Sociology professor Charles Thorpe speaks in defense of the CHE Collective

The following is an email we have received from Sociology professor Charles Thorpe, who was unable to attend last Monday’s meeting with the Chancellor. I have received his permission to post his message online:


Please could you tell the Chancellor that I’m sorry I couldn’t be there today. What I wanted to say was that the University administration should see the Che not as a problem, but  as a resource for the campus that needs to be protected and encouraged. It is a place for students that is their own space where they can engage in artistic and musical creativity, ecological projects, and political discussion. It is extremely valuable as a contribution to the cultural life of the campus.

We want our students to think for themselves, but in order to do this they have to have an environment conducive to that. An environment filled with Starbucks, Subway, and Burger King doesn’t do that. The Che does. It is especially important because of the inhospitability of La Jolla to student and youth culture. In addition, the Che is an important part of the history of our campus. Do we want to create a sense of historical place and awareness at UCSD, or  do we want to demolish our history to make way for bland commercialism? I think that a university should have a sense of its own history, and the Che should be supported for that reason.

Sending in the police to evict the Che would be disastrous. I, as a faculty member, do not want to see our students arrested merely because they identify with and support a crucial part of the campus and oppose its destruction. We owe our students more respect  and better treatment than that. Student organizations are bound to run into financial or organizational difficulties from time to time. There’s bound to be a high turnover of people etc. The university administration should look for ways to support and provide assistance to students.  Instead, there has been a history of the administration being unsupportive and at times heavy-handed toward the students who run the Che. There needs to be a cultural change as to how the administration interacts with these kinds of student organizations, and especially the co-ops which are a wonderful part of our campus and which should be celebrated.

Charles Thorpe