CRES Faculty Condemn Recent Police Violence against Student Protesters

January 04, 2019

Dear President Napolitano, Chancellor Blumenthal, and EVC Tromp:

We, the undersigned principal faculty of the Critical Race and Ethnic Studies program, are compelled to write out of a sense of profound dismay and anger. On Friday, November 16, 2018, UC Santa Cruz students marched to the University Center at Colleges 9/10 with the intention of presenting demands to UC President Janet Napolitano, a few UC regents, faculty officials, student delegates, and alumni. In the wake of the misuse of general funds by the UC Santa Cruz Student Union Assembly (SUA) and the negative impact this will surely have on student-of-color programming on campus, student organizers elaborated a capacious and critical set of resource demands aimed at fortifying services for as well as addressing the needs and reflecting the vision of underrepresented and marginalized student populations. Their goal, galvanized and made all the more urgent by SUA’s budget fiasco, was to participate in the governance of this institution by ensuring that their voices and their needs were not overlooked. This—we wish to underscore—is why they marched.

Yet the university’s response to the student march was the exercise of police violence. We have heard of at least two instances in which students, including Jared Semana, the 2018-19 CRES undergraduate student representative, were assaulted by the UCPD. We condemn the use of police force against student activists and protestors in the strongest possible terms. We further call, in keeping with recent recommendations by the Task Force on University-wide Policing, for an immediate, thorough review of this violence, with procedural safeguards—including faculty and legal support, if necessary—put into place for student complainants. We want to know why the police were present in the first place and why they exercised brute force against students. If they were present to ward off the possibility of student violence, we wish to point to the fact that the only form of violence that manifested during the student march was that deployed by the UCPD. Indeed, the UCPD presence escalated the situation from one in which students marched collectively and peacefully toward the University Center with the goal of presenting a set of demands to President Napolitano and local campus leaders to one in which their efforts to participate in the university’s decision-making process were literally rebuffed by force.


Robert Locke-Paddon using his forearm against Jared Semana’s neck to push back students from entering meeting room to present demands.

Although CRES faculty were not consulted or otherwise involved in the formulation of student demands, including those concerning our program, we stand with the students in their aim to shape this institution—beyond the limitations of existing student governance structures—to address their needs. For Jared Semana and other student(s) brutalized by the UCPD, there must be a thoughtful and meaningful remediation process, one in which their well-being is the priority. We further insist that there be a space—one in which students are not excluded by police force but central to the conversation—in which their demands are heard.

As scholars of ethnic studies, we are all too aware that this academic year marks the fiftieth anniversary of the Third World Liberation Front strike in which San Francisco State officials called in special police forces aimed at quashing urban rebellions and then-Governor Ronald Reagan called in the National Guard to forcibly quell student protests at Berkeley. We know that we stand on the shoulders of student activists, both past and present, who have viewed the public university not simply as the site of their education but as an arena of social justice, one responsive and accountable to the needs of the people it is mandated above all to serve.


Neel Ahuja, Neda Atanasoski, Micha Caárdenas, Vilashini Cooppan, Camilla Hawthorne, Christine Hong, Jenny Kelly, Nidhi Mahajan, NIck Mitchell, Marcia Ochoa, Eric Porter, Felicity Schaeffer, Savannah Shange, Ronaldo Wilson, Alice Yang, Jerry Zee