Occupy Cal protest returns with library sit-in

January 21, 2012 1:38:13 PM PST
Occupy demonstrators were back on the UC Berkeley campus Thursday but this time, not at a park, inside a library.

Just after 5 p.m., maybe 40 demonstrators were inside the anthropology library. They had been inside the library for a couple hours, concerned about recent cuts to the library and others on campus. They vowed to stay even though the library itself officially closed at 5 p.m.

After a holiday hiatus, Occupy Cal is back with the sit-in at the anthropology library in Kroeber Hall. The demonstrators targeted the library because they say it represents what is wrong with the way the UC System is funded, especially when it comes to libraries.

"There is part-time librarians, so it's part-time open," professor Laura Naders said. "These are students that are paying tuition that's increased every year."

Faculty member Brian Barsky was worried about what campus police might do if the demonstrators do not leave at closing time.

"That does sound like a recipe for a confrontation. If there's a closure time and the protestors are indicating that they don't want to leave at that time, then what are we going to have happen?" he asked.

Earlier, the Occupy forces held a general assembly, a novelty to some students who have not seen this for a while.

"It is a little bit distracting for a lot of the students, but they're also just trying to get their message out and that's what Berkeley's about, to try to be open and diverse," student Michelle Angeli said.

The renewed protests at Berkeley coincide with larger demonstrations at the regents meeting at UC Riverside. There, UC President Mark Yudof stunned some by saying he would study a student-conceived plan to eliminate tuition for students while they are in school. In return, they would promise to pay 5 percent of their annual salary back to the university for 20 years after graduation.

A graduate who makes $50,000 per year would pay a total of $50,000 over 20 years, about the same as a current UC student pays now over 4 years.

"I mean, I think it would benefit a lot of people, but then you never know what's going to happen in 20 years," student one student said.

A university representative spoke with demonstrators saying the cutbacks are due to the fact the library system at UC Berkeley has lost the equivalent of 75 full-time positions in the past couple of years.

There has been no sign of campus police and one UC representative said there was no plan to bring them in any time soon and no plan to confront the demonstrators as long as things remained peaceful.