David Buscho led a crowd of thousands at the University of California-Davis, near Sacramento Monday in what has become their rallying cry.
"Our university!" they chanted.
"I want us to take back this university brick-by-brick, and we will do it with dignity and respect!" Buscho said.
The protesters, reports CBS News national correspondent Ben Tracy, are outraged because university police officers shot pepper spray directly into the faces of students balking over tuition hikes last week -- part of the "Occupy" movement.
Buscho was one of them.
"I had my eyes closed," he says. "My arm was around my girlfriend. I kissed her on the forehead, and then all hell broke loose. My entire body was eventually covered in pepper spray. My entire body. I was coughing up blood. I was puking."
Police say they felt surrounded and had to break up the crowd.
"We were all sitting down, holding hands," Buscho says. "We were all committed to being non-violent."
The students have now defiantly rebuilt their encampment in the middle of campus.
Meanwhile, the UC-Davis chancellor, Linda Katehi, faced a hostile crowd Monday calling for her resignation.
Instead, she said, "I'm here to apologize." She is refusing to step down.
Students plan a campus wide strike Monday.