Occupy SFSU still undecided on camping over winter break

Occupy SF State

The Occupy SFSU has grown into a 15-tent encampment, and more than 20 people are camping out at Malcolm X plaza, Dec. 5, 2011. Photo by Hang Cheng.

Occupy SFSUcontinues to camp out at the Malcolm X Plaza in front of the Cesar Chavez Student Center. They are hoping to bring awareness to the ongoing issues within the University such as budget cuts and how it has impacted them.

The students pitched tents Thursday night as a response to the ongoing budget cuts and the recent 9 percent tuition increase approved by the Board of Trustees Nov. 16.

Currently, the camp is averaging 17 tents and about 47 students a night. Some students also sleep under the stars without tents because there isn’t room for all of them.

“The tents in itself are kind of a message. You don’t really come to school everyday and see a bunch of people camping out on campus. The fact that we are taking over physical space for the other spaces that we have been pushed out of and the decision making processes that affect us directly, such as the most recent fee and tuition increase,” said Kendall Nevarez, a junior majoring in anthropology.

Nevarez also explained that she hopes the administration will recognize that they should have a voice too.

The students have created a daily schedule in which they have study time, meditation groups, film screenings and other group activities. They also hold a general assembly at least once a day to discuss anything pertaining to the encampment and the Occupy SFSU movement, according to Nevarez.

Chino Martinez, a senior who is also camping out, explained that the encampment is more than students making a political statement. Martinez, who is double majoring in Latino/Latina studies and design and industry, said it is about having a safe place to express the issues that are important to them.

“We are here studying with each other; we are here feeding each other; we are here supporting each other in any way we can in order to really build a community,” Martinez said.

University President Robert A. Corrigan spoke with Occupy SFSU during a demonstration held Thursday. He encouraged them to take their concerns to the legislature. He spoke with the campers again Friday, allowing them to address their concerns.

“He spoke to us for a while too, like an hour or something weird like that. Then the next day he came and was actually more productive the second day,” said Sam Badger, a philosophy graduate student. “President Corrigan said there would be no repeat of UC Davis and we felt very confident about that.”

Badger has been camping out in Malcolm X Plaza since Saturday.

“So far things are on a stable footing with the administration,” Badger said. “We don’t want to rock the boat, but I can’t speak for the administration. At some point they might feel that they are sick of us.”

It is still undecided if the students plan to continue camping over winter break, but many of them have expressed interest to stay. The students have said that if they don’t continue to camp over the break, they will resume camp when the spring semester starts.

“There is no indication in the short term that the budget cuts have been dealt with,” Badger said. “So we need to come back out here until they deal with them and keep coming back out here until they deal with them. We need to be persistent. That is the only way change ever happens is through persistence.”

Ellen Griffin, University spokeswoman, said the University doesn’t have any long term plans regarding the students who are camping out in the plaza.

“We are speaking with the students daily and determining one day at a time what the plan will be,” Griffin said.

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