A second day of protest over the status of UCLA's Chicano studies program was peaceful Wednesday even as campus officials and Chicano activists traded accusations about Tuesday's demonstration that allegedly caused more than $50,000 damage at the faculty center and led to 99 arrests.
Attracting a crowd of more than 600, an afternoon rally in front of Royce Hall called for UCLA Chancellor Charles E. Young to reverse his recent decision not to upgrade Chicano studies to an independent department. No arrests were made and no damage was reported, campus officials said.
Berta Cueva, one of the organizers of Wednesday's demonstration, said that she regretted Tuesday's violence but that the controversy about Young's decision would continue. By denying departmental status to Chicano studies, UCLA "just emphasizes the Eurocentric academic perspective" and denigrates other cultures so important to California life and history, said Cueva.
Chancellor Young was reported to be in Japan this week meeting with alumni and potential donors and could not be reached for comment. Two weeks ago, Young said that keeping Chicano studies an interdisciplinary program preserves its intellectual vitality.
Senior Vice Chancellor Andrea Rich said Wednesday that the protests would not lead Young to reverse his opinion. "That decision has been made," she said.
Of the 89 demonstrators who occupied the faculty center Tuesday, 83 were charged on suspicion of felony vandalism and six were cited for misdemeanor trespassing. Many of the 83 remained in jail Wednesday night on what their supporters said was an unconscionably high bond of $10,000 each. UCLA authorities then requested that the protesters be released without bail and that most charges be reduced to trespassing. But a spokeswoman at the county jail said she expected the releases would not take place until court hearings this morning.
Ten others arrested outside the faculty center were cited for failure to disperse or trespassing and were not taken to jail.
Chicano community activists alleged that trouble broke out at Tuesday's demonstration only because of overreaction by UCLA officials, who called in more than 200 Los Angeles police officers to bolster a campus security force. At a Wednesday morning news conference at an Olvera Street restaurant, Mexican-American leaders also denounced Young and questioned whether the faculty center damage--which ranged from broken windows to vandalized artwork--was as severe as UCLA officials contend it was.
"The real criminals, my friends, are not the students. They are heroes," said John Fernandez, who is co-chairman of a community group lobbying for a Chicano studies department. But Rich denied that police provoked the conflict, insisting that she did not call for help from LAPD until after demonstrators had broken into the building and were vandalizing it.
Meanwhile, state senators moved to at least temporarily hold up action on a $838,000 plan for a law school addition at UCLA. The delay in a budget subcommittee was urged by Sen. Art Torres (D-Los Angeles), who supports the establishment of a Chicano studies department.