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How will winter break affect Occupy Cal?

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By 9:30 PM, around 100 protesters gathered on the steps of Sproul Hall to listen to music and prepare for the Mass Sleep-Out.


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NOVEMBER 30, 2011

As Occupy Cal finishes its third week and the end of the fall semester approaches, public participation is waning.

The general assembly still meets regularly to discuss upcoming action days and proposals, but participation has been low in the last week, according to Berkeley resident Nick Porter, who was one of the few spending the night on Sproul Plaza Tuesday evening.

“It completely lost all momentum (in the last week,) and no one is really staying here,” Porter said. “There are 35,000 kids here in this university — why is there only four to five people here every night?”

As of Wednesday, the Open University demonstrations associated with Occupy Cal plan to break during finals week but will continue when the spring semester begins, according to senior Alaska Quilici, co-founder of the Open University.

For now, demonstrators are actively trying to keep the movement going. On Tuesday, the general assembly passed two proposals to advance the movement before the semester ends.

The first proposal calls for a mobilizing action around Thursday’s Police Review Board meeting, while the second forms a committee to mobilize the campus community to participate in a shutdown of West Coast ports planned for Dec. 12.

According to the second proposal, Occupy Cal will merge with the Occupy Oakland march to that city’s port, a march that is part of a larger effort to shut down seven ports — Oakland, Los Angeles, San Diego, Portland, Tacoma, Seattle and Vancouver.

“We’re trying to shut down the entire West Coast,” said Anthony Sherman-Gassetti, a student at Peralta Community College in Oakland.

Additionally, another proposal called for a party on Chancellor Robert Birgeneau’s lawn Dec. 9 to celebrate the one-month anniversary of Occupy Cal.

However, that proposal failed due to a quorum rule passed on Monday that requires the Occupy Cal general assembly to garner 25 active votes — meaning yes or no votes — in order to pass proposals.

At the Monday meeting, no proposals were passed after the quorum rule was established. Though over 25 participants attended the meeting, the threshold for passing proposals was not met due to members abstaining from votes.

“We didn’t really do anything,” Porter said of the meeting. “It was pointless.”

While some events are planned and the Open University will continue through Reading, Review and Recitation week before finals, graduate student Eli Marienthal said the next few weeks will be a time of rest.

“Everyone needs to rest, everyone needs to eat right, everyone needs to stay warm and everyone has to get their school work done, because we are students. And so, dead week may be a time of recuperating and getting ready for a very big spring,” Marienthal said.

Occupy Cal has already finalized at least one demonstration for the spring semester. A proposal from Yvette Felarca, a teacher at Martin Luther King Jr. Middle School and organizer for BAMN, was passed Tuesday to form a committee to mobilize for the UC Board of Regents meeting at UC Riverside on Jan. 18 — the day after the spring semester begins.

“If we maintain in our momentum and pressure on the regents … we have the potential to win our demands,” Felarca said.

Contact Chloe Hunt at  or on Twitter


DECEMBER 05, 2011