The mood at the new Occupy Cal encampment was calm Wednesday morning. Photos: Frances Dinkelspiel

A few dozen bleary eyed protestors who spent Tuesday night camped on the steps of Sproul Hall vowed Wednesday morning to stay in UC Berkeley’s main square as long as possible, even though UC Berkeley police announced numerous times Wednesday morning that the tent encampment was illegal.

Now that police have rousted the Occupy Wall Street encampments in New York’s Zuccotti Park, and at the Frank Ogawa Plaza in Oakland, it is more important than ever to maintain a physical presence at Cal, some protesters argued. For that reason, many declined to go over to San Francisco today to join other Occupy protesters in picketing the offices of some of the UC Regents.

“We took the space last Wednesday in solidarity with all the other Occupy movements,” said Shawndeez Jadali, a first-year student who is majoring in Peace and Conflict Studies. “To neglect it, we would be defeated.”

Even though the tents erected on the steps of Sproul Hall are illegal, protestors tried to comply with other rules so as not to prompt arrests by police. Most of them stayed up all night since sleeping in a public space on campus is not allowed. And many who were not students left around midnight and returned around 6:00 am since campus rules say only students, faculty, and staff can be on campus during that time.

Groups of police officers from UC Berkeley and the Alameda County Sheriff’s Office milled around Sproul Plaza Wednesday, but kept their distance from the encampment, except to periodically announce that it was illegal. Many protestors think police will wait until dark to try and roust the tent encampment.

The encampment was relatively small, a sharp contrast to the thousands who turned out Tuesday night to hear Robert Reich deliver the Mario Savio lecture. Estimates of the people who crammed into Sproul Plaza to hear him varied from 3,000 to 10,000 people.

Occupy protesters relax on a couch on steps of Sproul Hall
This Occupy protester borrowed a gas mask from a friend who used to work at the Chevron refinery
Shawhdeez Jadali has spent a week on the steps of Sproul. Since she is a Peace and Studies major, she thinks the protests are complementing her academic studies by providing real-life experience

Cal students vote to set up Occupy camp on campus [11.15.11]
Rally begins after teach-ins at Occupy Cal Day of Action [11.15.11]
After Oakland eviction, focus shifts to UC Berkeley [11.14.11]
Councilmember’s open letter re. police force on campus [11.12.11]
Police use of force at Occupy Cal gets national attention [11.11.11]
Occupy Cal arrests total 40 as protesters plan next moves [11.10.11]
After protests and arrests, calm returns to Cal campus [11.10.11]
Protesters vote to set up Occupy Cal camp at UC Berkeley [11.09.11] 

Frances Dinkelspiel, Berkeleyside and CItyside co-founder, is a journalist and author. Her first book, Towers of Gold: How One Jewish Immigrant Named Isaias Hellman Created California, published in November...