Chants demanding the reinstatement of Ivonne del Valle echoed throughout Sproul Plaza Thursday as protestors blockaded Sather Gate.
Del Valle, a former associate professor of colonial studies in the department of Spanish and Portuguese, has been on leave since 2019 according to the campaign website advocating for her reinstatement.
The protest, which ultimately consisted of around 100 attendees, follows continued calls to reinstate del Valle.
Protestors first gathered near the steps of Sproul Hall, where graduate student Alejandra Decker, among other speakers, alleged del Valle was “discriminated against” by campus when reports she had filed regarding concerns of harassment were allegedly ignored by administration.
In a prior statement to The Daily Californian, campus denied allegations of retaliatory behavior against del Valle.
Campus spokesperson Janet Gilmore noted in the statement that campus is “committed” to dealing with disciplinary processes “fairly and effectively.”
Organizers read aloud a 2021 letter signed by 10 faculty in the department of Spanish & Portuguese and two emeritus professors on del Valle’s behalf.
Subsequently, the crowd read testimonials written by del Valle’s former students who described the impact del Valle had on their academic and professional careers.
Following the readings, the group marched to Sather Gate where the blockade prohibited movement through the gate.
For fourth-year undergraduate political science student Ivan Villanueva, the blockade symbolized a “picket line.”
“It takes a lot of courage to organize and mobilize people to [strike],” Villanueva said. “It’s inconveniencing people … and the people who attempted a more physical attempt to cross the gate, to me that was almost an insult because we were very explicit on what the situation was and why we were doing this to raise awareness.”
Carlos Macías, an assistant professor of Spanish not currently affiliated with campus, also attended the protest to represent graduate student alumni. Del Valle was his graduate adviser and dissertation director while Macías was on campus.
Macías said del Valle’s suspension came as a “shock” to him, as he considered her a “brilliant professor” and “great researcher.”
“This is beyond Professor del Valle, this is a systemic issue at the university level,” Macías said. “Students and faculty of Mexican origin are not being treated with respect … there’s a contradiction because the university wants to become a Hispanic-Serving Institution.”
Ultimately for Villanueva, the turnout at the protest made him feel “motivated.”
Similarly, Macías said that he felt “empowered” when witnessing the support present from undergraduate and graduate students. One of the protest’s main speakers and Ph.D. candidate in comparative literature Christián González noted the importance of seeing underrepresented groups in the protest.
“I was just so filled with joy that there were so many Black and Brown marginalized faces out there coming together to support not only Ivonne, but what Ivonne represents,” González said “We have to keep constantly fighting to reaffirm our rights to a public institution like UC Berkeley.”
Protestors plan to reconvene on Sproul Plaza Sept. 25 to continue calls for reinstatement.