Friday, September 30, 2011
Published on Friday, 30 September 2011 03:00
Bay Areans, you can help make this happen. They need a few things. More here.
General Assembly today at 6 pm in front of Federal Reserve Building.
Proposed agenda items to be included tonight:
1. Working group check-ins (communications)
2. Solidify our working groups/sub-committees
3. Establish points of solidarity for how we use our shared space: no racism, harsh language, drinking etiquette, violence, peace, etc. needs to be discussed.
6. Working group break-outs
It began very small but we are growing very quickly. Last night we doubled in size.
We are camped in front of the SF Federal Reserve Building - 101 Market St., exit Embarcadero BART/MUNI.
We have a General Assembly today (Friday) at 6:00 pm. Please come and participate. We need to strengthen our working groups to handle all of our logistics.
We need people to facilitate democratic discussions.
We need people with computers and 3g phones. We need techies!
We need food, cooking ware, plates, utensils, camping stoves, compost bins.
We http://www.blogger.com/img/blank.gifneed cooks!
We need medical supplies. We need medics!
We need blankets, warm clothes.
We need people with instruments, art, and culture!
We need paint, poster-board, signage supplies.
We need everything and everyone, just like Liberty Plaza.
We need you, your presence, your skills, your voice, your participation.
To find an event in your area, OCCUPY TOGETHER.
SANTIAGO - Student protesters clashed with police in the Chilean capital on Thursday, just ahead of scheduled talks with the government on education reforms which have sparked massive demonstrations.
Riot police used tear gas and water cannon to try to disperse the tens of thousands of protesters, some of whom responded by attacking security forces with sticks and rocks, scenes broadcast on Chilean television showed.
Tear gas wafted into private homes and office buildings in the area, briefly causing panic among residents around a park where the clashes occurred.
The demonstration had begun peacefully in front of the University of Santiago, but turned violent near a park south of the Chilean capital, outside an area that authorities had approved for the march.
Organizers estimated the crowd at 90,000, saying participants included university students, secondary school students and teachers. The police gave no estimate for the number of demonstrators.
The protest was being held just hours before talks were to open between protest leaders and the government.
Camila Vallejo, one of the leaders of the student movement, denounced the police handling of the latest protest.
"Police should have co-operated to control the protest, but not suppress it," she said.
Of the talks, Vallejo said, "We hope the government shows willingness to work with us and that the budget will be on the table."
Classes have been on hold in many schools and universities during the long-running demonstrations, which routinely draw tens of thousands of students into the streets, representing the largest protest movement in Chile since General Augusto Pinochet's military dictatorship ended in 1990.
Chile's main student federation on Tuesday agreed to talks with the government of President Sebastian Pinera on education reforms after nearly five months of demonstrations.
But student leaders had said they would be calling for no classes to be held while the talks are ongoing, to maintain pressure on the government.
Thursday, September 29, 2011
Thursday, September 29 · 3:00pm - 6:00pm
555 California St. San Francisco, CA
More coverage here.
It is important for us to remember that Bank of America, Wells Fargo, and other banks broke no laws in not paying any taxes this year. They didn’t have to because their lobbyists helped to write the tax laws.
Large corporations like Bank of America are incapable of making the kind of pledge our nation’s founders made to each other at the end of their declaration. By law they must put the economic interest of their shareholders above everything else.
Corporations like Bank of America must be put in their place. This begins by insisting that if corporations want to be afforded the same rights as citizens, they must take on the same responsibilities of citizens.
It is time for Banks and corporations to pay their fair share of taxes and to stop purchasing special privileges and entitlements that are not available to flesh-and-blood citizens.
The protests survived this.
Now United: Over 700 hundred Continental and United pilots, joined by additional pilots from other Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA) carriers, demonstrate in front of Wall Street on Tuesday
Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk
Wednesday, September 28, 2011
Original post here.
The University of California – Berkeley College Republicans staged an anti-affirmative action bake sale this week on UCB’s Sproul Plaza to protest Senate Bill 185, that would re-introduce affirmative action in the state of California. The bill recently passed in the legislature and awaits Governor Jerry Brown’s signature or veto. At the bake sale, white men had to pay the most – $2, people of color got various discounts, black men were to be charged 75 cents, and all women got 25 cents off. A demonstration was staged on Sproul Tuesday in response, with hundreds of students of color lying down throughout Sproul with signs that carried messages like “UC us now.” The campus Republicans have sparked a debate about race; whether their entitlement and kvetching will trump facts and reality, and the justified anger they produce in oppressed communities, remains to be seen. On Sproul today, the answer was clearly “no, it does not. ” However, in Jerry Brown’s office it remains an open question.
Several recent studies indicate that multiple indices of racial inequality are at Jim Crow levels. Concomitant polls indicate that most white people not only feel that enough has been done to address racial discrimination, but that white people are now an “oppressed race.” 44 percent of the general American population, surveyed by the Public Religion Research Institute thought that whites are discriminated against as much as blacks and other oppressed groups. Tea Partiers and Glenn Beck have gone so far as to call for a white civil rights movement. The whining of the privileged certainly adds insult to injury, which, to use one of their metaphors, is par for the course in America historically.
This sniveling sits within a context of intense levels of racialized economic inequality, and associated police harassment and violence nationally. At the UC the “white victim” bake sale sits alongside a generation of working class students and students of color being blocked from a UC education, or finding themselves riddled with tens of thousands of dollars in debt, for blacks, earning every bit of a bachelor’s degree that is worth less than 80% of the white classmates they graduate with.
The University of California, which was once free, has been largely privatized, with tuition increasing over 500 percent since 1980. Tuition has doubled in the last eight years and, under a proposed budget could almost double again in the next 5 years to about $22,000 per year. This has lead to declines in black and Latino enrollment, including a drop of almost 20% in under-represented transfer students in recent years. If the angry white man can’t find liberal enlightenment in Berkeley, maybe mealy-mouthed multiculturalism isn’t enough. When whites on average have 20 times the wealth of blacks and Latinos, half effective policy reforms like affirmative action, that help more middle class white women than people of color in the first place, are not nearly enough to address intergenerational inequality that is not only failing to disappear, but is growing.
Right wing activist and former UC Regent Ward Connerly, who helped write Affirmative Action out of the California Constitution in 1996, and attempted to bar any collection of social data pertaining to race in 2003, came by to be the sole black cookie-buyer and lend support to the Campus Republicans. All three of these efforts – to end affirmative action, to try and block data that shows racial inequality and now to block the re-enactment of affirmative action – are not so much attempts to ignore or downplay race as they are efforts to erase race. However, it goes beyond that.
In reality this transcends erasing or white-washing race, and makes strides towards normalizing the existing racial inequality and re-inscribing a white supremacy where white people believe the defense and extension of their privilege is some form of “reparations” for all the years that the white race was oppressed, whenever the hell that was. These recent right wing effort, grumbling like Archie Bunker that white people are an oppressed race out one side of their mouth, while claiming that it is racist to recognize race at all, is telling.
The President of the Berkeley College Republicans, Shawn Lewis, snidely admits his racism, again equating the historic suffering of people of color and women with that of conservative, rich white men, “We agree that the event is inherently racist, but that is the point. It is no more racist than giving an individual an advantage in college admissions based solely on their race (or) gender[i].”
A generation of attacking the severely limited government programs that half-attempted to address racial inequality (affirmative action, housing subsidies, welfare) while pursuing a racist war on drugs that has three times as many blacks and Latinos in prison than in college, simply drives home the point that this has nothing to with an even playing field. Power has always given some groups the ability to not only oppress, but to construct a historically malleable morality, not only justifying the oppression, but bestowing honor and virtue to the oppressor. This has nothing to do with fairness, neutrality, or justice. This has everything to do with white privilege and white supremacy.
Mike King is a PhD candidate in Sociology at UC – Santa Cruz. He is currently writing a dissertation on gang injunctions and working on a book about the Tea Party. He can be reached at mking at ucsc.edu
Tuesday, September 27, 2011
Generally speaking, debt is a collective phenomenon suffered individually. Our monthly loan statements are like nineteenth century serialized novels—mass reading material, anticipated by all but read alone. When experienced in this way, by dispersed individuals, debt appears to be merely a fact of life; a kind of required reading material. It can be nearly impossible then to imagine how our personalized loan statements or individual defaults could be fought in a way that forges bonds between us. How loans could produce more than isolating shame, anxiety, and loss. Or how, in a word, we could collectivize struggles against indebtedness and unemployment, and in doing so open the horizon of our futures.
-- Amanda Armstrong, Insolvent Futures / Bonds of Struggle
Today, student debt is an exceptionally punishing kind to have. Not only is it inescapable through bankruptcy, but student loans have no expiration date and collectors can garnish wages, social security payments, and even unemployment benefits. When a borrower defaults and the guaranty agency collects from the federal government, the agency gets a cut of whatever it’s able to recover from then on (even though they have already been compensated for the losses), giving agencies a financial incentive to dog former students to the grave.
When the housing bubble collapsed, the results (relatively good for most investors, bad for the government, worse for homeowners) were predictable but not foreordained. With the student-loan bubble, the resolution is much the same, and it’s decided in advance.
-- Malcolm Harris, Bad Education
Federal student loans originate in the National Defense Education Act of 1958. These loans were, on the advice of noted neoliberal architect Milton Friedman, direct federal loans to students that by-passed institutional control: through this, Friedman intended to direct more federal dollars to private institutions as a means to discipline and eventually privatize public education (Federal Education Budget Project). While a necessary first step, the design flaw in this program was that any direct federal loan showed up as a loss on government balance sheets even though the loan would no doubt be repaid in the future – with interest. To get around this, the government instead began guaranteeing loans to students by private financial houses: in essence privatizing an enormous chunk of federal largesse.3 With the dramatic decrease in federal funding to institutions themselves in favor of loans and grants – as mandated by HEA - the stage was set for institutional competition and the explosive growth of college tuition as the market would now determine education’s worth.
-- Mark Paschal, A Framework for Student Debt
Building a student loan debt abolition movement also requires that we reframe the question of the debt itself. A first step must be a political house cleaning to dispel the smell of sanctity and rationality surrounding debt repayment regardless of the conditions in which it has been contracted and the ability of the debtor to do so. Most important, however, from the viewpoint of building a movement is to redefine student loans and debts as involving wage and work issues that go to the heart of the power relation between workers and capital. Student debt does not arise from the sphere
of consumption (it is not like a credit card loan or even a mortgage). To treat student loans as consumer loans (i.e., deferred payment in exchange for immediate consumption of a desired commodity) is to misrepresent their content, making invisible their class dimension and the potential allies in the struggle against them.
Student debt is a work issue in at least three ways:
i. Schoolwork is work; it is the source of an enormous amount of new knowledge, wealth and social creativity presumably benefiting “society” but in reality providing a source of capital accumulation. Thus, paying for education is, for students, paying twice, with their work and with the money they provide.
ii. A certificate, diploma, or degree of some sort is now being posed as indispensable condition for obtaining employment. Thus the decision to take on a debt cannot be treated as an individual choice similar to the choosing to buy a particular brand of soap. Paying for one’s education then is a toll imposed on workers in exchange for the
possibility, not even the certainty, of employment. In this sense, it is a collective wage-cut.
iii. Student debt is a work-discipline issue because it represents a way of mortgaging many workers’ future, of deciding which jobs and wages they will seek and their ability to resist exploitation and/or to fight for better conditions (Williams).
-- George Caffentzis, The Student Loan Debt Abolition Movement in the US
Generation of Debt Final
Ratified, Monday September 26, 2011
Statement of Solidarity with September 22 Actions and Arrestees:
UAW 2865, Berkeley Unit
On September 22nd, members of the UAW 2865 joined several other students, workers, faculty, and their organizations to nonviolently protest the austerity measures undermining the quality and purpose of public education at UC Berkeley and other universities around the state. Hundreds participated in a rally at Sproul Plaza and marched through campus to raise awareness of the undermining of our public institutions and reclaim education as a civil right.
Near the end of the march, participants decided to occupy and utilize empty classrooms in Tolman Hall where the Department of Education is based to hold teach-ins, documentary viewings, and general meetings open to anyone who wished to contribute. While some classrooms in Tolman Hall are still in use, the reclaimed classrooms, which once prepared future generations of educators, are now empty due to administrative and state disinvestment. We students, workers, faculty, and community members understand this neglect of space to be symptomatic of a larger crisis of priorities: upper-level administration and faculty – as well as UCPD – take increasing portions of the budget while workers are fired, overworked, and underpaid; student fees and tuitions are increased; and classroom buildings as well as departments are abandoned. Such austerity measures satisfy investors by selling off our futures, displacing educational costs onto unreasonable amounts of student debt. The university continues to grow and enhance its brand while instructional value suffers, students struggle to graduate, and staff works more for less money and job security. Students and workers transformed these derelict spaces into improvisational classrooms where people could speak critically and openly about how these changes are affecting their lives and about local, national, and international movements to restore affordable education at the center of our democracies. Documentaries were viewed. Food and water was distributed. A conversation with a student activist in Chile was organized. Teach-ins were held.
Although hundreds of students and workers entered Tolman Hall to carry out these peaceful demonstrations, they were met by the UCPD with shows of aggressive, physical force and pepper spray. Throughout the day, the presence of the UCPD militarized the situation and often escalated confrontations. Demonstrators grew increasingly frustrated as they watched one participant be beaten and seized in a hallway outside of a classroom under the pretense of fabricated charges. Around 8:50pm, the UCPD began locking down the building on peacefully chanting demonstrators without giving a dispersal order or even announcing that the building was to be closed – in contrast to the official statement made by UCPD and the UC administration. The counter-force exerted outside the building came after the police locked the doors on protesters. Ultimately, nearly all protestors inside the building were allowed to leave peacefully without receiving citations. We believe these violent, precipitous, and likely illegal actions by the UCPD to be a localized expression of broader structural tensions augmented by divisive strategies of austerity and privatization. The core mission for all members of the academic community –workers, students, faculty, and community members alike—should be the restoration of the purpose and viability of education as a public, democratic good.
The repression of students and workers cannot be tolerated!
Austerity undermining public education will not be tolerated!
As members of the UC community, we demand:
A complete reversal of recent fee increases.
A revision of current admissions policies to lift barriers faced by underrepresented students of color and working class students.
The re-hiring of workers fired as a result of budget cuts
A full investigation of the Regents’ conflicts of interest, especially their investments in banks and for-profit schools.
An end to UC administrative and police surveillance, violence, and intervention in political and academic activities.
Equal and full access to the university for undocumented students and workers.
The democratic control of the university by students, faculty, and staff.
All charges be dropped against the two individuals arrested on Sept. 22.
The UAW Local 2865, which represents academic student-workers, calls on community members and all faculty, students, workers and their organizations to join us in making these demands.
The escalation of police force against peaceful demonstrators indicates that conventional measures of protest and dialogue have been denied despite official pronouncements by UCPD and the UC administration. If faculty, students, community members, and workers cannot gather peacefully on campus to defend public education against the austerity measures imposed by the UC administration and enforced through the brutality of UCPD, we are increasingly left with no choice but to disrupt business-as-usual at the university in order to be heard.
We call on all community members, faculty, students, workers and their labor unions, associations and organizations to accelerate preparations for larger, collective actions if our demands are not met following sustained efforts of public statements, negotiation, and peaceful protests against the UC administration.
To say that the racist, sexist, anti-Semitic, and homophobic incidents at UCSD, at Davis and UCSC are cases of intolerance is to imply that that those engaged in these expressions are saying awful things to and about people they reject. To call for tolerance is to address only the awful things they are saying, not the underlying and implicit rejection. It addresses the symptom, not the underlying condition of which the individual utterances are merely the manifestation. We should not say such things, it implies, even about people we find or whose behavior or culture we find unacceptable.Birgeneau's statement resembles these pathetic attempts. The problem with the bake sale, he asserts, is not its racist politics but rather the lack of civility with which it was proposed. Over at Student Activism, Angus Johnston offers the following critique:
And yesterday Berkeley’s chancellor sent out an open letter on the sale. The event, he said, was “hurtful or offensive to many” at Berkeley, though he didn’t say why. It was not the politics of the sale, he implied, that were problematic, but the form of their expression: “Regardless what policies or practices one advocates, careful consideration is needed on how to express those opinions.”This is a good point of departure, but it also seems important to emphasize the explicitly political context in which all of this is taking place as well as the history of racist but more importantly anti-racist action at the UC (and more generally throughout California and the country). The administration's key consideration, as always, is its ability to manage, that is, to channel all social tensions through the bureaucratic apparatus in order to neutralize their unpredictability and to continue to extract value from the users of the university without interruption.
Absent from each of these formal statements was any explicit statement of what exactly was wrong with the Republicans’ sale. (ASUC indicated that actually selling treats to certain students at reduced prices might violate anti-discrimination regulations, but of course actually selling stuff was never the point of the event.)
I wrote yesterday about the hundreds of non-violent protesters who have been arrested at UC campuses in the last three years, and I’ll be writing more about those events as this week rolls on. Seen in that light, the failure of ASUC and Chancellor Birgeneau to do more than merely place themselves on the side of sensitivity and civility rings hollow.
As an act of political theater, the affirmative action bake sale is a pretty paltry one. It offers a weak and overplayed analogy to the admissions debate, rehashing claims that have been batted around for ages. What makes it provocative isn’t its form but its message: that affirmative action is an immoral act of discrimination.
That’s what the College Republicans of Berkeley believe, and that is the message they are attempting to convey with their sale. They believe that affirmative action is racist and sexist against against whites and men, and there’s no polite way to call someone a bigot.
Birgeneau wants to make the debate about the bake sale a debate about how polite the Berkeley community should be. But that’s not what it’s about, on either side. It’s about who should be allowed to enroll in the university, and on what terms.
[Postcript Tuesday 2:18pm]: Yes.
(photo via @mrdaveyd)
Monday, September 26, 2011
(For the record, we know Officer Timothy Zuniga #73 well -- he's the one who lied his ass off on the quote-unquote "stand" during two separate student conduct hearings and was basically laughed off the stage.)
For more coverage of the Tolman Hall occupation, see our previous post.
Sunday, September 25, 2011
As with the inaugural event of the California occupation movement two years ago -- when students barricaded themselves inside the Graduate Student Commons at UC Santa Cruz -- the occupation of Tolman Hall was both an act of material expropriation (or attempted expropriation) and an act of communication, meant to signal, to warn, to threaten and raise the alarm. . . It was both a declaration of resumed hostilities against the university and a form of communication with comrades here and elsewhere, both inside and outside the university. It was a warning directed at the small clique of arrogant, befuddled bureaucrats who run the university, as well as their armed thugs. But also a message sent to our comrades. For our comrades, the occupation was meant to communicate first and foremost a kind of excitement: Let's do this! Let's occupy everything! But behind the initial thrill it should communicate, also, a few critical lessons:[Updated Monday 10:10am]: Check out "A Small Critique on Rhetoric," over at Gazuedro:
1) The first lesson is as clear as a geometric proof: Violence works. As with the threat of a two thousand person riot which freed the Wheeler occupiers on Nov. 20, defensive violence works particularly well. Faced with a group of largely passive occupiers, a group which seemed in no way prepared to resist a dispersal order, the police decided to enjoy their own capacity for arbitrary displays of power and bar the doors without giving any verbal warning. The occupiers, correctly, rushed the doors and tried to get out, pushing the cops out of the way and dearresting those whom the police grabbed. With over half of the crowd outside, the police finally secured the doors, throwing one of the last people to try and flee to the floor, bloodying his face and nearly dislocating his shoulder. They had started a riot. Outside, fewer than five officers faced off against a crowd of 30 or more in total darkness. Someone threw a metal chair at the cops. Others threw chunks of concrete and traffic cones. They chanted “Pigs just fucking try it. There's gonna be a fucking riot.” The cops were forced back into the building, at which point it seemed like only a matter of time before the crowd tore down some fencing and smashed open the doors (someone had already smashed one door). Realizing the volatility of the situation, the cops released the detainees on the inside. QED: violence works. Violence, in this case, is one of the most intense forms of solidarity. Only because of the mystification that surrounds the police, can this appear as anything other than an act of mutual aid. When a group of thugs kidnaps your friends and starts beating them, you fight back. This is common sense.
2) Second lesson: the police are the enemy. They cannot be convinced, cajoled, manipulated. They have been given orders to treat every demonstration as a criminal matter, an act of burglary and vandalism. The administration has indicated in explicit terms that only the police will deal with such situations. There will be no discussion, no phone calls or visits from the Deans. It does not matter if we have the support of the inhabitants of the building. Police are the proxy owners of the campus; they will go in and militarize occupations immediately. Unlike other places where the police might wait outside for hours or days or weeks until given orders to attack an occupation, police at Berkeley act on their own initiative, autonomously, attempting to take control of a space even before they contact their superiors. The image of officers rushing into the crowd as if they were running backs pushing through defensive line would be absurd elsewhere, but here it is par for the course. This makes the “open occupation” -- the occupation which attempts to claim space but allow for easy circulation in and out, creating a functioning autonomous space in which all kinds of activities take place -- rather difficult. It is pretty obvious at this point: we cannot be free with cops in the room. There is no struggle against fees and debt, no struggle against austerity that is not, at the same time, a struggle against the cops. We will have to find ways to physically prevent the entry of police into our occupations, unless they are politically prevented from doing so. This is our message to the administration: restrain your attack dogs or expect more riots.
3) A final lesson. This occupation failed for many reasons -- an inability to keep police out of the building, a lack of “planning for success” (ie, having clear ideas about what we wanted to do once we were inside). All of this meant, ultimately, that there were too few people to survive the first night without courting arrest. Still, as brief and disorganized as it was, the number of people entirely new to protest and occupation was incredibly encouraging. These new folks, of course, displayed a naivete that is no doubt frustrating -- wondering, for instance, why the presence of cops in the building was even an issue (they learned the answer quite quickly). But instead of engaging them, and attempting to explain what was happening, instead of attempting to help them understand the practice they were engaged in, many comrades simply left them alone, preferring to congregate with the likeminded. This is a real weakness, one we note in ourselves. It evidences a lack of patience, and a desire to avoid uncomfortable experiences that strikes us as rather prevalent in the Bay Area milieu (and prevalent, we note, in our own behavior). Our contempt for those who stand in our way, and who do so repeatedly, is good and important. But it seems we resort to contempt even when confronted with people who oppose us not out of some deep-seated ideological conviction but out of sheer lack of experience. Let's be clear: insurrection will not occur solely as the result of intentional action by a group of already committed radicals, a group of people who already display the “correct” thoughts and actions. It will occur as the result of transformative experiences -- experiences that always involve new forms of knowledge and political discourse -- and which drive people to do things they never imagined doing before. In short, we need to get better at talking. We're pretty good at fighting. We're pretty good at writing. We're pretty good at taking care of each other. But we're not so good at speaking publicly, it seems, under pressure, at the right moment. As a friend noted to us afterwards, perhaps this is because we hate leaders and fear becoming them, fear the banal acts of persuasion and oratory upon which the left thrives, and despise those who try to dominate others through such proselytizing. But saying what you think is not necessarily domination. Sometimes it's an act of friendship.
Perhaps it’s just rhetorical poisoning that my mind has suffered through the years by the media and the movement police, but it seems reckless to say, carte blanche, that “violence works.” This is not an ethical criticism of the argument, but rather a concern for the lack of clarity portrayed by this rather brief statement. I would take it, the “critical lesson” is that given the imminent political force of the crowd outside, and the aggressiveness of the police, the use of violent force to circumvent further atrociousness from the police was effective, worth the risk, and justified. Perhaps more importantly, that as a tactic, it’s easily justifiable to a community critical of police brutality against students who were merely demonstrating, and was thus something that might help bring a community together. I bring this up only to say that this argument isn’t given a fair chance by the brevity of the original statement (i.e. violence works) or by the dramatic and defiance-infused description of events that took place. In short, does all “violence work?” No of course not, it depends on the situation. It’s clear that this statement is a reaction to the moral condemnation of what happened, but as you realize, the problem with moral condemnation is its outright ignorance of how nuanced the issue is; and how general sweeping statements (i.e. moralisms) are aggravating excuses for failing to think critically. The approach of this argument falls under that same trap of being too general.
Similarly, stating “the police are the enemy,” seems a little extravagant. Certainly they often hold the role as the enemy, and are physically present to disable you from being effective. But the police are not the capitalists. The police are (massive) obstacles that must be dealt with. They are often the racist fuckers that shoot unarmed black men face down on the platform, but they are not the ones that solely perpetuate the system of oppression. If you’re purpose is to explain to the uninitiated that the police are not our friends, then you’re a folly of your own third lesson: failing to engage a diverse crowd the right way. An argument like this won’t reach folks. This kind of message, by far, is a lesson best learned through direct action: through the realization that your attempts to make the world better (and thus by extension communize) will be struck down with a baton every time if you fail to organize yourself to resist. This statement does help justify the event for those who were present, but it stops short of contextualizing the power structure thats at fault. It’s most certainly frustrating to have people constantly defend the police and absolve them of any wrongdoing, but the medium to change that won’t be in a brief communique.
I think generally, insurrectionary rhetoric like this overuses hyperbolic language and exaggeration. It usually comes off as grating rather than evocative of romantic adventurism and adrenaline-infused, humbled righteousness. I really appreciate the perspective and analysis though -- for which y’all should be much lauded.
[Though the alter-globalization movement probably didn't force neoliberalism to move to North America. Article originally posted here.]
Why are people occupying Wall Street? Why has the occupation – despite the latest police crackdown – sent out sparks across America, within days, inspiring hundreds of people to send pizzas, money, equipment and, now, to start their own movements called OccupyChicago, OccupyFlorida, in OccupyDenver or OccupyLA?
There are obvious reasons. We are watching the beginnings of the defiant self-assertion of a new generation of Americans, a generation who are looking forward to finishing their education with no jobs, no future, but still saddled with enormous and unforgivable debt. Most, I found, were of working-class or otherwise modest backgrounds, kids who did exactly what they were told they should: studied, got into college, and are now not just being punished for it, but humiliated – faced with a life of being treated as deadbeats, moral reprobates.
Is it really surprising they would like to have a word with the financial magnates who stole their future?
Just as in Europe, we are seeing the results of colossal social failure. The occupiers are the very sort of people, brimming with ideas, whose energies a healthy society would be marshaling to improve life for everyone. Instead, they are using it to envision ways to bring the whole system down.
But the ultimate failure here is of imagination. What we are witnessing can also be seen as a demand to finally have a conversation we were all supposed to have back in 2008. There was a moment, after the near-collapse of the world's financial architecture, when anything seemed possible.
Everything we'd been told for the last decade turned out to be a lie. Markets did not run themselves; creators of financial instruments were not infallible geniuses; and debts did not really need to be repaid – in fact, money itself was revealed to be a political instrument, trillions of dollars of which could be whisked in or out of existence overnight if governments or central banks required it. Even the Economist was running headlines like "Capitalism: Was it a Good Idea?"
It seemed the time had come to rethink everything: the very nature of markets, money, debt; to ask what an "economy" is actually for. This lasted perhaps two weeks. Then, in one of the most colossal failures of nerve in history, we all collectively clapped our hands over our ears and tried to put things back as close as possible to the way they'd been before.
Perhaps, it's not surprising. It's becoming increasingly obvious that the real priority of those running the world for the last few decades has not been creating a viable form of capitalism, but rather, convincing us all that the current form of capitalism is the only conceivable economic system, so its flaws are irrelevant. As a result, we're all sitting around dumbfounded as the whole apparatus falls apart.
What we've learned now is that the economic crisis of the 1970s never really went away. It was fobbed off by cheap credit at home and massive plunder abroad – the latter, in the name of the "third world debt crisis". But the global south fought back. The "alter-globalisation movement", was in the end, successful: the IMF has been driven out of East Asia and Latin America, just as it is now being driven from the Middle East. As a result, the debt crisis has come home to Europe and North America, replete with the exact same approach: declare a financial crisis, appoint supposedly neutral technocrats to manage it, and then engage in an orgy of plunder in the name of "austerity".
The form of resistance that has emerged looks remarkably similar to the old global justice movement, too: we see the rejection of old-fashioned party politics, the same embrace of radical diversity, the same emphasis on inventing new forms of democracy from below. What's different is largely the target: where in 2000, it was directed at the power of unprecedented new planetary bureaucracies (the WTO, IMF, World Bank, Nafta), institutions with no democratic accountability, which existed only to serve the interests of transnational capital; now, it is at the entire political classes of countries like Greece, Spain and, now, the US – for exactly the same reason. This is why protesters are often hesitant even to issue formal demands, since that might imply recognising the legitimacy of the politicians against whom they are ranged.
When the history is finally written, though, it's likely all of this tumult – beginning with the Arab Spring – will be remembered as the opening salvo in a wave of negotiations over the dissolution of the American Empire. Thirty years of relentless prioritising of propaganda over substance, and snuffing out anything that might look like a political basis for opposition, might make the prospects for the young protesters look bleak; and it's clear that the rich are determined to seize as large a share of the spoils as remain, tossing a whole generation of young people to the wolves in order to do so. But history is not on their side.
We might do well to consider the collapse of the European colonial empires. It certainly did not lead to the rich successfully grabbing all the cookies, but to the creation of the modern welfare state. We don't know precisely what will come out of this round. But if the occupiers finally manage to break the 30-year stranglehold that has been placed on the human imagination, as in those first weeks after September 2008, everything will once again be on the table – and the occupiers of Wall Street and other cities around the US will have done us the greatest favour anyone possibly can.
Austerity Forum Notes
One way to begin considering austerity is to look at how debt and deficits are being managed and distributed. Who's in debt, and who owns debt. Debt entails a promise of future payment, and thus often a promise as well that someone will perform waged labor in the future. With the financialization of our economy – roughly since 1970 – these kinds of promises, or claims on the future, have been multiplied exponentially. Home loans became “mortgage backed securities” and were traded on Wall Street. Student loans were and increasingly are bundled and converted into “student loan asset backed securities,” or SLABS. Our debt is being traded to enrich Wall Street investors, including many UC Regents.
In recent years, though, the levels of debt circulating in our financial systems began to seem unrealistic. The promises on the future represented by such debt didn't seem like they could be kept, especially given the perennial lack of waged work. So the financial system experienced an acute crisis beginning in 2008, and we are now living through recurring debt scares – the crises in Greece and Italy are simply symptoms of a larger crisis of capitalism through which we are living.
A way to think about austerity is that it's simply the name given to the way states and corporations would prefer to respond to this crisis.
A really short story on austerity is that, following the crisis of 2008, those large corporate and financial institutions that made money bundling, parcelling out, and multiplying debt were bailed out by governments; they had most of their bad debt bought up or otherwise absorbed by State treasuries (unlike homeowners, many of whom faced foreclosure; and unlike students, increasing numbers of whom are defaulting on student loans). States then began transferring the debts they incurred to their populations, in the form of tuition increases, layoffs of state workers, cuts to health and education services, the elimination of subsidized loans for graduate students, and the elimination of child care programs.
What had been relatively public goods are now being privatized.
There are a number of ways this larger process of austerity is reshaping the educational sphere, and the UCs in particular.
First, UC workers are facing layoffs; and those who remain employed are experiencing intensified workloads. Operational Excellence is just one of the ways layoffs and speedups are being imposed on UC workers.
Also, course offerings are being reduced, and class sizes are being increased.
Finally, UC Students are facing ballooning tuition rates, and debt levels that are likely unpayable, given the devastated job markets we face upon graduation.
At their most recent meeting, the Regents considered a plan proposed by Yudof to commit the UCs to as much as 81% in fee hikes over the next four years. If this plan goes through, tuition at the UCs will likely exceed $20,000 dollars in four years. The Regents didn't endorse this plan, but they also didn't reject it. Some of them were quoted afterwards saying that they were terrified of publicly endorsing it. They're afraid of *us*, and of our capacity to take direct actions and to build a movement that makes fee hikes and layoffs politically untenable, if not practically impossible, for the Regents and the state legislature. This is our task.
It's important also to say that fee hikes at the UCs, including those on the horizon, wouldn't only affect students currently enrolled, or those who will come to the UCs in future years. They reverberate throughout the entire education system in California, affecting all students. With many high school students deciding that they can't afford the UCs, more are applying to the CSUs. This year, over 600,000 qualified CSU applicants were rejected. Community colleges are also facing massive course reductions and enrollment cuts. What this means is that working class students and students of color in California are increasingly deciding to attend for-profit universities, which almost never provide the educational experience they advertise. They've been found to engage systematically in fraudulent practices. The majority of students at for-profits understandably withdraw after only a few semesters, but not before they take out thousands of dollars in debt. Former attendees of these schools endure half of all student loan defaults.
Extreme student debt levels and financial default are some of the most consequential effects of austerity in the educational sphere.
In addition to pushing us into debt, unemployment, and default, austerity measures also entail the direct, forcible disruption of the processes by which we reproduce our lives.
Reductions in pensions and health services mean more individualized care work for grandparents and elderly parents; cuts to childcare programs mean more time caring for children, or more time during which children are living alone.
These cuts reverberate through our communities; they thus open up the possibility of forms of solidarity and collective action that reach beyond any given institution or sector. In Wisconsin, where a cross-sectoral mobilization occurred this past year, banners were dropped in the capitol with the slogan: “Screw us and we multiply.” We're being screwed; it's time for us to multiply our forces.
In building mass resistance to austerity, there are some particular challenges that we'll have to face – debt and layoffs can make us feel isolated, and can make this isolation seem necessary. The time of resistance can appear constrained. But we must make time to resist austerity; to claim space, to learn from each other, to share food, to wash pepper spray from each others' eyes, to care for each others' children and generally to sustain each other as we take collective action.
We must constitute, through our protest, new forms of collectivity and new ways of reproducing our lives that don't involve the isolation, anxiety, debt, and over-work offered to us by austerity.
On Thursday, we begin again to fight back, together.
Saturday, September 24, 2011
noon - 3pm
The time has come to voice our rage at the ongoing attack on public education in California and across the globe. This past July the UC regents raised tuition by almost 10%, bringing the total tuition increase for the fall to 17.6%.
President Yudof and the regents will be meeting November 15th to discuss still more austerity measures for years to come. We need to let them know that there will be consequences for the actions they choose to take.
It's time for students at UC Davis and across the state to stand united against such belligerent acts and to send a clear message to the administration that we will not sit idly by as they devastate the future of our communities.
SPREAD THE WORD!
Troy Davis Protesters Occupy Wall Street
New America Media, News Feature, Ryan Devereaux,
Posted: Sep 24, 2011
NEW YORK CITY -- Less than twenty-four hours after the state of Georgia injected a cocktail of lethal drugs into the bloodstream of Troy Anthony Davis, the repercussions of his death hit the streets of New York City this Thursday with full force. A rally that was billed online as a “Day of Outrage,” lived up to the name as it snowballed into a massive impromptu march through lower Manhattan.
People young and old, of all classes and colors, joined hands in a moment of silence to honor a man whom many believed died for a crime he didn’t commit. Some cried, many chanted. With references to Jim Crow and legalized lynching, the collective indignation was palpable. There were impassioned monologues from anti-death penalty advocates, poets and people who simply found themselves moved by the moment.
With little warning, the crowd, numbering in the high hundreds, decided to march. The destination was unknown but the resolve was clear. The police did their best to keep up as the mass of mourners moved west down 14th Street, then south onto 5th Avenue.
Parents marched with children on their shoulders. Crust-punk activists joined demonstrators in pressed shirts, repeating the refrain, “The system is racist, they killed Troy Davis!” Wide-eyed Manhattanites poured out of restaurants and businesses, camera phones in hand, to capture what was unfolding.
As the number of marchers swelled it became evident that some of the spectators had transformed themselves into participants.
With steadily increasing numbers –some estimate over a thousand – and a phalanx of marching and scooter-mounted cops on its tail, the sea of demonstrators continued south. Word soon spread that the demonstration knew where it was headed: Wall Street.
Occupy Wall Street
For the last week an encampment of protesters executing a campaign known as Occupy Wall Street have taken up residence at Trinity Place, a square roughly a thousand feet from the very heart of global capitalism. They’ve renamed the space Liberty Plaza, and targeted their frustration at a number of issues, including corporate greed and the unyielding influence of moneyed interests on the U.S. political system.
Illuminated by street lamps and police lights, the throng of Davis supporters was met with cheers and music provided by an estimated 500 Wall Street protesters. Within minutes dozens of NYPD officers were attempting to physically force scores of demonstrators onto a strip of cement already packed shoulder-to-shoulder with people.
Protester Brandon King, 27, found himself caught between the police and the crowd. With his back turned to the officers, King was yanked from the crowd and slammed into the pavement; arrested on charges of obstruction of governmental administration, disorderly conduct and resisting arrest. King denies that he resisted, saying he went limp while officers punched him in the back.
His arms bleeding, he was dragged away as a demonstrator screamed, “The whole world is watching!” Indeed, there was no shortage of recording equipment documenting the moment.
One young man, in an apparent attempt to put the situation in context, cried out to the police, “These people are marching peacefully for a dead man!”
Joseph Jordan, 29, says he received similar treatment. He claims a senior police officer singled him out, saying “I’m sick of you.” A number of officers then piled on top of him, making it impossible to scream or breathe, he says.
“I feel that their immediate response to us was that, ‘We don’t care about your anger. We don’t care about your frustration. We don’t care about Troy,’” King said, following his release from jail the next day.
Despite the heavy-handed tactics of the police, the demonstrators remained resolute and non-violent. Their numbers inflated by the Liberty Plaza crowd, the group decided to continue the march to Wall Street itself.
A Surreal Scene
The shouts of the protesters, the rapid-fire tapping of a snare drum and the unavoidable presence of Federal Hall’s famous George Washington statue made for a surreal scene. What could have been a profound moment to reflect on democracy in action, turned ugly when a hulking police officer grabbed a young woman by the back of her neck, yanked her over a metal barrier and slammed her into the ground, her skull smacking against a curb.
A second officer then picked up Saman Waquad and tossed her back over the barricade where her back slammed into a cement stair. The crowd erupted in anger, chanting “Who do you protect?” over and over.
Waquad –who attended the Troy Davis rally after years of following his story– says that two officers were involved in grabbing and tossing her against the steps in front of the federal building.
“Honestly, I’m five feet tall and I weigh a hundred pounds. I don’t know at what point somebody thought that I would be a physical threat to a cop. All I was doing was taking pictures of them brutally grabbing somebody from the crowd,” the 28 year-old said.
“As somebody who lives in this country and pays taxes, I have the right to be able to peacefully protest an injustice,” she added.
An Emboldened Movement
Moments later, a senior NYPD police officer announced that anybody still on Wall Street after five minutes would be subject to arrest.
The protesters filed back in and suddenly the plaza –which has been criticized as the project of over-educated white kids– began to show signs of the diversity it has so sorely lacked.
The reaction of the NYPD Thursday night was predictably overzealous and needlessly violent. What wasn’t expected, however, was the spontaneous merger of two growing struggles. One group has taken to the streets out of frustration with an economic status-quo they say leaves too many with not enough. The other has voiced outrage over a so-called justice system that disproportionately targets, imprisons and kills people of color.
Both are struggles against marginalization. Both are refusing to remain silent.
They have now marched together, stood up to the police together and been arrested together. Such experiences can create formidable bonds. In its attempt to suppress popular dissent, the NYPD may have just emboldened a movement.
Ryan Devereaux is a Democracy Now! news production fellow and an independent journalist. Follow him on Twitter @RDevro
Today in NY
Published 2011-09-25 12:11:29 UTC by OccupyWallSt
At least four arrested, one for shooting photos UPDATE: at least eighty arrested, five maced | RETRACTION: no tear gas used
We have at least four arrests today during a community march, a fifth arrest is suspected but police will not confirm.
A legal observer attempting to contact an arrested member was not allowed to due to “an emergency situation,” we are currently unsure of what this means. At least one arrest was due to a protester taking photographs. At least one protester's possessions have not been returned.
Please call the first precinct, central booking and the Deputy Commissioner of Public Information and urge them to release these peaceful protesters.
First precinct: +1 (212) 334-0611
Central booking: +1 (212) 374-3921
Deputy Commissioner of Public Information: +1 (646) 610-6700
NYPD Switchboard: 1-646-610-5000
UPDATE: We are now receiving reports that at least 80 protesters have been arrested. The National Lawyer's Guild puts the number at around one hundred. Liberty square is currently full with an ongoing discussion on how to respond to this unprecedented level of police aggression. Police are currently surrounding the square. There is nearly one police officer for every two protesters.
Earlier today we had reports of police kettling protesters with large orange net, using tasers, at least five protesters have been maced.
UPDATE: Some pictures http://twitpic.com/6pzd48
Tuesday 9/27 6pm-8pm in the Multicultural Community Center in MLK Student Union.Food, drinks, merrymaking. Come meet fellow organizers and activists and learn about anti-austerity organizing.
Wednesday 9/28 6pm at 2070 Allston Way, Suite#205, just off of Shattuck Ave.
More info and resources:
Sept 22 Involvement Quarter Sheet
Friday, September 23, 2011
Friday, September 23 · 6:00pm - 9:00pm
Roachdale Common Room (2424 Haste Street)
EMERGENCY! Many members of the multicultural community have expressed a NEED to discuss the "Increase Diversity Bake Sale" event, among other things, that has been circulating Facebook and the Berkeley campus. In response to these requests, we will be holding an emergency town hall to discuss this and possible actions, we, as a multicultural community, can join together in response to this event that will be taking place on our Berkeley campus.
Place: Roachdale Common Room
** The Place is subject to change as we are trying to coordinate this event with all the cultural spaces.
Here is the link to the event that we will be discussing: http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=180017028739215
We hope to see you all there.
One of our valued comrades and partner of a UC graduate was severely beaten by police inside Tolman Hall last night, while he cried out repeatedly, "please stop hurting me." As a matter of course, he was issued severe charges; the more the police injure someone, the worse the charges must be so as to justify their violence.
There is little doubt that he will not be convicted, should this go to trial. However, because his injuries were severe and he had been denied medical attention at the UCPD building nor at Santa Rita, his partner felt it was imperative to get him out as swiftly as possible. This meant posting bond rather than the $15,000 bail, and forfeiting the $1,500.
The good news is that his partner just started a community care job this week that provides medical insurance; she told me this, tearfully but wryly, last night. The bad news is that she is currently broke. She managed to get the necessary amount from her family, but they themselves are quite poor. As a result, we are taking up a collection to help repay them some or all of the amount, and asking for your support. Please understand: because this was bond and not bail, any donations will be exactly that; it won't be returned at trial. We are grateful for contributions of any amount.
Please contact Joshua Clover (email@example.com) if you are able to help with this, and we'll make arrangements about gathering what we can — and we'll repeat our thanks, both in specific and for the strength of our shared friendships.
Thursday, September 22, 2011
For all concerned faculty at the University of California:
•Public education for all is one of the great contributions of America to modern life, and was fought for by brilliant educators from John Dewey to Clark Kerr. It has always had doubters and enemies; it is at risk and will not survive unless we defend it once again.
•All of us must be able to defend public education to our colleagues, our students and the public. To do so, we must be able to articulate its basic purposes and priorities, as well as criticize the misunderstandings and mistakes of our administration, the Regents, and the dominant ideology.
•Public education is an investment in the young by the general public and older generations. It rests on the belief that our collective future, the future of this State and country, depends on their talents and wisdom. That is why it should be virtually free. It is not a personal investment by those with ample means, like private universities.
•Educating the young to the highest level has three essential purposes: improving their contribution to economic prosperity, making them into the most capable citizens and leaders, and fulfilling their potential for personal growth and satisfaction
•The 3-tier college system of California is a brilliant solution to reconciling two fundamental goals of higher education: open opportunity and the promotion of excellence among our students.
•In the University of California, research and teaching must always go together. Research informs the best teaching and teaching introduces students to the best minds. Yet this partnership is being eroded by those who think that research is the sole purpose of elite universities and that teaching is a lower activity that should be relegated to lecturers and graduate students.
•Research is a basic function of the university. Research advances the frontiers of human knowledge and has unexpected benefits for society and economy. Sometimes these benefits emerge years or decades later, which is why is it important to support basic research and not only marketable applications. Research is done by faculty across all the disciplines and its value is not to be measured simply by potential economic payoff.
•The natural sciences have much larger financial needs for running laboratories, and require greater outside finance resources (from government, foundations and industry), as well as greater needs for support from the university. This puts special demands on science faculty and the university. But it does not obviate the need for teaching nor does it put research funding above things such as good classrooms and libraries.
•Funding for public education is being eroded all across the country and around the world, as part of the larger shift to neoliberalism, i.e., away from government and toward private enterprise in all social provision. This is not a California problem alone nor a short-term dip due to the Great Recession.
•The university leadership is obsessed with money, putting aside all considerations of UC's larger values. All they think of is raising tuition, attracting private donations, and garnering more research grants, along with cost-cutting. In so doing, they endanger the future of the public university and make UC more and more like a private institution.
•UC and Berkeley are not "brands" like Coca-Cola to be marketed for revenues. We do not put billboards on campus and we should not be in the business of selling on-line courses and external degrees. We can make use of the internet and other technologies to reach a broader audience, but with great care not to degrade our educational mission.
•The current crisis is being used by the university leadership to make hasty decisions without adequate faculty control and to make end-runs around the university community. Faculty governance was central to making this the greatest public university in the world, and it has been badly eroded. Faculty cannot remain quiet, but need to speak out through the Senates and Faculty Associations on all 10 campuses.
•Extreme salary inequality has demoralized many younger faculty and many of those most dedicated to the university. Their ire is directed at both overpaid administrators and extreme 'star salaries' for some faculty. This university became great by hiring well, promoting well and nurturing the best minds. Yet today it is under-paying its younger faculty while spending large amounts playing the free-agent game at the top.
•University leaders, and all of us, need to speak to the people of California. All indications are that they support the higher education system and are willing to pay for it. But the political system is incapable of overcoming ideological opposition to taxes and rational budgeting and our leaders are unwilling and unable to provide political leadership in what is a profoundly political debate over the future of the state.
•Quite modest taxes would restore full funding to the university and state colleges. We calculate that a mere $40 per year by the median tax-payer would return the system to sufficient revenues without the fee increases of the last 10 years. Why can't this be done? (for further information go to http://keepcaliforniaspromise.org/)
•We believe that faculty, students, staff, parents and alumni could be mobilized to put unprecedented pressure on the legislature to re-fund public education in the State of California, if the President and Chancellors across the system would mobilize the greater UC community and provide the leadership we all sorely need.
The Berkeley Faculty Association
Wendy Brown and Chris Rosen, Co-Chairs
Richard Walker, Vice-Chair
September 21, 2011
Don’t be intimidated by the police, they might be in our halls but we will be ok since we got each other’s backs and they know this. Interestingly, earlier we overheard the police saying that the one thing they do not want students to do is to break out their books and start studying and doing homework! Why are they so afraid of this? We don’t know, but this space is open for you to study. Please do so.
Some info on why Tolman Hall is an appropriate space for us to take and why people have taken it:
-Tolman Hall houses the Department of Education. This is an important symbol of our struggle for free public education for all.
-Tolman Hall currently houses few classes due to seismic retrofitting. Any excuse by the UCPD and UC Administration that our presence here constitutes a disruption of classes is not true. The only disruption would be the UCPD."
Bay of Rage: Book Block Makes It Happen at UC Berkeley:
Day 1: September 22 the first day of anti-austerity actions on CA campusesPublic Education Coalition, Update 3:
After a rally that drew more than 400, a 20 title strong book bloc led the crowd on a rowdy march through the campus towards Tollman Hall. Upon reaching the building, the book bloc fought off police as the crowd rushed in to occupy the building. Over the next hours, students and friends occupied multiple rooms of the building while police watched nervously. Meetings were held, students held a skype meeting with their counterparts in Chile, donated food was delivered and those present discussed how to push the struggle forward over the next months. At 9pm, riot police flooded the building and clashes broke out as those inside forced their way through police lines and rocks and bottles rained down on the officers. By the end of the day, the police had made two arrests and one book The Sex That is Not One by Luce Irigaray was confiscated by police.
This was the first day of what promises to be a hot fall on campuses across the state.
Unfortunately, the open occupation was ended rather violently by the UCPD. While students and community members had gone into Tolman to create an open, collective alternative space for organizing, studying and solidarity, the UCPD had no intention of allowing students to live in peace. UCPD tackled a demonstrator some time around 8PM arresting him for likely bogus charges. Later, while students chanted in the lobby of Tolman, UCPD tried to block the doors to force students in. When students tried to open the doors, UCPD pushed, punched, and batoned students. One demonstrator trying to exit was tackled, beaten, and had his legs twisted for absolutely no reason. His screams were audible even after UCPD carried him to the second floor of Tolman.Occupy CA: UC Berkeley Tolman Hall Occupied
Daily Cal Live Blog: Day of Action
Daily Cal Article: Day of Action ends in violence, two arrests
Daily Cal Storify: UC Berkeley's Day of Action
Golden Gate Xpress: UC Berkeley students occupy Tolman Hall, two arrested
KRON: U.C. Berkeley Demonstrators Occupy Empty Classroom Building to Protest Tuition Hikes
ABC: 9 Hour Protest Ends at UC Berkeley
CBS: Classrooms at UC Berkeley Occupied by Tuition Hike Protesters
SF Chronicle: UC Protests Funding Cuts
Sacramento Bee: Students seize UC Berkeley hall
AP: Student Protesters Occupy UC Berkeley Building
CNN: Berkeley students take over campus building to protest proposed tuition hike
Twitter: @callie_hoo, @reclaimuc
We’ve come together today to call for a halt to the destruction of our public schools,
and to insist that education be universally accessible and free. But today we are not
simply pressing demands; we’re also working collectively to reclaim our campus, to
make it a little more public and a little less estranged from us. Starting this afternoon,
we’re opening up a university building to be used as an organizing and educational
space; for teach-ins, film screenings, planning meetings, and whatever else we students,
workers, and debtors at large decide will help us more effectively resist austerity.
We’ve decided to begin by reclaiming the seismically-unsafe Tolman Hall. In August
2011, The Daily Cal reported that in the midst of the “financial crisis”, unsafe
buildings across the 10 UC-campuses would have to wait before they could be
retrofitted. The administration has shut down 13 classrooms in Tolman Hall, which we
are here to reclaim and transform. The UC administration has engaged in an actuarial
risk assessment and decided that students should not be in the building but that
workers are still required to labor there daily. While buildings like Tolman Hall are
being closed throughout the UC-campuses, the University continues to build multimillion
dollar buildings that are nominally public. Tolman Hall stands as a ruin of
public education. We want to call attention to the ways in which the dismantling of
public education and public services is manifested by the defunding of public
infrastructures on our campuses and in all classrooms across this country – buildings
and classrooms that are not simply “brick and mortar” but are the spaces of
collective action and institutional memory. Today, we move to remake these landscapes
of inequality and to open up a new center of resistance.
We invite all (with the exception
of police officers and UC
administrators) to join us in
reclaiming and holding this space
open so that we may begin to
dream and imagine together how
we can re-build a truly public
university on the ruins of this one.
Monday, September 19, 2011
It's official -- the administration continues to grow as faculty and workers continue to shrink. In this context, it's worth noting once again that administrators are the only ones getting substantial raises these days (the Daily Cal has the enemies list). We have to remember that austerity doesn't only mean cutbacks and layoffs -- it also corresponds to hirings and bonuses.
Here's the full report from Keep California's Promise:
In November of 2009, KeepCaliforniasPromise.org posted a report by Richard Evans titled “Soon every faculty member will have a personal senior manager” which pointed out that the number of managers at UC was growing far faster than the ranks of the faculty and that, if the trend continued, it would not be long before there were more senior managers than ladder rank faculty. Richard just sent me an e-mail pointing out that data through April of 2011 was out.
I wondered if the data would show how the “Working Smarter Initiative” and much talked about cuts of $80 million to the UC Office of the President, had combined with promises to first and foremost “preserve excellence in instruction, research and public service… which it cannot do without continuing to attract and retain top-flight faculty” (see, http://www.universityofcalifornia.edu/news/article/25580) to reverse that trend.
Well, it turns out faculty ranks have declined by 2.3 percent since the 2009 post, at a time when student enrollment increased by 3.6 percent. (I would hope the UC administration wouldn’t try to spin a continuing erosion of a major measure of academic quality such as the student faculty ratio as increased efficiency.)
But we all know the budget cuts have been tough. Even an administration striving to preserve the education and research missions of the University by directing as many of the cuts as possible at administrative overhead might have to make painful cuts to the employees responsible for education and research in such an environment. The cuts to senior administrators must be even steeper, right? At least as steep?
Somehow the ranks of managers have continued to grow right through this difficult period – up 4.2% between April, 2009 and April, 2011. In fact, the dismal prediction of our 2009 post has now come to pass: UC now has more senior managers (8,822 FTE) than ladder rank faculty (8,669 FTE).
Originally posted here.
a guest post by Zach Schwartz-Weinstein
Zuccotti Park in the Lower Manhattan financial district has been occupied by a politically diverse group for the last three days, with participation of up to several thousand at a time. Protesters have renamed the space “Liberty Park,” to brand it as an American counterpoint to Cairo’s Tahrir (“Liberation”) Square, and it has played host to general assemblies of thousands of people, hundreds of whom have slept in the park for the last two nights.
They hope to begin a sustained occupation to, in the words of two of the authors of the original call to action, “escalate the possibility of a full-fledged global uprising against business as usual.”
Taking cues not only from the so-called Arab Spring revolts in Tunisia, Egypt, Yemen, Libya, Bahrain, Iran, and Syria, but also the Spanish indignados, and anti-cuts protestors in the UK, Greece, France, and Italy, as many as 5,000 protestors converged on Wall Street this past Saturday. A march Monday morning resulted in seven arrests.
That many of these protesters are or have been students should surprise few. Yet rather than dismiss their actions as youthful idealism, it’s important to understand the role students have played in the struggle against contemporary austerity politics.
Though the language of austerity measures is often promissory, gesturing towards an alternatingly apocalyptic future (which we must sacrifice now to avoid) or a bucolic future (which awaits us after austerity ‘rights the ship,’) many cuts have targeted youth, mortgaging that future or rendering it altogether absent.
The news last year that student debt has surpassed credit card debt as the largest source of consumer debt in the United States is a function of rising costs of attending higher education, cuts to state and federal financial aid, and the growth of for-profit private industry around the student loan bubble.
This summer’s debt-ceiling compromise included an end to subsidized loans for graduate students, and in a year, it will mean that graduate and professional students will have to pay back their undergraduate student loans while in grad school, a difficult proposition for many.
This occupation is not the first on U.S. soil in recent years, and it is unlikely to be the last.
Whether and how it can attract the levels of support and involvement that similar occupations have elsewhere is an open question, but even NY Mayor Michael Bloomberg sees in the present crisis the possibility of escalating student rebellions.
Washington Post photo gallery
International Business Times article (“several thousand protesters showed up in New York’s financial district”) photo gallery
Guardian op-ed (“The call to occupy Wall Street resonates around the world”)
DailyKos: Chris Bowers
Meanwhile, at 55 Wall Street, the building's occupants stand around and on the balconies drinking champagne and um, playing the fiddle.