[This is a transcript of remarks delivered at the noon rally at the base of campus.]

My name is Brian Malone and I’m really happy to see all of you today!  On behalf of UAW 2865—the Teaching Assistants union—I’m so glad to see so many of our members, our students, our mentors, and our co-workers out here on this gorgeous day!

Last week, you probably received an email from Chancellor Blumenthal and EVC Kliger about today’s events here at UCSC.  You may remember the email because of the apparently unironic inclusion of the following sentence: “UC Santa Cruz has a long history of passionate participation in the democratic process.”  Alas, if only we could say the same for the UC Santa Cruz Administration…

But I am more interested in another part of this letter, the by-now familiar reference to UCSC’s “Principles of Community”—a reference that seems to appear in every administration statement about student protests.  Well, by bringing up the Principles of Community, the Chancellor and EVC got me thinking–thinking about what kind of community I want to see here at UCSC.  And while the current Principles of Community statement is a fine document in many ways, it’s actually pretty vague about most of the things that I think are crucial for a community like ours.  So, in the next few minutes, I’d like to sketch out some better Principles of Community–principles that we can aim for as we work to re-imagine OUR university.

First, we need to do more thinking about how to make this a community constituted not by economic privilege or social power.  Let’s just agree up front that we cannot be charging $10,000 in tuition to join this community.  You should not have to take on crushing debt to come to the UC.  You should not have to be working full time while you struggle to get your education.  Our university must be affordable.

Equally important is diversity.  We cannot have a community without full inclusion and participation of racial and ethnic minorities.  But let me be clear here: while the UC pats itself on the back for its supposed attention to diversity, OUR university needs to go several steps further.  We need to consider race and ethnicity in admissions again.  We need to expand retention programs.  We need to change the campus climate.  We need an ethnic studies program!  And if someone violates the safety of our community with hate speech, we need to do more than to punish the perpetrator: we need to restructure the institution itself to prevent it from happening again.  Our community must be as diverse as California itself and our students must be safe.

Here are some other principles of community for OUR university:

–Workers, students, and faculty must be given a full democratic share in campus decision-making.  Our university will have true shared governance.

–Teaching must be re-prioritized as a primary focus.  Our university will not cut instruction to fill budget gaps.

–Speaking of budgets, OUR university will be financially accountable and transparent.

–OUR university will restore funding to departments and programs that do not bring in corporate money:  departments like Literature, History, Philosophy, History of Consciousnesss and Languages.

–And finally, OUR university will not deploy administrators and police officers to surveil and intimidate student activists.  Our administrators will not belittle the concerns of student protesters or refer to their protests as a “luxury”–a luxury indeed, might I note, as most protesters here today are paying tens of thousands of dollars for their education.

Of course, maybe outlining these new Principles of Community makes me hopelessly utopian.  Maybe I’ve lost touch with that “reality” that legislators and administrators (and even, sadly, some of our classmates and coworkers) enjoy invoking so much.  Maybe the community I’m asking us to envision is too far away–in space and in time.

But, on the other hand, maybe we’re closer to it than we think.  Look around.  Here we are, thousands of people standing up for public education–surrounded, in California and beyond, by hundreds of thousands more doing exactly the same thing.  This might not yet be the University Community that we want; but as we stand here together today, it’s not so hard to imagine it.

So as we continue this struggle, let’s keep our ideal community in mind.  And let’s remember that today gave us just a glimpse of what it will be like.

Thank you for coming.

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