March 4th UCSD- Hundreds Gathered, Blocked Roads, Tons More “bullshit”   Leave a comment

Thousands gather in front of Geisel Library to protest fee hikes, racism, and the UC Regents’ elitist priorities

The morning started off quietly enough because events were still building momentum and were scattered. BSU and MECHA leaders met with the administration while around 200 supporters gathered around the building, having speakers rally the crowd. This was the core BSU alliance, but they have collected a lot of diversity within the movement.

When the leaders addressed the crowd saying they would continue to meet with the administration and make a statement later, supporters made their way over to Price Center where a more officially sanctioned press conference was being held, mostly by faculty, with much more synthetic language. The press conference was rather boring, just people reading statements, lacked the energy of the rest of the events. A very large crowd was gathering around Gilman parking structure, the biggest parking structure and one of the busiest campus intersections, so a lot of people left the press conference to join.

A creative sign slamming the UC Regents that’s become a feature of today’s protests

The Gilman parking structure group grew larger and larger as their arranged 11:30 time came closer, reaching over 500 by the time they started marching. Various chants got fired up while people held eye catching signs and noisemakers before the crowd went mobile. The marchers marched on the sidewalk of Gilman Dr. in a 50 yard loop, flooding crosswalks and stifling traffic as the continuous loop disallowed cars to go through. After a couple loops, one section of the loop decided to sit in the middle of the street, not without prodding to keep moving from others, but at this point, traffic had completely stopped. Campus busses and shuttles as well as personal vehicles just stacked up, unable to move and unable to do anything about it.

Demonstrators march around the Gilman parking structure, inhibiting traffic

The way this was settled was by the whole crowd deciding to flood the actual street, keeping traffic stopped, piling bodies from curb to curb, making their way towards Library Walk and shouting various chants along the way to go along with the tuba, drums, steel pipes, and other percussion. The crowd snowballed as they marched down the street, reaching over 1000 by the time they convened back to pedestrian walkways and around the administration building. The march to Geisel saw the crowd balloon to over 2000 by the time they stopped in front of the library for celebration and words of inspiration.

Demonstrators flood the streets completely stopping traffic for half an hour

The focus of today’s protest was not the “Cookout” fallout or other discrimination-related events. Today was about the UC Regents, the 32% fee increases, job cuts, lack of fiscal transparency, and greedy priorities. There was a degree of disorganization for a couple hours until everyone who was demonstrating for anything collected in front of Geisel. There don’t seem to be any more speakers at this time, but they’re playing upbeat music and continuing chants of “Whose University? Our University!”

The BSU rally at the Chancellor’s complex, the press conference, and the Gilman march were quite separate and uncoordinated to start the day. When the BSU supporters joined the other events, their leaders were still meeting with Chancellor Fox and her administration, and to be honest, this left them somewhat headless. People took different paths to different events, there was no amplified sound until the Gilman march had marched for the better part of 45 minutes to Geisel. Not that speakers are necessary, the naked voices and percussion were good, but for coordination purposes, I didn’t recognize a sense of collective direction. This was all solved when the crowd arrived at Geisel, probably close to 1000 strong. Speakers gave rousing accounts of recent events as well as the UC Regents’ “despotism”.

Though the theme of this whole March 4th is “Whose University? Our University!”, claiming the campus and its resources for the public, not just students, not just faculty, not just workers, but everyone, the tone was not one I’d want to take children too. The first speaker established the theme that everything done by everyone that wasn’t there today was “bullshit!” and I heard that word at least fifty times today. There’s plenty of kids here, custodial and cafeteria workers who are also fighting the UC Regents financial decisions, bringing along their children who are hearing worse language than in any rated R movie. This IS “OUR University”, but while that’s the message, the message should be accessible to all.

Overall an exciting day so far. Lots of energy, by the time everyone assembled at Geisel, lots of cohesion, seems like a major victory for all protesters.


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