UC San Diego Drops Misconduct Charges Against Academic Student Workers

The university dropped student misconduct charges against 59 academic student workers and will not pursue further legal action.
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Margaret Attridge is a news reporter for BestColleges focusing on higher education news stories in California. She graduated from the University of Maryland, College Park in May 2022 with a BA in journalism and government and politics....
Published on November 6, 2023
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  • In May, academic student workers at UC San Diego interrupted an alumni event to draw attention to unresolved contract issues.
  • Approximately a month after the demonstration, the university announced student misconduct charges, including physical assault, against those who participated.
  • All charges have now been dropped, and the university will not pursue further legal action.

The University of California, San Diego (UC San Diego) has dropped student misconduct charges against academic student workers and will not pursue further legal action, the university announced.

In May, the university leveled administrative charges against 59 graduate student workers accused of interrupting an alumni gala to protest the implementation of their new contracts.

A group of those unionized workers interrupted the May 5 alumni gala at the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego as Chancellor Pradeep Khosla took the stage. Protesters tried to hand him a cardboard sign that read, "Most Overpaid Worker," while others used the microphone to voice their grievances.

UC San Diego alleged that protesters "rushed" and "charged" the stage, physically bumping into Khosla and taking the microphone away, according to a document obtained by BestColleges.

Additionally, three more workers were arrested in June for allegedly chalking protest slogans on campus, according to the academic workers union.

The International Union, United Automobile, Aerospace, and Agricultural Implement Workers of America (UAW) represents some 48,000 student researchers, postdocs, and teaching assistants across the UC system's 10 campuses. The UC San Diego graduate students involved in the protest are members of UAW 5810, which represents postdoctoral scholars and academic researchers, and UAW 2865, which represents academic workers.

Udayon Tandon, the UAW 2865 unit chair at UC San Diego, said that hundreds of academic workers across the state rallied to protest the charges.

"Over the past months, UC management has resorted to unlawful retaliation in a desperate attempt to chill our union's organizing and avoid their obligation to honor our contracts," Tandon said in a press release emailed to BestColleges.

"Today, those efforts paid off, and we clearly demonstrated that these unlawful attempts to silence workers will not work now or in the future."

UC, UAW Issue Joint Statement

In a joint statement with UAW 2865, the University of California said its interests throughout the process have been "public property, protecting the continuity of University operations and events, and ensuring accountability related to the underlying behavior."

The statement also states that UAW "regrets" events that occurred due to the protests in May and "that the discourse created negative impressions regarding the University's actions in response to these events."

"The UAW and University recognize and agree that protest activities must at all times be peaceful and consistent with standards for appropriate labor actions, including applicable laws and policies against vandalism and damaging University property and applicable laws and policies against the disruption of University events," the statement read.

"The UAW and the University support lawful First Amendment and protected labor activities which are consistent with reasonable rules, regulations, and standards."