A few hundred protesters gather on Sproul for noon rally

Gracie Malley/Staff

Protesters began Tuesday’s strike and Day of Action setting up a home for themselves on the steps of Sproul Plaza.

The psuedo-living room included couches, ornamental rugs and even a bookshelf filled with titles like The Power Elite by C. Wright Mills and The Closing of the American Mind by Allan Bloom.

“The idea is to make this place more like a home,” said UC Berkeley freshman Sara Kei and member of the art committee that was responsible for furnishing the Mario Savio steps. “This is our space — make it livable.”

Along these lines, students from a beginning sculpture class contributed their works to form a sculpture garden of sorts on Sproul. Many passers-by stopped and photographed some of the works such as the “chime haven” — a tree decorated with chimes.

Meanwhile several professors and GSIs held teach-outs throughout the morning. Many classes focused on simply learning about issues facing the campus and society at large. Katie Cantrell, a UC Berkeley alumna gave a lecture on the corporate control of the U.S. food system.

Others organized ad hoc teach-outs of their own on issues as diverse as Venezuelan politics.

Faculty members like UC Berkeley linguistics professor George Lakoff used the opportunity to call his students to action.

“Democracy is at its worst in California right now,” Lakoff said to the teach-out, which was organized by the American Studies Undergraduate Alliance and included members of his class. “You can occupy elections.”

At around noon a few hundred protesters converged on Sproul Plaza and assembled for the rally with the crowd chanting, “No cuts, no fees, education must be free.”

Later in the day protesters plan to march to Berkeley City College and Berkeley High School in an effort to engage a wider audience.