Not a Headline from the 60s: Students continue to occupy building at UC [Davis–woops] Santa Cruz

Part of me wants to be depressed because the UC officials could really care only a smidge less about this occupation:

Students have been occupying the Graduate Student Commons at the University of California at Santa Cruz for a week now, protesting deep budget cuts being carried out at public colleges and universities in California. University officials have to date expressed concern about the situation but have not attempted to remove the protesters, The Santa Cruz Sentinel reported. A statement on the protest Web site, Occupy California, says: “We are occupying this building at the University of California, Santa Cruz, because the current situation has become untenable. Across the state, people are losing their jobs and getting evicted, while social services are slashed. California’s leaders from state officials to university presidents have demonstrated how they will deal with this crisis: everything and everyone is subordinated to the budget. They insulate themselves from the consequences of their own fiscal mismanagement, while those who can least afford it are left shouldering the burden. Every solution on offer only accelerates the decay of the State of California. It remains for the people to seize what is theirs.”

3 comments

  1. That’s UC Santa Cruz, not UC Davis, right?

    It gets considerably worse. I’ve spent some time reading their materials and walking by/around the “occupation” site, and it really seems more like a social clique doing some sort of odd historical reenactment than politics. There are Situationist slogans, some verbatim, others clearly derivative. There are long manifestos that mirror the style and concerns of, but are worse than and add nothing to, Report on the Construction of Situations. Throughout is a lack of understanding of the content of Situationist writing and strategy, instead fetishizing superficial, stylistic elements. The Situationists obviously understood the importance of grounding oneself in the present time and place, discovering strategies to construct and change situations. They were against the ossified, 1920s-Soviet-looking approach of the institutional Communist parties. Today’s protesters seem to be more that ossified backwards-looking Official Communism than they are Situationists; historical reenactment of a social/artistic scene from 40 years ago on another continent is not the way to engage anyone in any political project.

    And the place they chose to occupy is one of the few actual communal spaces on campus, which is used for nothing official, and which the UC administration assuredly does not care about. That’s why they’re still occupying it, because really nobody cares about a relatively small space filled with ancient furniture, used for nothing except a study/relaxation space for grad students, who presumably will now just use the library instead.

    If I didn’t know via friends-of-friends that some of the students appear to be sincere, I would suspect they were agents provocateurs, taking a situation in which there is building dissent against the state, the UC system, and at the very least certain features of capitalism, and defusing it by staging a ridiculously stereotyped, and easily ridiculed, protest, in effect “occupying” the political space in a way that makes it harder for anything that might be actually threatening to emerge.

    1. Oops…thanks for that. I was just on the phone talking to someone from Davis when I was posting that… Your points are well taken, though I’ll try to be more positive about it, though I did forget to note what you described here, namely that the space they took up didn’t even have any administrative offices. But then again, it’s not even the direct fault isn’t even the local administration, but further up the line. Let’s hope for a spark somewhere to get something more than myopia going in this state…

      1. Yeah, I suppose I should be more positive, but there’s a certain sort of upper-middle-class, MacBook-toting, “protest-as-a-hobby” sort of student activist that really rankles. It doesn’t help that I know who some of these people are, and they’re basically fratboys who happened to choose academic Marxism as their frat.

        But Levi over at larvalsubjects already wrote more of a polemic about that subject than I could, so I’ll just point to comment #7 here.

        In any case, the grad student association managed to convince the occupiers to leave today, though they seem to have left a bunch of damage for some reason.

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