Alumni Boycott of UCSD Begins in Support of the C.H.E. Cafe
Donations to Stop Until Eviction Dropped and Lease Restored
LA JOLLA – The annual UCSD Alumni Weekend will be June 4 – 7 this year and features many events for alumni at the campus. They will be greeted with informational leaflets and sign-up sheets to join a boycott of alumni donations to the university.
On March 24 a court order for eviction went into effect, to push the C.H.E. Cafe Collective out of its home of 35 years, the C.H.E. Cafe. The Cafe’s appeal of the court order is still pending in the appellate court.
Rally to Protect the C.H.E. Cafe. March 24, 2015, 5 a.m.
Following a 5 a.m. Rally to Protect the C.H.E. Cafe attended by over a hundred people, an occupation of the building by students and other supporters was started on March 24. The occupation, or sit-in, has continued for over two months, in defiance of the eviction order.
Since the sit-in/occupation of the C.H.E. Cafe began, events and activity at the Cafe have multiplied. Events at the Cafe in recent weeks have included Student Film Nights, UCSD Triton Art, Earth Day Planting Party, Creative Dance Class, Paint the C.H.E. With Mario Torero, Co-op Prom, presentation on activist history at UCSD by Professor Emeritus Fred Lonidier, Meatless Mondays, an ongoing Queer Film Night, and events with the Roger’s Community Garden.
Paint the C.H.E. With Mario Torero event. April 16, 2015
The UCSD administration has shown no interest in calling off the eviction and Sheriff’s Deputies can arrive at any time to try to force people out of the building. With the summer break starting on June 13, the administration and the Sheriff’s Department may make their move to finalize the eviction once most students are gone. Although this timing tactic would reduce the size of the student body response, supporters are confident that the general community will turn out to protest.
For over a year the UCSD administration has attempted to shut the C.H.E. Cafe Collective out of its historic home using a variety of secretive bureaucratic maneuvers, manipulations, and blatant lies. More than a million dollars is the cost projection the UCSD administration has claimed to need to make the C.H.E. Cafe building “safe” to use. At the request of the C.H.E. Cafe Collective, a reputable licensed general contractor with experience in rehabilitating historic wood structures did a preliminary walk through recently and thought the building was in better shape than what he expected to find.
The UCSD administration’s claim that the building is “unsafe” because of a lack of automatic fire sprinklers has been thoroughly debunked. The administration has not explained why a lack of fire sprinklers suddenly became a concern after almost 50 years of use of the building by UCSD. The University’s commissioned 2010 report on the condition of the building states “addition of full fire suppression is not recommended at this time.” Research by alumni revealed that the UC Office of the President (UCOP) abides by the California Fire Code, which states that buildings such as the C.H.E. Cafe are exempt from any requirement to retrofit an automatic fire sprinkler system. Fire extinguishers and all other Fire Code requirements have always been maintained. Other than retrofitting sprinklers, the official UCSD administration assessments of repairs needed include a long list of items like replacement of all the plumbing pipes, despite the fact that no leaks have been found. This is how the cost estimates from the administration end up topping a million dollars.
COMMUNITY SUPPORT GROWING
The C.H.E. Cafe continues to be an invaluable “hands-on” laboratory for students and community members to learn the skills needed to run a vegetarian restaurant, concert/events venue and community center. It continues to be a shining light of the “diversity” that the University claims to promote.
During the past year, despite the protracted struggle over funding of building maintenance, termination of the lease, the eviction lawsuit and the appeal of that ruling, more than 100 shows and events were held at the Cafe.
Organizations and individuals publicly opposed to the eviction of the C.H.E. Cafe Collective from the CHE Cafe building include the University Council-American Federation of Teachers (AFT), the San Diego-Imperial Counties Labor Council, the UCSD Faculty Association, the University Professional and Technical Employees (UPTE), United Auto Workers (UAW) Local 2865 (UCSD teaching assistants and student employees), AFT Local 1931 (faculty and staff in the San Diego Community College and Grossmont-Cuyamaca Community College Districts), KSDT Radio, UCSD Mecha, The General Store Co-op, Rabbi Laurie Coskey, Ed.D.(Executive Director, Interfaith Center for Worker Justice), Martin Eder (Interim Director, KNSJ Radio), UAW Local 5810 (Post Doctoral Researchers Union at UCSD) Alor Caleron (Director, San Diego Employee Rights Center), UCSD Co-ops and Collectives Alumni, and many others.
More than 14, 000 people have signed online petitions to tell the UCSD administration to stop the eviction of the C.H.E. Cafe Collective, to restore the lease and to fund basic building maintenance costs. The current petition, with 900 signatures, is at https://www.change.org/p/university-of-california-and-other-state-officials-public-statement-of-support-for-the-c-h-e-caf%C3%A9-and-the-c-h-e-caf%C3%A9-collective
ALUMNI ALARM GROWS LOUDER
Over this past year, hundreds of alumni have signed petitions and open letters of protest. Even a past president of the Alumni Association wrote a letter of protest. UCSD Chancellor Pradeep Khosla has refused to meet with concerned alumni to discuss the eviction and building repairs dispute. Now, the C.H.E. Cafe Support Network has decided to call a boycott of alumni donations to pressure the UCSD administration in a language it understands: money.
Alumni have donated millions of dollars to UCSD. Thousands of alumni have eaten at or attended shows and meetings and events at the C.H.E. Cafe or enjoyed the low-cost services of one or more of the three other student coops. Hundreds of alumni have actually worked at the C.H.E. Cafe or at the other coops.
The boycott demands that Chancellor Khosla:
STOP THE EVICTION OF THE C.H.E. CAFE COLLECTIVE FROM THE C.H.E. CAFE FACILITY
RESTORE THE LEASE
RESTORE THE BASIC BUILDING MAINTENANCE FUNDS
STOP THE “BIG LIE” PUBLIC RELATIONS CAMPAIGN TO BRAND THE BUILDING “UNSAFE”
RENEW THE LONG TERM LEASE FOR ALL FOUR OF THE STUDENT COOPS
Organizers say the action at the Alumni Weekend events is only the public opening of the boycott. More information about the annual Alumni Weekend is available at the official UCSD website for
the event at http://www.alumni.ucsd.edu/s/1170/landing/index_rot.aspx?sid=1170&gid=1&pgid=6224
Alumni wanting to join the boycott are asked to call (858) 373-7018 or write to email@example.com
See related article:
C.H.E. Cafe Makes SOHO “10 Most Endangered List” for 2015, San Diego Free Press, June 1, 2015
See more background on the fight to save the Che Cafe at http://newindicator.org/?p=5 .