Almost exactly a year after the occupation of Wheeler Hall, UC Berkeley students chalked messages and slogans all over the campus. This immediately followed the UC Regents’ meeting at UCSF-Mission Bay 2 days before at which 13 students were wrongfully arrested and UCIPD cop Jared Kemper pulled a gun on unarmed students and workers, seemingly unprovoked. The significance of chalking as a tactic is that it signaled solidarity with those students at UC Irvine who were detained — on multiple occasions — for writing benign slogans in chalk on the main campus walkway in the weeks before the Regents’ meeting.
We were serious when we challenged UCPD to arrest us for chalking. For chalking! Students running for campus government positions routinely cover the main walkway with spray-chalk logos, slogans, and candidate names. It’s fucking chalk. When a cop sticks a gun in our faces, when dozens of cops pepper spray us indiscriminately and repeatedly, and when we all feel the blunt end of batons on our backs, if mere chalking in response isn’t indicative of measured restraint, we don’t know what is.
Fast forward just over 2 months. This morning, a UC Berkeley senior was served with a so-called “possible violation notice” by the Office of Student Conduct (OSC). Having just been through the process ourselves, we know it well. Following this notice, she will receive a “notice of charges,” likely identical to the charges in the possible violation notice:
102.04c. …destruction of, or damage to any property of the University, or any property of others while on University premises
102.25. Violation of any other University policy or campus regulation.
At this point, she will be asked to meet with the OSC to resolve her case informally. One of our contributors who was served with such a notice for his involvement in the Wheeler occupation did just this, only to receive harsher sanctions than those students who went through with a formal hearing. If she refuses to resolve it informally, her case will go to formal hearing. Given that 14 months after the Wheeler occupation, the overwhelming majority of cases have yet to be formally heard, she will be long graduated by the time they decide to harass her for her alleged involvement in a chalking campaign. Chalking! Of course, they will likely threaten to revoke her degree, forcing her to settle informally for a retroactively applied slap on the wrist, but it’s the fact that they are bringing students in front of a kangaroo court for chalking that is at issue here. This shit got so out of hand last semester that it made the front page of the Chronicle, but apparently OSC hasn’t learned its lesson.
Below we are providing the three pages of attachments included in the email that our comrade received from OSC officer Sonja Banford. The first two are the notice of the possible violation; the third is a letter from the Student Advocate’s Office. We will be following this case closely, and there are sure to be others; as soon as we hear anything we will let you know. Suffice it to say that we are unsurprised that our comrade was targeted. She is a committed organizer on this campus with a strong academic record and a long history of struggle against the budget cuts and police violence. She was not charged with the violation of a single law. We will not let this stand...
Drop all charges against student protesters immediately!
If the Wheeler show trials were a tragedy, this is a farce! Abolish OSC!