Occupation of campus building follows FSM rally on Sproul for 50th anniversary

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Michael Drummond/Senior Staff

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In an event to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Free Speech Movement, FSM veterans rallied at noon in front of Sproul Hall on Wednesday.

They were joined by a number of groups in solidarity with the spirit of the FSM, including student organizations Cal Progressive Coalition, Fossil Free UC and Students for Engaged and Active Learning.

After the rally, about 10 to 15 people occupied the Architects and Engineers building at around 1 p.m. to protest a number of campus capital projects, calling for a halt to the development at the Gill Tract as well as a meeting with Chancellor Nicholas Dirks, among other demands.

The students disbanded at about 7 p.m. when two of their demands — the release of documents pertaining to the Gill Tract development and a scheduled meeting with the chancellor — were met. The meeting is scheduled for Nov. 14, and there will be weekly check-ins between student representatives and administration in the meantime. Campus spokesperson Dan Mogulof said the campus preferred “dialogue and discussion,” and moving away from “a language of demands.”

Development is slated for land historically part of the Gill Tract, which is a university-owned plot in Albany.

At the rally, speakers — including FSM veterans Jack Weinberg and Jackie Goldberg, among others — spoke on a range of topics such as the plight of Hong Kong protesters, wealth inequality, climate change and racial profiling. Speakers repeated Mario Savio’s famous words, “put your bodies upon the gears,” which he spoke in front of Sproul Hall in December 1964.

Lynne Savio, who was married to Mario Savio, said Wednesday was a glorious moment and if Mario Savio were present, he would be delighted that students are using the rights they fought for 50 years ago.

“What I want people to take away is that the powers that be try to make you feel helpless and hopeless, don’t believe it,” Savio said. “If we talk to each other, unite for a cause … We will prevail.”

Savio said the FSM veterans received tremendous support from the administration in organizing the celebration, and she hopes it will continue to support student rights.

Caitlin Quinn, ASUC external affairs vice president, told the crowd that UC Berkeley students should build coalitions to make themselves heard by the administration.

“Fifty years may have gone by, but our administration continues to dismiss many of our concerns,” Quinn said. “We have the freedom to speak, but are they listening?”

Gar Smith, a 70-year-old FSM veteran, said when he was hauled down the marble stairs for protesting during the movement, he went limp and did not cooperate with authorities.

“I refused to conspire in my own arrest,” Smith said, who added that he is happy to see that “robust” political activity at UC Berkeley has continued and cited the recent Israeli-Palestinian protests and counterprotests.

Several panel discussions featuring campus professors, FSM veterans and other speakers took place after the rally as part of the celebration. Panels included a discussion on campus activism, the university’s trajectory and its increasing reliance on private funding.

Maggie Downey, a UC Berkeley graduate student and spokesperson for the Cal Progressive Coalition, said that like the FSM veterans, the coalition has also been silenced by the university.

The coalition said in a press release that its members marched today to clarify that the university should not “congratulate” itself on the FSM.

“(It is) a time to recognize that each of the major student struggles over the past 50 years made gains in spite of repression by the university,” the release states.

UC Berkeley junior Michelle Yang, who passed by the rally, agreed that the university can do more to support students’ freedom of speech but felt that its participation in organizing the celebration was important.

“(The FSM) is really what makes us unique,” Yang said. “It’s a positive thing (that the university) is trying to celebrate.”

Contact Suhauna Hussain at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter @suhaunah.

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  • Guest

    Dan, you were calling for: “a governmental mandate prescribing a monthly injection in school”– In other words, forced sterilization of minority high school students. Here’s the link to your letter:

    http://www.sfgate.com/politics/article/Will-Juno-influencing-California-s-teen-3283327.php

    I’m going to continue to post this reminder on every Daily Cal thread where you make troll-like comments, to give the readers more context that will help them interpret where you are coming from.

  • Dan Spitzer

    Gar Smith, like some FSM participants, is your quintessential hypocrite. Smith, who was a member of the FSM board when I last heard, openly supported the shouting down of Benjamin Netanyahu when the Israeli PM spoke in Atlanta. So much for free speech.
    Many FSM participants, to their credit, support free speech whether they agree with it or not. Others, such as Mr. Smith and in the past, Bettina Apetheker, at least when she was a member of the Communist Party, advocated freedom of expression only when they agreed with it.
    As for those who engaged in the inane sit-in at the Architecture and Engineers building, this was typical Berkeley campus “Much Dogdoo About Nothing.” Those involved should be characterized with the following: “Look at me! I’m an Activist! Mommy and Daddy didn’t give me enough attention. So look at me-I’m a self-seeking ACTIVIST!”

    • Pixilicious

      Without student activism, you’d probably be on your way to Vietnam right about now.

      Before student activism, dorms were entirely segregated by gender, with “gentlemen callers” to women’s dorms asked to leave by 10pm. Dorm doors were also required to be left open when mixed genders were in the same room and one foot of each inhabitant had to be kept on the floor…and, yes, they did enforce such things.

      Before student activism, students had no say in the functioning of the university and the administration could do pretty much anything it wanted, any time it wanted.

      The point is that the student activism you turn your snotty little nose up at has led the way for change in our society and has made life better for you and your ilk.

      You’re welcome, you ignorant snot.

      • Dan Spitzer

        Pixilicious, did you even bother to read what I said? It doesn’t seem like it.
        I praised many of the FSM participants, but criticized two of them for engaging in hypocritical suppression of free expression. Do you, “Puxilicious,” fail to see the gross hypocrisy in people like Gar Smith or Bettina Apetheker who are prominent members of FSM, an important organization extolling the virtues of free speech yet who nonetheless support the suppression of that expression when it doesn’t jibe with their biases?

        And btw, if you read my rejoinder you would be aware that at no point did I decry student activism in general. Moreover, in the course of earning a Ph.D., I was personally involved in campus activism (including free expression) on the left for years. This includes advocacy of many of the issues you cite, including deep involvement in anti-Vietnam War activism along with pro-Civil Rights actions .

        However, there is nothing that hurts activism more than that which involves superfluous actions on issues that matter little as these acts alienate students or make them skeptical of more important actions. If you don’t understand this, you fail to comprehend when and what will potentially rally support for the more substantial causes as well as that which will alienate or deplete student willingness to think of participating in such…

        • Wait. Dan Spitzer — you’re the same guy who wrote a letter to the
          editor of the SF Chronicle saying that minority K12 high school students
          should be administered mandatory birth control injections before being
          allowed to attend school?

  • Nunya Beeswax

    FSM veterans = superannuated relics yearning for a vanished past that never really existed.

    • Sorry, but your comment really means nothing at all, if you don’t have the guts to identify yourself.

      • Dan Spitzer

        ‘Course, this could apply to your pals at SJP and MSA who almost never exercise the ethics to use their own names. On second thought, if I was a member of those pathetic organizations and wrote the untruths and drivel they so often do on this site, I might not wish to embarrass myself either by using my real name.
        On the other hand, Riley, you apparently have no qualms embarrassing yourself regularly by attaching what one takes is your real name to the infantile tantrums you excrete so consistently on the DC commentary site…

        • Guest

          Ah, hah! Gotcha now Dan. So now the world knows that *you* are “Nunya Beeswax”.

          • Nunya Beeswax

            Try again. We’re separate people; for one thing, Dan’s Jewish and I’m not.

      • Nunya Beeswax

        O, irony.