension plan means a practical 7% pay cut. The workers have no way but accept it. Is it even legal?

Which brings us to the labor relation. UAW is negotiating it contrast right now, which process was being stalled by the administration. As all other union organizers would know, the university seldom comes to union negotiations with good faith. We get a sense that they don’t consider the workers as respectable members of the community, ignoring the fact that it is the workers who make the university functional.

In our struggle, we have to fight for the workers too. We are subjected to the same disregard and the same exclusion from the decision-making process in our own campus. We demand that workers and students must be able to run our university.


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