Protesters postpone decision on future of encampment until Monday

Occupy Farm
Danielle Lee/File

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After the campus issued a Saturday deadline for occupiers of UC-owned property in Albany to decide whether to stay or leave, protesters responded they would need until Monday to make their decision.

The deadline was issued in a Friday letter authored by Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost George Breslauer and Vice Chancellor of Administration and Finance John Wilton and followed up on during a Thursday meeting between campus administrators and protesters involved in the occupation of Gill Tract.

“If the encampment is voluntarily disbanded, we will commit to include occupation participants in a broad-based discussion about the continuation of urban farming under university supervision on a portion of the tract, as well as any future discussions about the long-term future of the property,” reads the letter.

Protesters informed the campus Saturday they would give their reply at some point Monday. According to event organizer Gopal Dayaneni, protesters need the extra two days because “it takes time to discuss and make a decision all together.”

Campus spokesperson Dan Mogulof said while the possibility of sharing land as a community farm can be discussed in the future, the discussion cannot happen as long as the encampment continues. He added that students and faculty from the College of Natural Resources need to prepare the field for research by mid-May.

“We were very disappointed that (their reply) was not a response to Thursday’s offer,” Mogulof said. “What was made absolutely clear to them is that research can’t coexist with the encampment.”

In one example, Mogulof said that research in which diseased and nondiseased fruit trees were being compared at the farm was damaged near the beginning of the encampment. Keith Gilless, dean of the College of Natural Resources, asked protesters to stop pruning the trees during a visit, when he saw that protesters were removing the diseased branches, according to Mogulof.

One area of active contention between the protesters and the campus administration is flow of water to the land in Albany. Last week, protesters complained that the university had shut off water to the farm, including a fire hydrant located in the middle of the tract. There are two fire hydrants near the farm, one of which is located inside of the farm and another which is located across the street from Ocean View Elementary School.

Although Mogulof said last week that the campus would never turn off a fire hydrant across from an elementary school, he later said on Sunday that he was not aware of the condition of the other fire hydrant.

On Friday, the Albany Fire Department was unable to confirm whether or not the other fire hydrant had been shut off, but protesters reported Sunday that it had been turned back on over the weekend.

“We’re clearly at a fork in the road,” Mogulof said on Friday. “Time is running out, but the door is still certainly open. Nobody wants to see this end with any kind of conflict.”


Adelyn Baxter is the news editor.