Student leaders are calling on administrators to respond to two students who disrupted a protest in support of undocumented students Thursday.
Undergraduate Students Association Council members are encouraging students to email UCLA administrators about two students who tried to force their way through the “11 Minutes for the 11 Million” rally. Students stood in solidarity for 11 minutes by the Bruin Bear to bring attention to the issues 11 million undocumented individuals in the United States face. They created a human blockade, and individuals who wanted to pass had to wait for 11 minutes or walk around the blockade by going through John Wooden Center’s steps.
A video posted on social media shows Alex Wolf, a member of the UCLA men’s water polo team, pushing USAC General Representative 1 Nicole Corona Diaz and other protestors out of his way. Another video shows a student passing through the protesters on his bicycle.
“When it got violent was (after) the first incident when one student broke through. … He literally violently pushed and shoved two students in order to get through,” said Cultural Affairs Commissioner Malik Flournoy-Hooker.
Ryan Finney, sports information director for the men’s water polo team, said UCLA Athletics is looking into the incident and added Wolf will not be commenting at this time.
The student who rode his bicycle through the line was not immediately available for comment.
Corona and Flournoy-Hooker released an email template on social media Friday for students to use when emailing administrators, including Chancellor Gene Block and Dean of Students Maria Blandizzi.
“The email isn’t just to keep students accountable for their acts of disrespect but also let administrators know more about the campus climate,” Corona said. “We are not where we need to be in terms of educating ourselves on certain issues marginalized communities face.”
UCLA spokespeople did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Flournoy-Hooker said he thinks there was no reason for the students to barge through the demonstration because protesters held signs that explained the human blockade’s purpose and asked students passing by to go around it.
“There were signs that explained exactly what was going on … so students chose to read it, then chose to go around, unlike some students,” he said.
Alex Saucedo, a second-year sociology student, was one of the protesters Wolf pushed. He said he tried to prevent Wolf from crossing the blockade.
“He was trying to get through, so he was pushing mostly (Corona) and me,” he said. “Even now, my arm still hurts … from trying to push him in.”
Saucedo said he thinks the student on the bike decided to charge through knowing the protesters would move.
“The guy was not stopping and he just went through,” he said. “But if (the protestors) hadn’t moved, he would’ve crashed into them.”
Students who participated at the protest said they think the disruptions indicate a lack of support for undocumented individuals on campus.
Robert Watson, a second-year political science student, said he thinks the incidents show that there are individuals on campus who are against movements supporting the undocumented community.
“You go to school here and it’s such an open-minded environment,” he said. “I thought everybody was supportive of the undocumented students who go here, but it was a moment where you realize that there are a lot of people not supportive of the individuals.”
Flournoy-Hooker said he thinks the incident was an example of how students have historically attacked marginalized individuals on campus and thinks administrators will be more inclined to respond if a large number of students collectively email them.
“This is not an isolated incident … it’s nothing new,” he said. “I think it is better to do it in numbers because (UCLA administrators) will be more forced to address the issue.”
Watson said he thinks the “Ten Things I Hate About Mexico” event with conservative commentator Milo Yiannopoulos that Bruins Republicans canceled last month also showed the administration’s lack of support for the undocumented community.
“You cannot see this event separate from the Milo event,” Watson said. “The fact that the administration didn’t say anything until after the event was canceled, I know, outraged a lot of individuals.”
Corona said USAC members plan to send a joint email or individual emails to put pressure on administrators to respond to the students’ actions.
“Two student actions don’t speak for the whole student body, but if you look at it in a different way, you realize that we were only there for 11 minutes,” she said. “What other students would have done the same thing, had we been there longer?”