*** For Immediate Release ***
VICTORY FOR THE STUDENT MOVEMENT AND THE UC LICK OBSERVATORY!
Press Conference at UC Berkeley
SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 8th, 10:15 AM
UC Berkeley Sproul Plaza (intersection of Bancroft & Telegraph).
Victory Rally and Press Conference at Lick Observatory
SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 8th, 1:30 PM
UC LICK OBSERVATORY
7281 Mt Hamilton Rd, San Jose, California 95140
The student movement in defense of public education and the ground swell of student and community support for Astronomy programs at the University of California secured a significant victory this week regarding the future of the UC Lick Observatory. BAMN, the Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action, Integration, and Immigrant Rights and Fight for Equality By Any Means Necessary, will be holding a victory rally at the Lick Observatory this Saturday.
Dr. Benjamin Lynch, a research scientist at the Space Sciences Laboratory at UC Berkeley and organizer with BAMN, spearheaded the petition drive to save Lick that garnered thousands of signatures within the first week of its launch. Having led class presentations at UC Berkeley and UC Santa Cruz that garnered enthusiastic student support, Dr. Lynch said, “We knew this attack on Lick was ideological and that, if we organized, the student movement could stop it. It was an absolute scandal for UC President Janet Napolitano to think she could get away with just shutting down and privatizing one of the world’s renowned public astronomical observatories. It was a huge overreach.”
Dr. Lynch continued, “In our petition, our first demand was to ‘Keep the Lick Observatory open as a publicly funded student research facility dedicated to education. No sale or lease of any observatory to the private sector.’ Napolitano lost and the student movement won.”
The full petition text can be found here: http://www.bamn.com/savelick
In an October 29, 2014 letter from Executive Vice President Aimee Dorr to the Interim Director of the University of California Observatories (UCO) Professor Claire Max, Dorr wrote, “Given the current state of affairs and trajectory for UCO and UC astronomy, we are rescinding the stipulations in our September 16, 2013 letter as to how Lick is to be funded and managed. It is no longer UCOP’s intention to require that Lick Observatory be self supporting, begin a glide path to self-supporting status no later than FY 2016-17, or be managed by an entity other than UCO.” [emphasis added]
Interim Director Prof. Max summarized the UC Office of the President’s change in policy, “There is no longer any ramp-down of UC support. UC is to be the manager/proprietor of Lick. There is sufficient funding in our UCO budget plan, which extends to June 30, 2019, to continue Lick Observatory funding at its current level. Lick will remain available for student education and for research, as well as for the development of new instrumentation technologies.”
BAMN organizer Bianca Huntley, a senior at UC Berkeley and a history and ethnic studies major, said, “We have the opportunity to use the momentum of the Lick victory to build the new independent, integrated mass civil rights, immigrant rights, and student movement. Our movement is committed to defeating the annual 5% fee hikes that are now being proposed by Janet Napolitano and the UC Regents and to remove Janet Napolitano removed as UC President. We set out to ‘Save the Universe-ity!’ Our work to stop the privatization and the defend the right to public education for all grows stronger from here.”