Tuition hike protesters vote not to occupy Wheeler Hall during break

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Ariel D. Hayat/File

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Update 11/30/2014: This article has been updated to reflect information about a solidarity occupation in Wheeler Hall and a nearby tree over Thanksgiving break.

The Open UC, the group that has occupied Wheeler Hall for seven consecutive days to protest tuition hikes, held a general assembly meeting in Wheeler Auditorium on Tuesday evening to discuss plans over Thanksgiving break and the movement’s next steps.

After prolonged discussion, nearly 50 people in attendance voted to release a statement that says, “We, the Open UC at Berkeley, no longer feel the need to inhabit the Wheeler Commons at all times in order to assert our right to this space, this campus and this public institution. See you Monday!”

The group also voted to clarify that whether to stay or leave would be an individual decision and that the actions of those who decide to stay in Wheeler during the break would not be interpreted as being part of the movement.

Protesters occupied Wheeler Hall beginning Nov. 19 after a committee of the UC Board of Regents voted to move forward with a tuition increase policy of up to 5 percent tuition increases annually for five years, unless the state intervenes with additional funding.

Student protesters participated in a rally and walkout Monday. Joined by UC Berkeley faculty members and community members, the crowd of more than 1,000 protesters at its peak marched through the city and campus.

The group voted at a previous general assembly meeting to rally Dec. 2, the 50th anniversary of the Free Speech Movement and in particular the day that 800 students moved into Sproul Hall after a rally. At Tuesday’s meeting, the group decided to collaborate with the Cal Progressive Coalition to plan the rally and organized groups to plan over the break.

“If the thousand people who showed up (Monday) was any indication of how many people are going to show up for the 50th anniversary of the Free Speech Movement, I think we could fill Sproul,” said UC Berkeley student Vanessa Raditz.

On Monday evening, the Cal Progressive Coalition tweeted about forming a human chain around California Hall, an administrative building, at 8 a.m. The demonstration, however, was cancelled due to protests in Oakland against a grand jury’s decision to not indict Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson in the fatal shooting of Michael Brown.

During Thanksgiving break, several individuals — some students and some not — have continued to occupy Wheeler Hall in solidarity with the tuition hike protests, as well as the protests in Ferguson, Missouri and efforts to repatriate the remains of indigenous people in Kroeber Hall.

The solidarity protest has also been expanded to a tree outside of Wheeler Hall, laden with tarps and surrounded by signs, one of which reads “Thanksgiving: thanks for killing my people.”

Senior staff writer Melissa Wen contributed to this report.

 

Contact Amy Jiang at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter @ajiang_dc.