Wow, did this vanish off the radar quickly.
Folks, before I get into this –
1) This is not meant to be a hit piece on those behind the break in, it’s to cover discrepencies in reporting that I noticed at the time more than anything else, in the interest of giving folks a broader view of the full situation.
2) I failed in my editorial duties to you, my audience, by not publishing SOMETHING at the time and capturing relevant story links for you. As of this writing, it is very difficult to find any kind of reporting -at all!- So you will have to forgive me relying on a ton of hear-say.
3) I regret not having investigated this more aggressively but what’s done is done.
So what do I have to say about the break-in to CLICS during UCSD’s finals week, and the coverage of said event? Find out after the jump!
SO! As some of you may or may not have heard, this past December The library known as CLICS (Center for Library Instructional Computing Services) on the campus of UCSD (University of California, San Diego) was involved in a small controversy as a group of students broke into the library as part of a movement called Reclaim CLICS.
Before we get ANY further, some context – CLICS is a library that used to be a hybrid studyspace/computer lab, and popular study area during finals week. It had the dubious honor of being the traditional 24/7 study area for finals week, and quite frankly it was horrible at that role – hot, oppressive, full of chatty people, and not exactly fun to pull all nighters in. I did it once. Never again. (and just as a general aside to any students or future students – don’t ever do all nighters. maybe only once so you can learn how much you’ll regret it. They suck, cramming sucks, and it’s all around a stress bomb that you should really avoid.)
CLICS was closed at the beginning of this academic year (August 2011) as part of budget cuts. Too expensive to run, and the university didn’t want to adjust its budget to keep the library up, so in general the campus has had significant belt tightening across its broader library network. Study spaces on campus have gone down at a time when campus population has gone up (but housing has gone up), but all around I’d say it’s more of a nuisance then a crippling paralyzation. There are still a significant number of study spaces to be found, even during finals week as a number of libraries remain open.
This wasn’t exactly a popular decision with the student population, but not so utterly horrific enough to spawn widespread campus protests. In spite of art projects on campus who’s budgets would’ve covered the library operating costs (I will note these were funded by private donations) and squabbles over pensions, payments, and research budgets, the only protests popping up on campus were small. UCSD is traditionally a campus of apathy – about the only issues that will spur campus riots (enough tension to fill the entirety of library walk, which would be several thousand students) are anything involving a significant and quick hike in tuition. I should know, I had a lecture once just off library walk where for a full hour we had a several thousand strong crowd filling library walk.
Leading up to the break in, the Occupy Movement had a number of small, token rallies in front of Giesal Library, the symbol of campus as well as the largest library. I was at most of them, and they only drew crowds of several dozen to under one hundred. I’ll share some of the photos and video I took another day. while passionate, they were small, and actually had a small, dedicated hangers-on contingent of counter protesters in the Young Americans for Liberty who showed up as frequently as I did, if not more.
Also, in 10th week, I was led to understand that Giesal library would be open for 24/7 study to replace CLICS’ old function as a university response to student fussing. All this prior to the break in.
Important things to note:
- Library closures annoying but not crippling to students
- Students largely did not care
- The Occupy movement was present but not enjoying huge support
- A library to replace CLICS was already identified, and would be open 24/7
The Break-in and Immediate Aftermath
So why all this setup?
The coverage (now very difficult to find) of the actual event itself had a brief flash on local and state media before vanishing. The narrative was very short, brief, and had very little information of substance. There was one central theme:
The poor, downtrodden students were savaged by the big bad mean university who didn’t care about study spaces. The students reclaimed CLICS because they were FORCED too and had nowhere else to study! There was absolutely no political agenda whatsoever these were just poor, sad, students trying so hard not to fail!
Allow me now to share the photos I took only a few days after the break in –
Full gallery here. Selections below.
I’ll largely let the pictures speak for themselves, but take note:
- There is an obvious political agenda
- The front wall of what used to be a publicly funded library is being used for propaganda purposes
- The university is supporting this message de-facto by not doing anything to stop it
- There is an active discouragement of cooperation with the media and an air of seeking to hide from the media
Why would poor, sad, failing students want to loudly shout a radical agenda and in the same breath tell each other to not talk to the police or media? Take note of the rules list asking visitors to pretty please don’t take interior pictures. There was a table inside that was covered in a small blanket of books on socialism, marxism, etc.
No story I read mentioned the political agenda nor any whisper of the ties of this Reclaim CLICS group to the larger Occupy Movement. NONE. AT ALL.
I tend to get mad when the media absolutely fails to do their job. Especially when there are legitimate and fair questions to be asked here:
- Why did the university let individuals breaking and entering into university property have free run of the place?
- Why were radical political messages allowed to sit on university property for roughly a week?
- Why were police actively discouraged from being present?
- Who is this group, why are they promoting occupy, and why do they really seem like they’re hiding something?
- How many people actually used the library as a study area? (it didn’t seem like many at all)
Now I also failed to do my job. I wasn’t expecting such an utter news blackout of the agenda behind the break in. I should have actually gone inside, conducted informal interviews, done a little infiltration, taken more photos, followed the progression of the signage over time. Unfortunately, life interfered as well as the little fact that I only have so much time and energy to devote to citizen journalism. For that, I apologize.
Since this is in essence an incomplete report – I’ll let it stand as is, and provide more in depth commentary either at another time or in response to any comments below. Just do me a favor – agree or disagree with what these people did, answer this question for me: Why hide what was actually done? If it’s so noble and right, WHY HIDE??
An Epilogue of Sorts
I am actually typing this report in CLICS itself. That’s right! It remains open. It’s also been rather thoroughly scrubbed of any and all propaganda and messaging. This is good. This means I can happily come in and study, research, write, etc. without having to worry about the radical agenda thought police looking over my shoulder and wondering if I’m running my webcam to record what’s going on inside. It also means that the University is finally acting as a parent and keeping a tighter hold on the place as it should.
If CLICS is kept open and is run as a non partisan, -actual- study space and not a little den of extreme leftist proganda dissemination I can happily support it being run by students as it is now.
But it has to stay clean. Keep the politics out of it, don’t be so darned sneaky and underhanded, and maybe. JUST maybe, you’ll have a chance at reaching out to people. I’m here now. I will be as long as it remains as it is while I sit here and tap away. Almost all by my lonesome.. makes one wonder about that severe need for study spaces, huh?