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UC Berkeley Protesters Occupy Registrar's Office, Leave on Their Own

By Patricia Decker (BCN)
Friday April 06, 2012 - 10:32:00 PM

About 20 people who were occupying a University of California at Berkeley building today to protest what organizers say is a lack of minority students enrolled at the university left of their own accord late this afternoon, a school spokeswoman said. 

Campus spokeswoman Janet Gilmore, when reached by phone this afternoon, confirmed that there were about 20 individuals inside the office this afternoon and that they left of their own accord at around 4:30 p.m. 

"They all got up as a group, chanting, clapping and marched right out the door," Gilmore said. 

The group of Berkeley students, high school students and community supporters were occupying the registrar's office on the first floor of Sproul Hall, the school's administration building. 

The occupation, organized by the civil rights group By Any Means Necessary, or BAMN, comes one week after the school sent out admission decisions. 

According to protesters, even though minority students comprise about 50 percent of the state's high-school graduates, they make up about only 18 percent of UC Berkeley freshmen. 

BAMN attorney and organizer Ronald Cruz said that about 75 people participated in a noon rally preceding the occupation. 

Cruz said that protesters presented university officials with a petition and list of demands that had garnered 6,000 signatures. 

The protesters are demanding that UC Berkeley immediately double underrepresented minority student enrollment for this fall's class and that the university and the Alameda County District Attorney's Office drop charges against Occupy Cal demonstrators from a November action. 

"We are demanding an end to discrimination in UC Berkeley's admissions policies," BAMN organizer and UC Berkeley student Matt Williams said this afternoon. 

On Monday, a federal appeals court in San Francisco rejected a challenge by BAMN and 46 minority students to a voter-approved ban on affirmative action in UC admissions. 

According to a written ruling issued by the court, the three-judge 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals panel was bound by a 1997 decision of the same court upholding the ban, which was part of the voter initiative Proposition 209, enacted in 1996. 

The proposition bans state and local government preferences for minority groups and women in public education, employment and contracting. 

BAMN said it plans to file an appeal to the decision by April 16. 

"We cannot wait for the courts to bring justice," Cruz wrote in an email today. "BAMN will continue the fight to ensure that Latina/o and black students have access to the University of California."