Student Activism: Berkeley Responds to Wheeler Hall Criticism, But Big Questions Remain

The following is a post from Student Activism, the original post can be found here: Berkeley Responds to Wheeler Hall Criticism, But Big Questions Remain

UC Berkeley spokesperson has Dan Mogulof responded to some of the questions raised about last Friday’s Wheeler Hall arrests.

In a story in yesterday’s Berkeley Daily Planet, Mogulof said that the final decision to conduct mass arrests was made on Thursday afternoon, about twelve hours before the arrests actually took place. He argued that it was not possible to give warning of the decision to arrest because “in this day of texting and Twitter and Facebook, a warning would have served as an invitation for all kinds of people to come running to the scene.”

This makes a certain amount of sense, as an answer to one narrow question. It’s likely that if the administration had announced on Thursday afternoon that Wheeler Hall would be cleared that night, some students would have joined the protest in solidarity. But it should be noted that there would have been other consequences of such a warning, too. Hard questions would have been asked about the decision to conduct arrests, particularly in light of the previous three days’ tacit acceptance of the occupation. Faculty would have criticized the administration’s plans, and urged them to reverse course. Media would have been on hand when the arrests finally happened.

Yes, the decision to arrest without warning made the process of carrying out those arrests logistically simpler. But it did so in significant part by allowing the university — as Berkeley’s Student Advocate’s Office said this week — to evade responsibility for its actions.

And Mogulof’s comments to the Daily Planet do nothing to answer the crucial question of why there was no order to disperse given when police entered Wheeler Hall before dawn on Friday. Such an order — given at four thirty in the morning — would hardly have spurred a mad rush to Wheeler. His comments also fail to explain why students who were barefoot and in their pyjamas were not given the opportunity to dress before being arrested, or why those students were transported thirty miles across county lines for booking and held for an entire day before being released.

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