Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Urgent: Call-in to support Berkeley -Black Lives Matter- arrestees

Urgent: Call-in to support Berkeley Black Lives Matter arrestees 

On Monday night, more than a thousand Berkeley students and community members marched west from UCB campus, in order to block highway I-80 as part of the ongoing movement against 
anti-black state violence, and particularly the police murders of Eric Garner and Mike Brown. 

As one group of 200 or so protesters were marching near the freeway, they were kettled and arrested by police. Most of them were taken Monday night to Santa Rita jail, and are slowly being cited and released. At least one of those who traveled to the jail to support arrestees has herself been arrested. Additionally, there have been multiple reports from students being released from Santa Rita that the police are not returning their belongings. This is very irregular and cannot be justified legally. It is a serious problem for all those being released. People do not have needed phones, keys, computers, and other belongings. For students, it is significant as well in terms of their coursework: many of them have been denied their lecture notes, books, and other course materials, only a week before final examinations. To support arrestees:  

Please call UCB Chancellor Dirks (510-642-7464) and demand that he call on Santa Rita administrators and local police to release all those arrested and their belongings.

Please also call police to demand the release of everyone arrested and all their belongings. Santa Rita jail: (925-551-6500). Alameda County Sheriffs office: (510-272-6878)

Please share and repost widely. 

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Updated: On the Democrats' Education Plan, Part 2: Resegregation

On Tuesday, state Democratic Party lawmakers presented their 2015 plan for higher education. The most publicized aspects of the plan are, first, that it would marginally increase state contributions to the UC and, second, that it would freeze undergraduate in-state tuition. An in-state tuition freeze would be be much better than Napolitano's original proposal for 5% annual tuition hikes.

But there's more to the Democrats' plan: it would also eliminate a recently-established middle class scholarship program, would tie CSU student support to timely completion of degree, and would raise UC out-of-state and international students' tuition by 17 percent, or approximately $4,000 dollars. These proposed out-of-state fee hikes would be more than three times those initially proposed by Napolitano, and would generate for the UC an estimated $82 million dollars of revenue next year.

There are a number of reasons to oppose this plan, particularly its reliance on a $4,000 dollar tuition hike for out-of-state and international students. First, from the perspective of those students directly affected, the hike would involve a financial shock, almost certain to be managed by many through the taking on of even more debt. Those opposed to skyrocketing student debt levels and to the privatization of the university thus have reason to oppose the Democrats' plan to increase out-of-state and international students' debt levels, and to keep UC reliant on tuition revenue rather than on public funds.

Furthermore, from the perspective of the student movement, the proposed hike severs the interests of various groups of current students and can be seen as an attempt to divide the nascent anti-fee hike movement by polarizing students on the basis of our place of origin and citizenship. For the sake of justice and the effectiveness of our movements, it's important to challenge the logic underlying this division of students. People from different places are all living and working together on our campuses, and many of us, regardless of place of origin, will continue living in California after graduation. So even if we base our efforts on an interest in supporting affordable education for California residents, the tuition hike plan is not OK, because all students are residents. In this way, the question of out-of-state tuition levels should be separated from the political question of what percentage of out-of-state students ideally would be admitted to the UCs. Those with different views on the latter can nevertheless unite to oppose fee hikes that would affect current "out-of-state" and international students.

But there is a much more destructive dimension to the Democrats' proposal -- the further resegregation of the UCs along lines of race and class -- which only comes into focus when we broaden our frame of reference by considering the distribution of funding to the various UC campuses. As Chris Newfield pointed out in 2012, the UC Office of the President distributes its general fund revenues unevenly between the various campuses, and this structural unevenness involves the relative underfunding of campuses with higher percentages of Black and Latin@ students (UCR, UCM, UCSB, and UCSC). And, as Bob Samuel's has noted, it's only gotten worse since 2012. UC officials have not only admitted this resource inequity but have defended it: the Office of the President "stated that the university does not wish to jeopardize the achievements of the Berkeley and Los Angeles campuses by shifting funds away to other campuses in an effort to provide an equal amount of general funds and tuition budget per student." As Newfield puts it, UCOP defines its job as protecting UC stratification rather than correcting it.

With their education proposal, the California Democrats have apparently taken on as well the job of protecting and exacerbating stratifications between UC campuses. The reason their planned out-of-state tuition hike would further stratify the UCs by race and class is that the various campuses have sharply uneven capacities to attract out-of-state and international students, based largely on their relative name recognition and prestige. If they can't attract out-of-state students at higher tuition rates, they won't gain significant funds from the out-of-state tuition hike. To get a sense of this unevenness between campuses, here's a comparison of the percentages of in-state students enrolling at the various campuses in 2012:    
This graph above helps explain the charts below, which illustrate the difference between, on the one hand, the relative percentages of out-of-state and international students at the various campuses, and, on the other hand, the relative percentages of total enrollment at the campuses (based on 2012 data). The chart on the left can serve as a proxy for the percentages of the state Democrats' proposed out-of-state fee hike that would go to the various campuses. The chart on the right represents what would be a more equitable distribution of funds, which could be supplied if the state, rather than raising out-of-state fees, simply contributed an additional $82 million dollars to UC and earmarked percentages of the money for particular campuses.      
Seen from this perspective, the California Democrats' plan for out-of-state fee hikes looks much more like an effort to salvage funding at the flagship campuses while leaving all other campuses, and particularly those with higher percentages of Black and Latin@ students, out in the cold. And class and race stratifications are inextricably linked, as the following graph makes clear:
The Democrats' plan would thus have the effect of further underfunding campuses with relatively higher percentages of Black and Latin@ student enrollment and of working class student enrollment. Their plan promises the intensification of race and class inequalities within a UC system characterized by internal segregation. For this reason, as well as those identified above, the state Democrats' plan (SB15) should be vigorously opposed, and better alternatives should be advocated, by all those interested in just and equal public education in California.

Updated, December 18: Apparently, the state Democrats are considering proposals that involve even higher out-of-state tuition hikes, and are also considering capping the number of out-of-state and international student admissions at current levels, thus locking in the inequalities discussed above. From the details of Assembly Speaker Akins' plan:
"•Increase UC enrollment of California students by 10,000 over five years and cap enrollment of out-of-state students at 2014-2015 levels.
•Increase the tuition premium for out-of-state students by $5,000, which would raise an additional $100 million annually."

On the Democrats' Education Plan, Part 1: Class War

Reposted from Education Should be Free
"California Won't be Happy Until the Last Regent is Strangled From the Entrails of the Last Democrat" 
previous communiqué announced our opposition to both the UC Regents and Governor Brown: “Fuck the Regents, and Fuck Jerry Brown Too.” It is now necessary for us to declare our opposition to the latest plan for privatization put forward by the California Democratic Party.
The cowardly California Democrats, fearing the retribution of the students and people of California, have announced a new plan to avoid fee hikes. But their plan proposes cutting scholarship programs for middle-class Californian students and raising tuition for out-of-state students by over $4,000. Let’s be clear about the strategy they’re employing: instead of imposing cuts on all students, the Democrats intend to attack certain constituencies, middle-class and out-of-state students, the classic imperial maneuver of “divide and conquer.” They want to divide us, leave us to fight over the scraps left by the state.
sorbonne occupied
What’s more, in a crude and grotesque application of their neoliberal ideology, the Democrats propose offering “completion incentive grants” to create “financial incentives” for students in the CSU system to graduate faster. Underlying this move is a frank acknowledgement that the education system has completely failed us: standardized test-based public education has not prepared students for college, and the university does not provide students the resources they need to finish according the administration’s schedule.
Despite their awareness of the fact that students often need to work full-time to keep up with the cost of living while they go to school, the Democrats are proposing the use of incentives to impose a form of factory speed-up: encouraging students to drive themselves into the ground and cut corners in their education, just to win a bonus that isn’t even worth a week of a Chancellor’s income.
Of course, they claim they will help speed students along by throwing money into more classes, as well as more advising and support. But don’t mistake this for a concern with your education. “If we invest more, we expect better efficiencies,” the Senate Leader shamelessly confessed to the Sacramento Bee. Students are being reduced to pure financial flows, to sources of income that can be manipulated and controlled by the unholy alliance of big capital and Homeland Security. No wonder they want to admit more students.
The California Democrats’ plan is not a plan to create better, more accessible, or more democratic university. It is an insidious form of privatization and financialization that converts your education into a flow of money, and your life into endless work. It represents another form of class warfare waged against the people of California. They can be sure that the people of California will respond in kind.

Friday, November 21, 2014

A Letter of Fire from Egypt

Reposted from: A Letter from Egypt:

Dear Santa Cruz and Berkeley Occupiers,

We are students and faculty from Cairo writing to you from within the folds and dust of an ongoing revolution. Many of our own universities are now occupied by the military, and we now find ourselves fighting against a regime that grows worse than the one that our revolution had initially rose up against only 3 years ago. When we first heard that you had occupied your universities, we were inspired by and felt close to your revolt that we see as resonating with our own.

We think it is important to say that our struggles arise from distinct histories, but we also know that the problems we all face can only ever be challenged by a cascade of a thousand revolts, revolts like yours that involve both a struggle for your own lives but equally for the lives of others. Our revolts are ultimately attempts to become something together, to become a part of a collectivity that is as much emancipatory as it is diverse. In your occupations against the tuition increases in your universities, we hope you find yourselves fighting alongside new and unanticipated friends and allies, people found in your revolt that have joined you in inhabiting spaces that you have made your own. We hope that you consider us among these new friends as well.

We don’t find it so urgent to distinguish between whether the attacks on our lives come in the name of austerity, security, or civility, but instead recognize that each of these attacks and each of our revolts against them are connected by shared logics: the logic of what you’ve called in your communique the “capitalist economy of accumulation” and the opposing logic of what we’ll call in this letter “creativity and solidarity”. In this spirit, we write in solidarity with all of those who look forward and see a hopeless future, and in return demand a different present and occupy it. We write in solidarity with you who have been ignored by society’s institutions, and in return have seized them. We write in solidarity with you who the global powers hope will suffer injustice alone, and instead have found one another on the barricades of revolt. We write in solidarity with you who were born into a world of fear, and yet have learned to light fires that cast fear away.

With fires against fear,

-Students and Faculty from Cairo’s Universities

Why Humanities 2? or: End the Administration

Reposted from Education Should be Free:
The UC administration wraps its tentacles around all of our lives. And it has established many nodes from which to strangle us; Kerr Hall is only one hub of a much larger amorphous beast.  Given this fact, students had a lot of options when we began considering an occupation. How, then, did we choose this particular administrative base of operations, Humanities 2, for our action?
In fact, it is not a difficult question, and everyone here is clear on the answer: this building houses the office of a particularly smarmy figure, one Dean Sheldon Kamieniecki—a perversely enthusiastic agent of austerity. This person was responsible for slashing whole departments as soon as he got the chance, Community Studies being one notable example. Most recently, he tried to sack five or six Social Science staffers last year, most of whom make roughly $40,000, and who, as any student can tell you, are absolutely indispensable to the day-to-day functioning of the university and central to the academic lives of students. Kamieniecki himself made $206,000 last year, and nobody knows what he does.
A montstous Dean Kamieniecki enjoys a snack.
Last fall, a group of students saw Kamieniecki entering this building and confronted him about the proposed layoffs: “How do you justify firing six workers who we all depend on?”
“It’s simple math. We have to make cuts. What else could you cut?”
“Well, we saw that you make over $200,000 a year.”
“So what? I should just quit my job then, I guess.”
Silence and a stare made clear our agreement with that plan. A scoff was all we got back.
But the point is not merely rhetorical: Imagine a university where the workers and students who make the place run also get to run the place. And where people whose primary job is to make cuts and give “mathematical” defenses of those cuts didn’t have to exist.
That is a university we could live with.
In this sense, this story is not only about Kamieniecki. UC President Janet Napolitano (salary $578,000) was recently quoted citing “arithmetic”  in defense of the need “to look at a whole range of things” to resolve the school’s financial situation. Predictably, in the course of a month, the task went from “looking at” to actually imposing a 27% tuition increase. How quickly a look turns into an act! The Regents’ discerning eyesight is matched only by their own efficiency.
These administration figures hide behind the veneer of mathematics in order to carry out their jobs. It makes things seem very complicated. In reality, it’s very simple: they raise tuition, attack workers, cut student services. In concert with the Regents, they make choices about how this university functions and where its resources go, and they make the wrong choices. Unsurprisingly, a lot of those resources go to admins and Regents themselves via high salaries, debt-vehicles and real-estate deals.
Unfortunately for the administrators, even if we take them at their word, the discussion of math here reveals their own redundancy. I propose, therefore, that as a test we replace all administrators with a very mathematical computer. If everything is dictated by numbers, then this computer can probably do their jobs for a lot less money.
But this will also make our job easier! For then, we can spend less time tracking these people down and denouncing them, and simply smash the computer.
For the time being however, this occupation will serve as a similar sort of test. We will keep Kamieniecki away from the levers that he pulls, and what will become clear is that no one is worse off for his absence. Either the arithmetic of austerity will simply run its course without him, or, if we’re lucky, it will falter, and our lives will surely improve. In short, like all UC administrators, he’s either superfluous or pernicious. Either way, we don’t want him.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

A Communiqué from the UCSC Occupation of Humanities 2

The University of California was once a tuition-free and public institution. Now the students are facing yet another tuition hike. The most recent attempt to raise tuition in 2009 was successfully frozen by the courageous and necessary action of students, yet this week, the UC Regents have approved a 5% tuition increase each year for the next five years. This is in addition to the numerous increases that have occurred since the new millennium which amount to what will now be a 500% increase by 2020. Governors and legislatures have come and gone, and have continually spouted rhetoric without taking any action.

In addition to tuition increases, students face larger class sizes, fewer classes, cuts to student services, and ultimately, are paying more for less education. Of course, these measures disproportionately affects those already marginalized--women, students of color, queer students, and many more. A private business parades in the mask of a public university.

All of these issues and more are a direct result of the failed leadership of the UC Regents, a ruling junta appointed by the governor—yet rebuked in this move even by him!

Privatization threatens the promise of education for all. With this most recent tuition hike, UC
students are being crushed; this is just one symptom of a global effort to privatize everything. Our
water, lands and studies are being held hostage to further benefit those at the top of a horrifying
capitalist economy of accumulation. It extends far beyond the university, from the extraction of
natural resources, to the oppression and exploitation of laborers. We are saddled with obligations to
work and incur debts at the expense of our humanity and the habitat we depend on. As students,
our future labor is put on lien for the privilege of attending a once free, now mediocre, university.

The hypocrisy we face is astounding: the Regents gave 20% raises to a few campus Chancellors just
weeks before hoisting more debt onto vulnerable students. Regent Bonnie Ress said they were
correcting an “injustice” by bumping people up from $360,000 to $383,000. This would be
laughable if it weren’t so disgusting. Never mind that the chancellors are already in the top half
percent of income earners in the United States. But with ten CEOs, four corporate lawyers, two
investment bankers and merely one student on the board of Regents, it is not surprising that the
priorities of this institution are skewed towards the interests of those at the top.

For all these reasons, we are occupying the Humanities 2 building at UC Santa Cruz. We are using
the space to do many things: to think, to strategize, to finally meet the fellow students we sit next to
every day. Most of all, however, we are simply inhabiting a space that is ours in a world where
nothing seems to be for us.

The students here are fed up, but we have not given up hope on one another, and we have not given
up hope on you. This message is intended for our fellow students here at UCSC, but it is also for
everyone else: we want to hear from alumni; from parents; from the people in our communities;
from our fellow students at other UCs; from our young comrades in elementary, middle and high
schools; from the workers and teachers who make this university run. We may only be in this
building temporarily, but we want to build something bigger, something lasting, and we want all of
you to be a part of it.

The Regents have passed their tuition hike, but this is far from over. We are calling on our allies to
help us grow: more occupations will surely follow (we don’t know who plans them!), and more
strikes, more disrupted meetings, more barricades, more students and allies in the street. All of this
not to return to the past, but to build a new future.

We will be unmanageable until such time as there are no managers—until the Regents, tuition, and privatization are washed away in a wave of democracy.

Who Are the "Legitimate" Occupants of Wheeler Hall?


An internal email sent out this morning by the UCB facilities manager. Very invested in distinguishing "legitimate" occupants from the "suspicious or dangerous" occupants.
-------- Original Message --------
Subject: Wheeler Hall is Occupied by Protestors [TODAY! - 11-20-14]
Date: Thu, 20 Nov 2014 07:19:18 -0800
From: Mark DAVIS


Dear Wheeler Hall Occupants,

UCPD has notified us that Wheeler Hall is occupied by about 70 protestors who are mostly concentrated in the main lobby of level 1.

As of now, UCPD has no plans to disperse these protestors and they have indicated that building operations and classes should take place as scheduled.

UCPD is on site and closely monitoring the activity of these people and will notify us if there are any changes to the status of this occupation.  The LSFO office, in turn, will share this information asap with building occupants.

As I suggested yesterday afternoon, I would recommend occupants (non classrooms) lock their doors and post signs to direct their legitimate visitors.

Beyond that, UCPD has requested that building occupants be vigilant and report suspicious or dangerous activity to UCPD directly.

Occupants can always call me or our office if they are unsure of what to do or if they need help addressing any of these issues.  

Thank you,

Mark Davis
Facilities Manager
College of Letters & Science Facilities Office
150A Barrows Hall

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Wheeler Hall Occupied; Mass Convergence Monday at Noon

At the Berkeley general assembly tonight, those gathered voted to call for a mass convergence and walkout this coming Monday at noon in front of Wheeler Hall as well as to immediately begin an open occupation of the Wheeler lobby, which is ongoing.

Reposted from The Berkeley Graduate

“1-2-3-4 tuition fees are class war! 5-6-7-8 students will retaliate!”
Blue and yellow lights on Wheeler Hall illuminated students chanting in the rain this evening, following a vote today in San Francisco that brings the University of California one step closer to a potential 28% tuition increase.
The UC Board of Regents’ Long-Range Planning Committee approved 7-2 a plan to increase tuition by up to 5% for 5 years, yielding a 28 percent tuition hike, in addition to creating quotas to accept more out-of-state and international students, who pay higher tuition. The two dissenting votescame from Governor Jerry Brown and student Regent Sadia Saifuddin. UC President Janet Napolitano, however, is strongly pushing for this plan, on which the full 24-member Board of Regents will vote tomorrow at UCSF.
A UC Berkeley student was arrested during the UCSF protests today, though campus police stayed several hundred feet away from this evening’s Berkeley event, leaning on a metal blockade near Sather Gate. The highly-organized and collaborative student gathering assembled under the tree on Dwinelle Plaza to share updates and ideas before regrouping into small circles to plan a Statewide Day of Action this coming Monday.
Speakers used a megaphone to share updates from, draw parallels to, and express solidarity with organizing in Palestine, Ayotzinapa, and Ferguson.
The crowd clapped in frustrated agreement when Rasheed Shabazz pointed out the pattern of militarization across these struggles, as the University naming former Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano to the UC Presidency epitomizes. Shabazz urged: “education is a right, not a privilege: the machine must be stopped…you have to keep organizing!”
Yvette Felarca reported on the Regents’ meeting with optimism: “This is not the end. Tomorrow is not the end. However they vote, it’s just the beginning.” Felarca reminded the audience that although the Regents will probably pass the plan in tomorrow’s vote, that the plan’s implementation is conditional on the University not receiving an additional $91 Million in the State Budget announced December 1st. The sum is relatively insignificant given the State’s full budget, and Governor Brown has so vociferously opposed the fee hike, that he will hopefully use his full influence to secure the necessary additional funds.
How Brown chooses to support students in preventing the fee increases will indicate his true allegiances. Fee hikes represent privatization, a process Brown has previously supported, for example, encouraging the University to privatize through online classes.
Felarca related how thoroughly the peaceful, if passionate, student protests shook the Regents, one of whom “couldn’t believe that the protestors were so angry that people in suits had to fight their way into the room!”
Attesting to student protests’ importance and power, Jasmine Schatz told this reporter, “student apathy is a huge problem on this campus…if we don’t keep showing up they’ll get comfortable and we’ll lose our opportunity to enact change” The second year undergraduate Italian Studies major took BART and Muni over to UCSF early this morning to be there by 6am to protest.
As small groups strategized for the Statewide Day of Action this coming Monday, Felarca remarked that though teach-ins, walk-outs, rallies, and other gatherings would be valuable, “I think we ought to occupy. It is time.”