California’s Campus Movements Dig In Their Heels

Ann McClure's picture

It has become something of an annual tradition on California college campuses, in what is perhaps the most prestigious state university system in the country: the state makes large cuts in public universities, they in turn raise tuition, and students respond with angry protests.

But this year, propelled in part by the fervor of the Occupy Wall Street movement and in part by the state of the economy and California’s mountainous budget woes, the battle is sharpening. Indeed, the Occupy movement — on campuses, at least — is transforming itself into a student-led crusade against increases in tuition.

A video that showed two University of California, Davis, police officers using pepper spray on seated protesters has gone viral, with hundreds of thousands watching what might have been a relatively small encampment compared with the larger protests across the country. The video has led to demands that Chancellor Linda P. B. Katehi resign. On Monday, Ms. Katehi said she was putting the campus police chief on administrative leave as a way to rebuild trust on campus.

The attack has galvanized protesters on other campuses. Students at the Los Angeles, Berkeley, Riverside and Davis campuses said Monday that they intended to restart their encampments Monday night, in part to test whether they will be rousted or arrested in the wake of the pepper-spraying.

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