In what appears to be a last-minute effort to thwart eviction, the Che Cafe Collective is holding a rally at its University of California, San Diego (UCSD) location at 5 a.m. on Tuesday, March 24.
After a year of legal wrangling and back-and-forth between the co-op and the UCSD administration and student advisory boards, the school officially served the collective a 5-day eviction notice on March 17. The order mandates that the 73-year-old building (located at 1000 Scholars Drive) be vacated by March 24, and anyone opting not to vacate voluntarily can and may be removed forcibly by law enforcement agents.
The Che Cafe Collective posted a statement on their official Facebook page in the late hours of Friday, March 20.
"Dear friends, as many of you may already know, we received our formal eviction notice last week. We will not go out without a fight. Please join us on Tuesday, March 24th at the Che Cafe for a rally to support the space. We will be meeting at 5am, and we expect the UCSD administration to come at 6am. Come help us make some noise. Come help us make our voices heard. Come help us save this space. There is no education without community. We love you all.”
Another Facebook post followed on Saturday, March 21, explaining the rally's purpose: “Together, we can prevent the closure of the Che. We know that in the past, the only thing that has ever prevented the university administration from shutting down the Che is community pressure and direct action. We cannot win this fight without your help – and it has all come down to this day. Please show up at 5 a.m. or earlier with picket signs, noise makers and megaphones.”
The Che Cafe/UCSD battle has raged on since May 2014, when the University Center Advisory Board (UCAB) -- a student-run committee -- voted to cut funding for the partially student-fee funded club. The school cited safety hazards and imminent, extensive repairs ordered by the campus fire marshal and an overall lack of current student interest in the club as primary reasons for putting the collective under the gun. [Read the original SoundDiego story on the vote here]
The co-op has remained steadfast in its assertion that the building poses no safety hazards, and has offered up recent correspondence from the university's own Fire Marshal to the collective, expressing satisfaction with the building's fire safety, and the group's efforts in keeping the facility safe.
However, after a series of student advisory board votes in the school's favor, UCSD terminated the collective’s month-to-month lease on June 13. In July, the co-op went on the offensive and sued the school for the "unlawful" termination of its lease and alleged collusion between the Graduate Student Association (GSA) and UCSD in decertifying the club [Read the SoundDiego report here].
On Oct. 21, San Diego Superior Court Judge Katherine Bacal ruled in favor of UCSD, arguing that the co-op had not requested the proper dispute resolution procedure it was required to make per the terms of its lease -- which ultimately meant the university was then free to terminate the lease at any time. The Che Cafe immediately appealed the ruling. [Read the SoundDiego report here.]
The co-op regards the eviction as entirely unethical. According to a Che Café Collective spokesman, Monty Reed Kroopkin, the March 17 eviction notice has been unjustly served: “The appeal the Collective filed of the eviction lawsuit ruling is still pending a ruling from the appellate court.”
The eviction follows on the heels of a joint proposal issued Feb. 9, 2015 by Associated Students (AS) and GSA ad hoc committees -- which recommended the Che Café be shut down for a period of 18 months and requested the collective to program outside the building until the end of spring 2016, "at which time metrics regarding student involvement in programming (sign-in sheets, ticket sales, etc.) can be evaluated for further action." [Read the proposal in full here.]
The presidents of the AS and GSA committees issued a joint statement on March 2 asking the collective to embrace the proposal and work with them on demonstrating "that they can serve as a student-centered organization." They also requested that the co-op vacate the building so that "safety concerns with the building can be addressed." [Read the statement in full here.]
Representatives for the Che Cafe balked at the proposal and issued the following response on Feb. 25.
"The C.H.E. Cafe Collective is opposed to any solution that includes the collective leaving the C.H.E. Cafe Building. To leave the building would be tantamount to forfeiting the property. The UC San Diego administration has a history of refusing to allow organizations, such as the Craft Center, to reclaim buildings after they have left. We also feel the reasoning behind the request to leave the building is problematic. There is not a need to vacate. No safety issues with the building have been properly demonstrated, and student support of the C.H.E. Cafe Collective is strong and continues to grow with each meeting and event that is being held at the C.H.E. Cafe building."
The press release went on to say that the co-op would continue to work with AS and GSA to halt the eviction process. However, according to a March 3 post on the group's official Facebook page, university administration had asked that they "voluntarily vacate the building by March 14, 2015. Failure to comply with this notice will result in a posting of the court-ordered eviction."
That eviction came March 17, after the collective hosted Che Fest 2015, a 19-band all-day/night benefit show at the club, on March 14.
SoundDiego will continue to provide updates on any further developments.