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Bruins in Paris

Op-ed: The instructors, staff of Dodd Hall demand that our workplace be restored

By Dodd Hall Instructors And Staff

June 12, 2024 6:54 p.m.

This post was updated June 30 at 9:10 p.m.

Editor’s Note: This submission is an edited version of a statement signed by over 100 UCLA faculty and staff who work in Dodd Hall. Please see the original letter to view the complete list of signatories.

We, the undersigned instructors and staff of Dodd Hall, demand that our workplace be restored as a place of study. Within the last month, Dodd Hall has been subject to intensive policing that has not only disrupted its educational purpose but repeatedly endangered its occupants and has transformed the building into an unsafe working environment.

The most recent example is the police violence of Monday. That day, nearly 100 unarmed UCLA students from the UC Divest Coalition and Students for Justice in Palestine staged a peaceful funeral march to protest the murder of over 37,000 Palestinians by the Israeli military in response to the murder of over 1,100 and the taking hostage of 253 Israelis by Hamas on Oct. 7.

The march, starting at 2 p.m. at Bruin Plaza, and moving across several locations on campus, culminated at 7 p.m. in the Shapiro Courtyard behind Dodd Hall. The goal of their march was a reading of the names of each Palestinian killed.

Amid this peaceful protest and powerful act of commemoration, Dodd Hall, where our offices and the classrooms in which we teach are housed, went in seconds from being the site of final exams to being transformed into a detainment center for roughly 25 people including students who were arrested by the joint forces of UCPD, Culver City Police Department, LAPD and the riot police of the California Highway Patrol. Among those was at least one of our Dodd faculty colleagues.

Dodd Hall was blocked off by militarized police forces who ambushed students in order to conduct arrests and then pushed away remaining faculty and students with armed officers. As documented, the police fired rubber bullets, resulting in the hospitalization of at least one student, as well as pepper bullets that caused physical harm to several students and faculty.

Within the last six weeks, the University of California Office of the President and UCLA administration have over and over again responded to peaceful demonstrations by students on campus by deploying excessive militarized police force.

On May 6, a peaceful sit-in by demonstrators inside Dodd Hall was escalated by the intervention of police and outside antagonists, which aggressively displaced students and instructors from classrooms and offices onto the street.

A second peaceful sit-in by demonstrators May 23 was met with a similar display of escalatory policing.

Many eyewitness reports, including the experiences of several Dodd Hall occupants, as well as documentary video and photographic evidence, support the claim that the violence was incited by police and security, rather than the protesting students.

As a case in point, it was police that brutally snatched a student chanting pro-Palestinian slogans Monday and dragged them up the main stairs of Dodd Hall.

This act cannot be erased, and we will remember it whenever we use those stairs to walk to class or our offices.

This unjustifiable show of militarized police violence underscores that far from serving as a site of study, Dodd Hall is now an unsafe working environment, a space to detain our students, and the locus of surveilling academic speech, especially when that speech is pro-Palestinian.

In the classrooms of Dodd Hall, UCLA students regularly encounter and meaningfully explore histories of race, colonialism and genocide through the critical studies of the humanities.

We are appalled that our own spaces are being violated in ways exceptional to the long history of student protest.

The transformation of Dodd Hall from a site of study into one of police violence and detainment sends a clear signal about the actual value of humanistic and justice-oriented learning at UCLA.

 

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