SANTA CRUZ, Calif. (KION) Seventeen demonstrators have been arrested at UC Santa Cruz, according to the Director of News and Media Relations, Scott Hernandez-Jason.
They were arrested for failing to disperse and obstructing the movement of a person in a public place.
Hernandez-Jason said the demonstrators ignored repeated dispersal orders from officers who tried to move them out of the intersection at Bay and High Streets and onto the university field. Officers tried to de-escalate the situation and tell demonstrators that blocking the road would lead to arrests, but the demonstrators locked arms and sat in the roadway, according to university officials.
An undergraduate student Ben Scheer said he was one of the 17 arrested, Wednesday.
“They took me down to the ground, forced my hands behind my back and carried me away. [It was] four cops,” Scheer said.
Picketers blocked the intersection of High and Bay streets near the campus' main entrance.
Monday marked the start of an open-ended labor strike organized by some UCSC graduate students. The students said they will not be teaching, grading, holding office hours or conducting research as they demand a cost-of-living adjustment.
The number of protesters has continued to grow through out the week.
“U.C. Davis was coming in and apparently some from U.C. Riverside. Hopefully they're seeing what's going on at the university. The undergraduates are falling more and more in line and are trying to push for a more public university," graduate student Breanna Byrd said.
Many undergraduates and faculty have joined the protest too. UCSC lecturer Daniel Munoz brought his class down to the protest, Wednesday.
“Between graduate students and lecturers there's not a parity between our rent and our wages," Munoz said. "I brought my students here to show in the field how a protest works how power is wielded and how police move.”
The University said campus leaders have been communicating with the leaders of the Graduate Student Association and have offered programs to help students struggling financially, but students participating in the strike said the programs are "absurdly inadequate" in a statement announcing the escalation.
Students are claiming school administrators have threatened retaliation. Strikers say university officials are threatening to fire all students who are withholding transcripts from undergraduate students as part of the strike.