A group of 70 demonstrators occupied the anthropology library at Kroeber Hall Thursday evening as the Occupy Cal movement marked the start of the spring semester.
A “study-in” action at Kroeber Hall began at around 3 p.m., and continued past the library’s new 5 p.m. closing time as demonstrators reiterated their determination to occupy the library through the night.
As the protest got under way, anthropology department chair Terrence Deacon read aloud a statement which informed demonstrators that permission had not been granted for them to remain in the library after closing. The statement went on to advise the demonstrators that anyone who remained in the library would be in violation of university rules and subject to disciplinary action.
“The faculty and I have monitored the Occupy group all night,” said Deacon. “They have been respectful and quite appreciative of our effort to make this a constructive interaction.”
The group significantly dwindled to about 15 who remain in the library this morning.
Plans call for the library to re-open for business as usual today at noon. Until then, though, the occupiers are still violating university policies and may be subject to charges of student conduct violations.
“We would like to express our appreciation to chair Deacon and the anthropology faculty and staff for helping us to carry out our goal of managing this event without conflict or police involvement,” said George Breslauer, executive vice chancellor and provost.
“We are in close contact with chair Deacon and the library, and will remain at their disposal should they need our assistance,” Breslauer continued. “I have every confidence that they will manage this well and work collaboratively with our students to allow for freedom of expression while also enabling normal operations and access to our library.”
Occupy Cal organizers, who erected a single tent as a symbolic gesture of occupation, cited the recent curtailment of anthropology library hours, which were reduced four hours per day this semester, as evidence of the misplaced priorities and disinvestment they see as undermining the UC system.
However, University Librarian Tom Leonard issued a statement Thursday explaining that the library’s hours for the spring semester were trimmed due to staffing issues, not budgetary restraints, following the unexpected departure of a staff member in December. “California’s fiscal crisis limits our options, but is not the reason we have shortened hours. Had we not lost this key person, the hours in Anthropology would be unchanged,” Leonard wrote.
Library officials are now undertaking a full review of operations and staffing levels in order to develop recommendations that will enable campus libraries to maintain service levels in the context of budgetary constraints. Leonard has committed to share and discuss the expected proposals with students, staff and faculty before any are implemented.