Tuesday, September 19

Letter to the Editor: Recent coverage of the protest during the CSU trustees’ meeting is misleading

I am the unnamed UCLA student who was “arrested for breaking a window,” according to Alessandra Daskalakis of the Daily Bruin, at a protest that Daskalakis called “violent” and Gina Kass ““ also of The Bruin ““ called “unruly and rage-fueled.”

Neither reporter was present at the California State University, Long Beach protest ““ nor did they use any primary sources for research before publishing articles on it ““ so it’s only natural they irresponsibly misreported the strategies and morals of this action. Nevertheless, I’d like to set the record straight ““ not only because the Daily Bruin harmfully misreported the California State University trustees’ meeting and protest, but because this is just one in a long series of pieces the Opinion staff of The Bruin has used to misinform the public against our movement.

Though the News staff has made similarly continuous and egregious factual errors in reporting our actions, they are not actively involved in coercing public opinion against us, who seek to benefit said public.

I am merely writing about “In the know: CSU tuition hikes” because it takes a whole submission to disclose how gravely they mislead the public and political dialogue on campus in just this one instance, and because I have a deeply personal stake in this action. “Occupy UCLA needs more focus,” “Protest veers off the right path,” and “Occupy movement needs to focus” each deserve a similar full-length rebuttal. I seek to set the record straight in support of the people who were out there risking everything for the future of public higher education in California, who have been attacked again and again by the biased armchair reporters of the Daily Bruin, and in support of the public, who deserve to know the truth.

Around 30 UCLA students, including myself, bused over to Cal State Long Beach on Nov. 16, along with CSU students from around the state, to protest their trustees’ meeting, which sought to increase fees for CSU students by 9 percent the coming year. The trustees ““ the CSU equivalent of our regents ““ undemocratically silenced us in numerous ways, from blocking student protesters from attending the meeting, to disrupting our public comment by having security and police forcibly remove us from the building before their vote. Once outside, we continued to protest their attempt to essentially levy regressive taxation without representation against students; police began to pepper spray us, to shove and swing at us with batons and fists. They arrested several peaceful protesters for “inciting riot” ““ though I was standing next to them, and all they did was get beaten but not retreat.

A note: I was arrested on suspicion of breaking a door, not “for breaking a window,” as its News coverage of the event suggested; this has since been corrected, but does not excuse the irresponsible misreporting of both minutia (that it was a door, not window), and the implication of causality and guilt associated with its biased phrasing. Another note: I was charged with four felonies as a result of the alleged door-breaking, since the CSU police claimed the door was a “deadly weapon” used with intent to cause harm against cops; I find it irresponsible of The Bruin to neglect to cover both the police brutality against peaceful protesters and the trumped-up, outrageously false and reactionary charges brought against us as modes of censorship and political repression. I find it disgraceful that The Bruin reported the protest as “violent “¦ unruly and rage-fueled” ““ implying violence came from us, instead of exclusively from police.

A final note: Univision televised evidence that exonerated me; the district attorney dropped all charges this Monday.

I find it restricting to our campus’s political discourse and actions that The Bruin called our protest there “futile,” when we finally made tangible progress: Our actions directly canceled the passing of a 9 percent fee hike to CSU students over the next year. Our overwhelmingly substantive and procedurally democratic response caused the unelected trustees to vote in hiding from the people they supposedly represent. The alarming and illegal nature of this closed-doors vote caused the Office of the Lieutenant Governor to recommend a revote. A lawsuit against the trustees for this is pending. Not only did we actively participate through the only democratic avenue left to us ““ by shutting down the plutocratic oligarchy that is the Board of Trustees ““ but we also doubled our support among them over the course of the meeting. This is real progress, which we should emulate here, which The Bruin’s irresponsible coverage has attempted to stifle ““ though this Monday we likewise shut down the regents and their extortive budget.

This is an abridged summation of one instance of The Bruin’s inaccurate and harmful coverage of current student activism ““ please read other such editorials by them with similar reservations, and come talk to us, the people they write about, before forming your opinions.

Meanwhile, the Daily Bruin should represent student interests.

Newmeyer is a second-year English and mathematics student.

Seth Newmeyer

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