In what could be a major development in keeping the Ché Café alive, UCSD Chancellor Pradeep Khosla has for the first time agreed to meet with key members of the Ché Collective 2 p.m. Wednesday.
The administration evicted the 35-year-old vegetarian café/music venue/meeting space on March 24, drawing some 80 protestors, many of whom said they would sit and get arrested for the cause.
Khosla has been mum since the eviction notice was posted, which says that any time from 180 days when the notice is posted, county sheriffs can physically remove all tenants and change the locks.
Devoted volunteers have manned the Ché on a 24/7 basis. “This occupation has become the longest in University of California history,” says Ché spokeswoman Susan Wingfield-Ritter.
Wingfield-Ritter urges all Ché supporters on Wednesday to “celebrate the 113th day of occupation” and show up for a rally outside the Chancellor’s office during the meeting between the Chancellor and five Ché reps. She said after the meeting supporters “will make music and dance from the Chancellor’s office to the C.H.E. Café to continue the occupation.
In October when the eviction process was being heard in court, Khosla received a 14,000-signature petition urging him to negotiate in good faith. The petition said the administration based the eviction on “lies” about the safety of the Ché building.
That request for a meeting was ignored until now.
What could come out of the meeting? A request for a statement from the Chancellor via UCSD’s public information officer Carmen Linares was not returned.
But the Che’s Wingfield-Ritter says the Ché is preparing for both plan A (“He calls off the eviction”) and plan B (“He doesn’t”).
Two days before the meeting she tells the Reader she is becoming optimistic. A big reason she said was because on May 21 the local Save Our Heritage Organization designated the Che building as one of the ten local historical sites most “endangered” for demolition. “I’m concerned if we lose they will raze the building to the ground.” The building was originally part of USMC’s Camp Matthews and was moved to its current site in 1966.
Another point of optimism is that attorney Bryan Pease is appealing the eviction. Thursday is his deadline to file his opening brief. He says the actual trial could be a month or two away.
“Plus we got hundreds of signatures of support during the UCSD alumni weekend on the first weekend of June and letters of support have come from professors and chairs of departments from universities on the East Coast and Europe.
“I know the Chancellor has never been inside the building. We want to invite him to stop by… He is supposed the be the chancellor who embraces diversity and inclusion. One of his diversity scholarship students is freshman Esperanza Soliz-Perez. She stopped by the Che and talked to the students and saw our ‘Black Lives Matter’ wall and told us she felt really at home here more at that it wasn't like anywhere else on campus.”
“As a student of color who has a passion for the humanities, it is an understatement to say I feel like an outsider to UCSD’s culture or lack thereof,” Soliz-Perez said in a statement. “Why establish a bridge for students of color to gain access to higher education with the intention of destroying bridge and the history with which we identify?”
The Ché volunteers continue operations knowing that per the eviction notice, sheriff deputies could still arrive any time during their Monday-through-Friday hours of operation to drag out all occupants and change the locks.
This month there have been 14 live music events at the Ché. The Ché usually charges between $5 and $8 for each all-age, alcohol-free show which features local and nationally-touring bands. Sleepwalk and Future Death appear Friday, and High Curbs and Peach Fuzz appear Saturday.
“Most of the money we get from the live shows goes to our legal fund,” says Wingfield-Ritter. “Our retainer for the attorney is $1,000 plus we had to come up with $500 to file the appeal.”
The eviction is called off!
For the first time UCSD Chancellor Pradeep Khosla met with the Ché Collective about the status of the Ché on Wednesday afternoon. Previously only the vice chancellors and assistant vice chancellors spoke for the administration, telegraphing that they wanted the Ché to go away.
Khosla, who is known for hosting short meetings, spent over an hour with the Ché reps on Wednesday. The hour-plus meeting was continued to Thursday morning at 8.
Although an official press release about the meeting (co-written by the Ché Collective and UCSD) will not be released until next week, here are the vitals, according to Monty Kropkin, cofounder of the Ché Café Support Network..
The eviction has been called off for a period of 45 days. During that time, the Ché and the administration will work together on approving what building improvements need to be made so that the Ché Café can continue operation free of charges that the building is unsafe. The initial eviction, posted March 24, said that sheriffs could change the locks any time within the next 180 days.
Vice Chancellor Juan Gonzalez apologized to the collective if anything he said offended the collective.