UC Merced 2020 Project Groundbreaking interrupted by Student Protesters

Today UC Merced had a groundbreaking ceremony for its new billion dollar construction project. What the official press release doesn’t mention is there was a very prominent student protest at the event.

The person being introduced when the students started their protest was Monica Lozano, Chairwoman of the Board of Regents, who has served as a UC Regent since 2001. Let’s take a second to learn what the UC has to write about her:

Monica C. Lozano is the current Chairman of the Board. She is also the Former Chairman, U.S. Hispanic Media, Inc. Ms. Lozano also serves on various boards including the Rockefeller and Weingart Foundations.
Lozano was appointed by Governor Davis in 2001 for a 12 year term which expired in 2013. She was re-appointed by Governor Brown in 2014 to a term ending in 2022.

Wow, she sounds like a great regent, right? Well, read her Wikipedia entry on where she also works.

Ms. Lozano is on the board of UnionBanCal and a director at Bank of America.

The person that was actually interrupted by the protesters, our Chancellor Dorothy Leland, makes over $400,000/year in salary and benefits. In a place where the median household income is right around $43,000. Heads up Chancellor Leland, losing your notes (even as a joke) when you make as much as the POTUS while living in an incredibly disadvantaged area isn’t endearing, its annoyingly incompetent. And real leaders don’t silence protesters, they let them say what they want and then engage them as human beings. Know how to prove someone who is chanting that they don’t get respect wrong? Give them respect. If anything, you proved their point. Talking over people isn’t dignity and respect. Even if they aren’t giving everyone else dignity and respect, you took the low road and dished it right back by talking over them and acting as if nothing was going on.

And of course, Janet Napolitano spoke next, who, after taking the stage, looked at the protesters marching away and growled “I wouldn’t miss this day for anything”. She makes more than $600,000/year in salary and benefits.

As the protesters neared the entrance of the bowl there was already an additional speaker being set up by a few scrambling staff. As soon as it was plugged in, due to the distance and added sound, you basically couldn’t hear the protesters. Janet Napolitano, and the people who this photo-op groundbreaking was really for, don’t have to listen to your crap. Not one of the speakers gave these students — their stakeholders, even if they are being rude — the time of day. Some people might say “take it to the proper channels”, “things like chancellor hours exist for a reason”, and yes, they do, and they are a part of real activism, but so is this, and just because other paths to change exist doesn’t delegitimize this one.

Regents are appointed by the governor and serve 12 year terms, which means they don’t answer to anyone and get put where they are because they are big money donors to a gubernatorial candidate. Whether you agree with or disagree with these protesters and what they are protesting, the behavior of our admins, their salaries, and the UC’s budgeting as a whole needs serious attention.