UC Berkeley undergraduate students rallied in support of the ongoing academic worker strike at 3 p.m. Friday in front of the Campanile before marching to UC President Michael Drake’s house in the Berkeley Hills.
A band played for the crowd and, in addition to the strike, speakers discussed People’s Park and the closing of campus libraries, among other topics. Roughly 4,000 academic workers, undergraduate students and community members joined the march, according to a union newsletter.
The crowd chanted “the people, united, will never be defeated” and “one day longer, one day stronger” while marching through campus and down College Avenue, blocking traffic. Protestors also called out “join us,” urging people they saw watching from nearby houses or streets to join the march.
“It’s unfortunate that it takes away from our education here and the limited time we have as undergrads in college,” said campus freshman Natalie Posner, who also expressed support for the strike. “Even though I would love to have our classes and continue learning, I think we’re learning a lot from this as well, and it’s cool to see community demonstrations.”
Lila Voci, another campus freshman, said that she and other undergraduates have been creating study groups and working to keep up with their curriculum while some classes have been interrupted.
The inconvenience is part of the point, Voci noted.
“The value in it is that it is disruptive. That’s the reason it works,” Voci said. “If the entire way that the university functions as we know it is disrupted or changed during a strike, it shows how important the academic workers are to the university.”
Campus sophomores Yasmine Kaki and Sara Shah also expressed strong support for the strike, adding that academic workers deserve fair wages, subsidized transportation and childcare support.
Shah said that as a STEM major, she has had to attend classes and take an exam that had not been canceled, but noted that she still joins the picket line when she can.
“This will set a precedent for the future and how UC interacts with their workers — and hopefully strengthen the power of the union,” Kaki said.
Undergraduate students were not the only ones present at the rally. Campus alumni and retired Oakland school teachers Kate Gallagher and Deirdre Snyder joined the group at the Campanile in support of the strike.
Both said graduate student instructors, or GSIs, do important work and that the campus cannot function without them. Gallagher said that GSIs were often available, competent and empathetic to her when she was a student.
“It’s important because this is the University of California, and all of California depends on the UC system,” Snyder said of the strike. “It’s just unbelievable, unfathomable, except that we accept that this is capitalism.”