Friday, November 7, 2014

[SDCPJ] UCSD Chancellor Won't Meet with Alumni re CHE Cafe

 
 
CONTACTS:
Monty Kroopkin (858) 373-7018 mkroopkin@juno.com
Nicole Morales (619) 252-4784 nicolemorales3675@hotmail.com    
 
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:November 7, 2014
MEDIA ADVISORY from UCSD CO-OPS AND COLLECTIVES ALUMNI

UCSD CHANCELLOR REFUSES TO MEET WITH ALUMNI ABOUT C.H.E. CAFE & CO-OPS;
TELLS FACULTY EVICTION WILL CONTINUE




LA JOLLA –  Friday, November 07, 2014. On Monday UCSD Chancellor Kholsa told a delegation of concerned faculty that the eviction of the C.H.E. Cafe would go ahead, despite the new resolution of the UCSD Associated Students Council student government calling on him to NOT do it. The court judgment on eviction was signed Wednesday and Kholsa can now post the 5 day notice to vacate at any time.
 
Also on Wednesday, Kholsa's staff told concerned alumni that he would not meet with them to discuss the situation. A newly formed alumni group, UCSD Co-ops and Collectives Alumni, seeks the meeting. The alumni group represents the thousands of former students who either worked at one of the UCSD student cooperatives or used their services. Clare M. Kristofco, UCSD Associate Chancellor / Chief of Staff  for Chancellor Kholsa, told the group's representative, Monty Kroopkin, that Kholsa was not interested in talking with alumni. Kroopkin told Kristofco to tell Chancellor Kholsa that alumni were" not asking for a meeting with him, "we're demanding it" and that "not meeting with alumni is not acceptable." Kristofco told Kroopkin that alumni are in "no position to be making demands". Kroopkin informed Kristofco that "alumni actually can do a lot of things."
 
An open letter from alumni to the UCSD administration and to the UCSD Regents has called for a public meeting on the campus to discuss the issues. The letter also raises the threat of an organized alumni boycott of donations to the University if the C.H.E. Cafe is destroyed by Kholsa's administration.
 
Alumni and other supporters of the C.H.E. Cafe are now calling on the public to make phone calls to Governor Brown's office, your state assembly and state senate representative, and state Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins office. Callers are asked to have the governor and representatives immediately call Chancellor Kholsa and UC statewide President Napolitano to press them to:

-- stop the eviction

-- respect the ASUCSD resolution calling on the administration to NOT go ahead with eviction. ASUCSD represents 20,000 UCSD students and the building is funded by self-assessed student fees.

-- stop the false statements about the "safety" situation, to the press and public, and admit the Fire Marshall's annual inspection found the building safe;

-- stop threatening students with the use of armed UC police officers and forcible removal from the student fee-funded C.H.E. Cafe building

-- return to the bargaining table and sign new lease agreements with the C.H.E. and the 3 other student-run campus cooperatives

On Tuesday, October 28, a rally and march from the C.H.E. Café to the UCSD Chancellor’s office delivered 14,000-signature petitions and open letters demanding that UCSD stop the eviction actions against the C.H.E. Cafe, restore basic building maintenance funding, and order his administration to return to the negotiation table. Students and alumni are seeing the UCSD administration's attack upon the C.H.E. Cafe as the opening salvo in a new war against all of the student-run campus cooperatives. The four campus co-ops share the same Master Space Agreement lease terms with UCSD. All four co-ops have been unable to get the administration to negotiate terms for an extension of the lease, since 2008. In the courtroom, lawyers for UCSD painted the picture that the lease negotiation problems were just about the C.H.E. Café, when in reality they followed years of refusal by the administration to meet with students and supporters regarding the lease at issue.

"We Shall Not Be Moved!"  is echoed in the views of hundreds of supporters of the C.H.E. Cafe. To voluntarily vacate the building and to comply with an immoral and totally unjustified eviction order is regarded by many as the wrong thing to do. A number of legal rights trainings have been conducted for prospective demonstrators and more trainings may be scheduled.


[BACKGROUND]

Students and alumni are alarmed that the UCSD administration took the eviction action into court without the consent of the student body. The C.H.E. Cafe building is one of the complex of facilities on the campus which are funded by self-assessed student body fees, not UC Regents' funds. Because of this distinct status as student-fee funded facilities, it is the policy of the UC Regents and of the UCSD administration that a student-controlled board has jurisdiction over space allocations to student organizations housed in the Student Center, the Price Center and the C.H.E. Cafe building. That board is the University Centers Advisory Board (UCAB), comprised of student representatives and non-voting representatives from the faculty and campus staff. The UCSD administration completely bypassed UCAB's jurisdiction by filing the eviction lawsuit against the C.H.E. Cafe.  The alleged “de-certification” action by the Graduate Student Association (“GSA”) that the Administration also relies on was equally flawed and is being challenged by the Collective in court.  

Built in 1942, the C.H.E. Cafe building is one of the last of the original Camp Matthews, World War II era buildings still in use on the campus and also became the first student center on the new UCSD campus in 1966. UCSD administrators have claimed the building is "too old" to be worth maintaining and have stated in writing that they "may" save the murals on the building, if it is not "too expensive". The muralists include a number of highly-respected local artists. Supporters want the building to have protected historic site designation.

Members of the University, San Diego, and art/music communities are also outraged that the entire public relations campaign the UCSD administration has waged against the C.H.E. Cafe has been based upon demonstrably false premises. There is no urgent fire safety issue. There is no repair or upgrade to the building which requires completion this year. There is no funding crisis because the Cafe generates most of its own essential operational revenues. One alumni, Monty Kroopkin, observed that "The UCSD administration has chosen the aggressive abandonment of reason and the sort of anti-collaborative, non-negotiation tactics we sometimes see when corporations engage in illegal union-busting campaigns." Kroopkin is a former co-chair of the UCSD student government and a union shop steward.

The C.H.E. Cafe, for over 34 years, has been one of the only (some say the only) Safe Space for campus events. Rather than recognizing the invaluable contribution the Cafe's Safe Space Policy has made to the lives of women, LGBTQ and other minority students, faculty, staff and community members - especially high school students -- the UCSD administration is arrogantly threatening to destroy it.

For more information, please see http://checafe.ucsd.edu/ 

Copies of online petitions and open letters are available on request.





[BACKGROUND]

On Tuesday, October 21, 2014, at approximately 10:00 a.m., San Diego Superior Court Judge Katherine Bacal issued a ruling in favor of UCSD in the eviction lawsuit filed by the Regents of the University of California/UCSD at the behest of a select core of administrators (“Administration”) against the C.H.E. Café Collective over the use of the iconic 34-year old, vegan, student-controlled venue and creative space, the C.H.E. Café.

Upholding the Collective’s main legal theory, Judge Bacal rejected the Administration's claim that the dispute resolution provisions of the lease did not apply to the termination at issue in this case. However, she also found there was insufficient evidence that a formal request for dispute resolution had been made by the Collective, thus permitting the Administration to terminate the lease at will. Yet, the Administration had acknowledged a request for dispute resolution had been made but had argued it was mooted by a previous lawsuit filed by the Collective that was later dismissed.  In addition, the Collective was reassured in various conversations that it was protected by a ‘holdover status’ provision in the lease and that it did not need to worry about an eviction. Completely disregarding these earlier reassurances, the University filed its eviction lawsuit and argued in court that dispute resolution was never formally requested by the Collective.  Ignoring the true facts and history of negotiations, the Administration was able to convince the Judge that the formal requirements for invoking dispute resolution had not been followed by the Collective, and the Court ultimately held that thus the Administration had a right to terminate the lease with the Collective.    

"I am glad the judge sided with our position that the dispute resolution provision portion of the lease applied to this termination," stated Bryan Pease, attorney for the Collective. "I am just a bit perplexed that the basis for ruling in favor of the University was lack of evidence that dispute resolution had been requested, when there was evidence before the Court that it had been, and when both parties addressed it in closing arguments. The University misled its own students throughout the last several years by consistently asserting that dispute resolution did not apply, and that the Collective did not need to formally request dispute resolution as part of the lease terms. Unfortunately, apparently applying the same tactics, the University was able to convince the Court that it had the right to evict the Collective at will.”   

The Collective and its supporters are disappointed by the ruling which upholds the Administration’s unfounded attack on the San Diego artistic landmark, but vow to continue to maintain its existence and legacy.  Preparation for a possible appeal of the ruling and other legal action will continue. Organizing protest activity and lobbying will also continue. The C.H.E. Cafe and supporters believe the student government councils and boards will do the right thing, once the true facts and history are laid bare. Likewise we believe that the Academic Senate and the State Legislature will be strongly opposed to the UCSD administration's abuse of power, once they are fully familiar with the facts.
 
The Collective and its current supporters renew their request that the Administration return to the negotiating table toward a mutually-beneficial resolution to this dispute. The Collective invites any and all supporters to join it in DEMANDING that the Administration cease its attack and roll back the eviction process. We note that this is not the first time that the UCSD Co-ops have been threatened with completely unjustified evictions. On more than one occasion students have been compelled to physically occupy and sit-in at the Co-ops to block eviction attempts by the University.

To read comments from supporters, show your support, and/or donate to the C.H.E., please visit:
http://checafe.ucsd.edu/?page_id=58#HowToHelp 
http://checafe.ucsd.edu/
http://thechecafe.blogspot.com/
http://www.gofundme.com/b4hda8
https://www.facebook.com/savetheche

[FURTHER INFORMATION AND BACKGROUND]

·    The C.H.E. Café (originally “Cheap Healthy Eats”), founded in 1980, is a student-run, cooperative, vegan café, venue, and creative space, hosting hundreds of independent artists and musicians over its 34-year history.  It is one of 4 student cooperatives on the campus of UCSD.

·    UCSD’s Administration, ignoring the rights of students to control student fee-funded spaces, filed a lawsuit in court to evict the Café. The Administration’s bias against cooperatives, misunderstanding of the C.H.E. Café, and failure/refusal to work with students underlies its legal actions to force the Collective out of the student fee-funded space, despite years of good faith efforts by the Collective to comply with every directive of the Administration. The Collective has requested dispute resolution and negotiations with the Administration but has been rebuffed.

·    The Collective is asking the Administration to come back to the negotiating table and stop the expensive student/public fee-funded legal offensive against the space.  

·    The Collective requests the help of the public at large and the San Diego art and music community to save the space and ensure that it is recognized and appreciated for the place it has in San Diego and UCSD history.  

EVICTION LAWSUIT

Despite receiving hundreds of emails, calls, and letters of support from UCSD students, alumni, faculty, staff, organized labor, and community members, as well as petitions signed by over 14,000 supporters following its Notice of Termination against the Collective, the Administration opted to use student and public funds to hurriedly evict the Collective in court. The lawsuit followed the Administration’s rejection of several good faith attempts by the collective to negotiate the issues and a proposed resolution.

The Administration argues that the 2006 Space Agreement between UCSD and the UCSD student/worker cooperatives, including the C.H.E., should be ignored. The agreement was intended to last through 2016, when the parties could then re-negotiate it. Instead, in late May when students were leaving for the summer, the University, along with members of the UCSD Graduate Student Association (“GSA”), secretly pushed through a flawed resolution "decertifying" the Collective, so the University could bypass the agreement.  

It is estimated that UCSD has spent at least $76,000 in public and student funds on its high-paid outside attorneys, including the firm Kimball, Tirey, and St. John, who was recently replaced by the firm of Paul, Plevin, Sullivan & Connaughton LLP (“Paul, Plevin”). Paul, Plevin specializes in the aggressive defense of employers when sued by workers over discrimination, harassment, wrongful termination, and wage & hour claims.

The attempted eviction is the latest in the ongoing historical attack on the Collective by the Administration, which not only refused to meet with students to discuss any issues related to the Café, but actively interfered with the C.H.E.’s ability to operate as a café, including blocking a $35,000 grant to the CH.E. by another student organization and cutting off the gas lines at the Café so it could no longer cook and sell food (a large part of its revenue). Despite these attacks, the Collective repeatedly requested meetings with the University administrators, but the Administration continued to ignore and/or rebuff attempts to work together.  

The C.H.E. filed its own action against the University to challenge the alleged GSA decertification is considering other legal actions.  Meanwhile, the C.H.E. continues to operate as it has since 1980, as a student-controlled, democratically-run space on campus for students to have a safe and alcohol-free atmosphere for entertainment and meetings.

Several fundraisers and other events have been planned, with more information to be released.  Supporters continue to join the cause, not the least due to the hundreds of iconic artists and musicians who have been hosted over the years, including those listed below.  

MUSIC, ART, AND A SMALL PART OF THE C.H.E.’s LEGACY:

A short list of national and international indie acts who played the C.H.E. includes:
At the Drive-In, Blonde Redhead, Black Dice, Blink 182, Botch, Bright Eyes, Citizen Fish, Billy Corgan, Chumbawamba, the Descendents, Deerhoof, Dum Dum Girls, Green Day, Hella, Inside Out, Jawbreaker, Jets to Brazil, Jimmy Eat World, Lightning Bolt, Los Crudos, Mike Watt, No Age, Pennywise, Rise Against, Sleep, Subhumans, The Dillinger Escape Plan, The Get Up Kids, The (international) Noise Conspiracy, and Unwound, among many, many others.

A few of San Diego’s seminal artists that have been hosted by the C.H.E. include:
Album Leaf, Antioch Arrow, Aspects of Physics, Crossed Out, Clikatat Ikatowi, Crash Worship, Rob Crow, Diatribe, Drive Like Jehu, Gogogo Airheart, Heavy Vegetable, Heroin, Physics, Pinback, Pitchfork, Patricia Rincon Dance Collective, Rocket from the Crypt, Struggle, Swing Kids, Retox, The Black Heart Procession, The Locust, Three Mile Pilot, Mario Torero, and Weatherbox, among several others.

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