Saving Face: Fire Sprinklers for Che Café and Why
March on the Chancellor, October 28, 2014. Photo by Fred Lonidier.
by Monty Kroopkin
member, Che Café Support Network


The UCSD administration sent the below email today, March 19, 2018, to all campus staff and students. It explains that

“This work is necessary to provide a fire protection system to the Che  Café.”

True. In order to install the new system it is necessary to upgrade the water flow capacity to the building.

However, with the whole campus right now having the insidious notion brought up again that implies that a fire protection system is or was ever NECESSARY for the building, this is a ‘teachable’ moment. We can calmly explain to all we can reach, that the central theme of the administration’s 2013 – 2015 campaign to shut down and evict the Che Café Collective was a consciously fabricated lie.  The theme was that an automatic fire suppression system retrofit was an absolutely necessary “fire and life safety” requirement to keep the building open. Our legal research proved that the state fire code did/does NOT mandate this expensive retrofit for the building. Our legal research is summed up in the little fact sheet released in 2014: Fire Code Facts

The true reason the building is getting the retrofit now is a lesson in the power of grassroots people’s resistance movements. Following a July 15, 2015 meeting between UCSD Chancellor Khosla and a delegation from Che Café Collective and Che Café Support Network, the chancellor agreed to call off the eviction order and to provide funds from his own discretionary funds to pay for the fire sprinkler system. We agreed to this (1) because the administration was no longer insisting that funds from student fees (the University Center Fee) would have to be used to pay for it and (2) we deemed it a good bargain to allow the administration to “save face” about their years of outright lying about the “requirement” for fire sprinklers in exchange for the administration calling off all their eviction efforts, and (3) we spared the administration from the embarrassment of TV cameras recording any incident with sheriff’s deputies dragging limp bodies of students out of the Che Café to finalize an eviction and spared our own people the prospect of any arrests. The Che Café had been occupied by students and supporters since March 24, 2015 in defiance of the eviction order. At the time of the July 15 meeting with the chancellor the occupation was already the longest protest sit-in in the entire history of the UC system.

We would never have won the Campaign to Save the Che Café without the Occupation of the Che and without the wide range of other actions of campus and community support during the years leading up to that sit-in. (For more about those other actions, see reporting in New Indicator at and and .

As we all go about our lives in the next few days, please take a moment to tell people you meet about this great victory of the power of popular organizing and resistance. Tell people how the Che Café Collective and all its supporters allowed the UCSD administration to do the right thing and SAVE FACE at the same time.



From: []
On Behalf Of Capital Program Management
Sent: Monday, March 19, 2018 8:00 AM
To: All Academics Staff and Students at UC San Diego <>
Subject: CONSTRUCTION ALERT – Scholars Drive South at Che Café


UC SAN DIEGO CAMPUS NOTICE University of California San Diego
March 19, 2018
SUBJECT: CONSTRUCTION ALERT – Scholars Drive South at Che Café
Project Description/Location:
Ongoing renovation and improvement work to the Che Café will require construction of underground utilities within the Scholars Drive next to the Che Café entrance. This will impact traffic along Scholars Drive in this vicinity for the duration of the work beginning on Monday, March 19, 2018 through Sunday, April 1, 2018.  During this time, only one lane will be open at any given time and flaggers will be positioned at each end of the construction to assist with traffic.
This work is necessary to provide a fire protection system to the Che Café.
Immediate Street Traffic, Bike Lane, and Pedestrian Impacts:
Scholars Drive will be limited to one lane during the construction. Detour signs and flaggers will direct traffic.  The bicycle lanes and will also be affected by this closure. Please follow signage and allow extra time while traveling around the Scholar Drive area.
Please view area map at:
Please direct questions to FM Project Management, Project Manager Aaron Cooley,, 619-550-7136. We greatly appreciate your patience during these construction activities.
Eric C. Smith, PE
Associate Vice Chancellor
Capital Program Management


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