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A question of safety...and address

UCSD close to getting its way with the Ché Café, but the collective is resolute

UCSD pulled the trigger last week. The school went to court November 19 to obtain a writ of possession for the Ché Café, to evict the collective that has operated the café and venue for 34 years.

If UCSD’s administration had not provided the wrong address of the Ché Café to the court, it would have been served, and today the Ché collective would be out on the street.

It is assumed that the mistake will be corrected and that the five-day notice to vacate will be executed any day.

In spite of a 14,000-signature petition turned in to Chancellor Pradeep Khosla urging him to negotiate in good faith about keeping the Ché open, and in the midst of unsubstantiated concerns about the safety of the building, it appears the University administration is proceeding with the eviction.

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“This is the only sober and safe space on campus that provides for marginalized groups that don’t have a place to go elsewhere on campus,” says Josh Kenchel, who as an undergraduate student sat on the Associate Students (AS) council and now, as a UC graduate student, still supports the Ché.

A press release from the Ché Café Cooperative outlines how the new Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs, Juan Gonzalez, told the AS on November 12 that the eviction would go forward because of concern over “safety” of the building.

Monty Kroopkin, a spokesman for the Ché Café Collective, says the Ché is fully insured, has never been red-tagged for a safety concern, and that UCSD’s facility director John Payne wrote after an April 17 inspection, the facility “is looking good in terms of safety,” and that there was only “one minor item [of concern]” in a space adjacent to the Ché.

Kenchel believes there is no threat to safety. “They are giving that reason because public safety is the one way they can scare people into thinking there is an imminent need. There is no evidence that there is any imminent safety threat.”

Kenchel says that at an AS meeting October 29, the council voted to resolve that the administration meet in good faith to work out any problems without executing the eviction. But after that meeting, Kenchel says AS president Robby Boparai was called to a meeting with UCSD Assistant Vice Chancellor for Student Life, Gary Ratcliff, who convinced Boparai to advocate for a different resolution at the next AS meeting, November 12. At that meeting the council voted 17–11 to accept that new resolution, which said ongoing talks between the Ché collective and the school should continue after the Ché surrendered the building.

“We couldn’t get the AS council to see that this compromise was not a compromise at all, that all it was doing was giving the administration exactly what it wanted,” says Kenchel. He says that vote seemingly gave the administration the nod to execute the eviction.

It is unclear whether sheriff marshals or UCSD police would execute the eviction.

UC professor Charles Thorpe stated a concern that violence could erupt if UC police enforces the Ché Café eviction.

“What I’m worried about is if the administration does go forward, there are people who are devoted enough and refuse to evacuate in an act of civil disobedience,” Kenchel tells the Reader. “We’ve seen administrations react with violence, including using pepper spray at UC Davis.”

A request for comment from AS president Boparai was not returned.

Kroopkin says those interested in getting involved should visit checafe.blogspot.

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UCSD pulled the trigger last week. The school went to court November 19 to obtain a writ of possession for the Ché Café, to evict the collective that has operated the café and venue for 34 years.

If UCSD’s administration had not provided the wrong address of the Ché Café to the court, it would have been served, and today the Ché collective would be out on the street.

It is assumed that the mistake will be corrected and that the five-day notice to vacate will be executed any day.

In spite of a 14,000-signature petition turned in to Chancellor Pradeep Khosla urging him to negotiate in good faith about keeping the Ché open, and in the midst of unsubstantiated concerns about the safety of the building, it appears the University administration is proceeding with the eviction.

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“This is the only sober and safe space on campus that provides for marginalized groups that don’t have a place to go elsewhere on campus,” says Josh Kenchel, who as an undergraduate student sat on the Associate Students (AS) council and now, as a UC graduate student, still supports the Ché.

A press release from the Ché Café Cooperative outlines how the new Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs, Juan Gonzalez, told the AS on November 12 that the eviction would go forward because of concern over “safety” of the building.

Monty Kroopkin, a spokesman for the Ché Café Collective, says the Ché is fully insured, has never been red-tagged for a safety concern, and that UCSD’s facility director John Payne wrote after an April 17 inspection, the facility “is looking good in terms of safety,” and that there was only “one minor item [of concern]” in a space adjacent to the Ché.

Kenchel believes there is no threat to safety. “They are giving that reason because public safety is the one way they can scare people into thinking there is an imminent need. There is no evidence that there is any imminent safety threat.”

Kenchel says that at an AS meeting October 29, the council voted to resolve that the administration meet in good faith to work out any problems without executing the eviction. But after that meeting, Kenchel says AS president Robby Boparai was called to a meeting with UCSD Assistant Vice Chancellor for Student Life, Gary Ratcliff, who convinced Boparai to advocate for a different resolution at the next AS meeting, November 12. At that meeting the council voted 17–11 to accept that new resolution, which said ongoing talks between the Ché collective and the school should continue after the Ché surrendered the building.

“We couldn’t get the AS council to see that this compromise was not a compromise at all, that all it was doing was giving the administration exactly what it wanted,” says Kenchel. He says that vote seemingly gave the administration the nod to execute the eviction.

It is unclear whether sheriff marshals or UCSD police would execute the eviction.

UC professor Charles Thorpe stated a concern that violence could erupt if UC police enforces the Ché Café eviction.

“What I’m worried about is if the administration does go forward, there are people who are devoted enough and refuse to evacuate in an act of civil disobedience,” Kenchel tells the Reader. “We’ve seen administrations react with violence, including using pepper spray at UC Davis.”

A request for comment from AS president Boparai was not returned.

Kroopkin says those interested in getting involved should visit checafe.blogspot.

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