The University of California, San Diego, said last week that it won’t move forward with trying to criminally charge union-represented protesters for what it called “felony vandalism” of one of its buildings.
One postdoctoral researcher told Inside Higher Ed in July that she was handcuffed to a chair and later jailed overnight, alongside two graduate student researchers. All this was allegedly connected to a May protest involving washable sidewalk chalk and window markers—the university said those arrested used “materials other than chalk to deface the walls of the new facility, and those materials seeped into the concrete.”
Last week, the University of California released a joint statement with the UAW, which represents grad workers and postdoc scholars in the university system.
“The UAW and University recognize and agree that protest activities must at all times be peaceful and consistent with standards for appropriate labor actions, including applicable laws and policies against vandalism,” the statement says. “The UAW and the University support lawful First Amendment and protected labor activities which are consistent with reasonable rules.”
The statement further says the “UAW regrets events that transpired arising from the protests on May 29, 2023 and May 5, 2023 in regards to the Marine Conservation and Technology Facility,” the allegedly damaged building, “and the Alumni Awards Celebration.” The university said the union filed unfair labor practice charges against it regarding the situation, and the union has dismissed those charges as part of the resolution.
In its own statement, the UAW said the university dropped the criminal charges and separate student misconduct charges against other protesters. UAW said “academic workers have forced management” to drop the charges, claiming “a major victory.”
A San Diego County district attorney’s office spokeswoman said Friday that no one submitted the criminal case to the office for its review.