Students and University of California at Berkeley employees are setting up an encampment on the campus today to protest tuition and fee increases for university students and funding cuts to all levels of public education.
The encampment will be in the style of "Occupy Wall Street," "Occupy Oakland" and other encampments across the world that have been established to bring attention to a broad range of economic and political issues.
The camp is only anticipated to last two days, but some protest organizers said it could go on longer. Many other "Occupy" encampments have been set up indefinitely.
Tanya Smith, president of the Berkeley chapter of UPTE-CWA 9119, a union of health care workers, researchers and technical employees, said her union supports the protests.
"We passed a resolution supporting the Occupy movement and supporting their basic needs," Smith said.
"At least a couple of members have talked about camping out," she said. "We want to help students with resources to the extent that we are able, we certainly will be around them and with them."
The protests began with picket lines and "teach-outs" at several locations around the campus this morning. A rally began at Sproul Plaza at noon and was scheduled to be followed by a short march and a general assembly at 1:30 p.m.
More than 800 people said on a Facebook page set up for "Occupy Cal" that they would be attending today's protest.
Smith said protesters would likely discuss how long the camp will stay at today's general assembly.
"I think some of those decisions will come up there. I don't think it's going to be ongoing but I'm not sure," Smith said.
On Monday, UC Berkeley Chancellor Robert Birgeneau sent a letter to students, faculty and staff saying that while the university supports the principles behind the Occupy Wall Street movement, camping will not be allowed on campus.
"Any activities such as pulling fire alarms, occupying buildings, setting up encampments, graffiti, or other destructive actions that disrupt with anyone's ability to conduct regular activities -- go to class, study, carry out their research, etc. -- will not be tolerated," the letter stated.
Smith said she objects to the characterization of an encampment as disruptive.
"This is not intended to disturb anyone's education, it's intended to broaden education," she said.
Protests are also planned for the Nov. 16 UC Regents meeting at UC San Francisco's Mission Bay campus.