Sunday, January 29, 2012

Note From the Revolutionaries (of Color)

Originally posted on 1/28/2011 at Bicycle Barricade.

“And in my opinion, the young generation of whites, blacks, browns, whatever else there is, you’re living at a time of extremism, a time of revolution, a time when there’s got to be a change, people in power have misused it, and now there has to be a change. And a better world has to be built and the only way it’s going to be built is with extreme methods. And I, for one, will join in with anyone — I don’t care what color you are — as long as you want to change this miserable condition that exists on this earth.”

~ El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz (Malcolm X)

“I propose nothing short of the liberation of the man of color from himself.”

~ Frantz Fanon (aka Ibrahim Fanon)

We, the revolutionaries (of color), who strategized, organized, mobilized, and directly participated in the action to take over the former cross cultural center at UCD, which was an abandoned building, have decided to send a very clear and straightforward message to respond to the lies, propaganda, and misrepresentation of our movement—a misrepresentation that was systematically perpetrated by a couple of ‘people-of-color’ (p-o-c) groups on campus that have proved to function from within the administrative logic of the university, the very same logic that uses the police force to repress student protest.

Three/four days ago when we took over the building, we began with a clear anti-colonial, anti-imperialist, and fundamentally anti-capitalist position. This was made clear when we rejected liberalism (the political supplement to capitalism): 1. We physically blocked media and surveillance into our “autonomous” space, 2. We confronted someone who wanted to sneak in an American flag into the building.

Our message was clear: We do not want administrative presence and the symbol of Empire in our space. We realize full well that the flag represents genocide, war, racism, imperialism, torture, surveillance, and the continued colonization of people (of color). We also understand the history of indigenous struggle in the Americas well enough to know that a proper anticolonial movement (decolonization) involves the total dismantling of settler-colonialism. We also know that anti-colonialism without anti-capitalism is not a total critique of the given order. We realize that a proper struggle requires us to understand the ideological history of the Americas, the coordinates of indigenous resistance to State violence, and forms of political action that combat the ideology of colonialism. This was the foundation upon which we wanted to begin to build our movement. We knew that the rejection of the flag was symbolic, but nonetheless, we were excited about the tone the movement began to have within that space (a space that also has its own radical history).

When we put up that banner “Revolution is the only Culture” (a paraphrased Fanon quote) we knew very well that it would disturb, challenge, and expose the ideological function of late liberal multicultural capitalism. We were ready for the battle with the multiculturalist logic that helps pacify and commodify marginalized communities of color into fixed non-revolutionary entities. We understand the importance of culture well enough to know that true culture is an impossibility within capitalist social relations. We know clearly that what is presented as culture is fundamentally a non-culture, a kind of non-being, an inauthentic existence, determined by the historical conditions of the exploitative relations of capitalism. Culture is nothing but a horizontal arrangement of meaningless, colonized entities within the marketplace. And, therefore, culture is in need of liberation. Revolution is the only activity that can properly dismantle relations of exploitation that produce reified conceptions of identity. In this sense, we are fundamentally against identity politics. Identity politics, which is supported by the administration, has absolutely nothing to do with the realization of human potential. It has everything to do with coopting communities of color into the logic of capitalism, ghettoizing marginal identities into narrow surveilled places, and using techniques of imprisonment (e.g. prisons, schools, mental institutions, social service institutions) upon bodies of color to finalize the colonial state. Every colonial project fundamentally worked through the methods of physical genocide and cultural genocide. We know that the colonial project in the Americas involved the same exact process of occupying a land through physical means, and then continuing with cultural genocide through institutions of education. Our fight against the administration is a fight against cultural genocide and colonialist capitalism.

When EOP (Educational Opportunity Program) came over to argue to get back the space, they were supported by a couple of p-o-c groups that ignorantly spoke of their identities and their cultures as if they are self-evident. They spoke of their individual stories of oppression and trauma. While we respect individuals, we fundamentally reject the line of reasoning that allows for this kind of isolation. We think it is a total misreading of the social, economic crises in communities of color, because no amount of individual counseling or therapy can resolve the larger problem of capitalism. The problem of capitalism can only be solved through revolutionary action which emerges from the tension between historical determinations and struggle. This is precisely why it is important for us to be aware of our own historical condition/moment. The revolutions in North Africa and the Middle East did not come out of a vacuum. A certain kind of historical situation presented itself, a certain set of crises emerged, and a certain kind of revolutionary struggle realized its task at hand. Identity politics is a strategy encouraged by administrative logic that aims to cloud the political truth procedures of marginalized and oppressed communities. And, therefore, identity politics within the logic of multiculturalism works against revolutionary politics. Our confrontation with EOP and the non-revolutionary p-o-c groups prove this point. We offered to share our space with EOP to help them become self-reliant. We also offered to occupy a larger place on campus for them. They declined both offers, and insisted on transitioning into our occupied space because that is what the administration asked them to do.

When Malcolm X argues for “extreme methods” he is precisely talking about rejecting the idea of making “peace” with oppression, making “peace” with the system. We, the revolutionaries (of color) know very clearly the role of the ‘truth’ of politics. We know how to identify our friends and enemies. Our truth is based on political action, but also a proper understanding of the “critique of political-economy.” In this sense, we never separate theory from action. We learn through doing, and we do when we learn. We are always ready to begin from the beginning. We know that the true movement of history can open up a different future, a different society without exploitation. When Fanon speaks of liberating “the man of color from himself” he is precisely talking about this possibility of the unfolding of history in the true revolutionary direction, where we destroy constructs created by the system.

Revolution is the only Culture.

Destroy (reified conceptions of) difference.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

To Chancellor White from Concerned Members of the UCR Community


(Via Facebook)

Dear Chancellor White,

In light of the events of January 19, we felt it appropriate to issue our own letter asking for your response to some urgent questions. We are citizens of this community—students, faculty and staff—demanding answers for the troubling events of last Thursday.

Whose decision was it to militarize an unarmed, nonviolent protest on our campus on January 19, by calling in police in riot gear to threaten and assault a crowd of protesters who continually insisted loudly that their protest was intended to be peaceful?

Who decided that this peaceful protest was an “unlawful assembly,” as the police repeatedly announced over the PA system? On what basis was this determined?

Why did you (or whoever else was responsible) not come out to address the crowd and explain this decision? Did you hear them chanting, “Tell us why”? What makes a large crowd of dissatisfied people demanding dialogue with their representatives on their own campus an “unlawful assembly”? And don't those whose actions are unilaterally deemed “unlawful” deserve an explanation as to why?

Your Friday letter states that the behavior of a “small number of individuals... briefly and peacefully shut down the Regents meeting... Their actions, while making a point to disrupt and while remaining nonviolent, nonetheless prevented others from listening to the discussion by denying public access to the remainder of the meeting.”

If, as you acknowledge, the actions of that small group of students were nonviolent, why and how would the actions of a handful of disruptive students cause the entire protest to be deemed “unlawful assembly” and justify the threat of force and arrest against all of the other students and faculty members gathered?

Why has nonviolent disruption, assertiveness and defiance been equated with aggression, violence and threat on our campus, when Gandhi himself called for nonviolent disobedience to be forceful and confrontational, and when, from a first amendment perspective, “disruptive” and “dangerous” are two very different things?

You say in your most recent Friday letter that you needed to “use our police to ensure the safety of meeting participants as well as the majority of protest participants.” But is there any evidence that any of the protesters were threatening the Regents, rather than simply using disruptive—and potentially embarrassing—tactics to make their demands visible?

Even if it is still true that police presence was required, why did the police have to be armed with violent equipment, as though they were facing dangerous criminals? Could they not simply have been sent to observe and monitor the proceedings; why did they have to be armed to the hilt, and then escalate the situation with the threats and use of potentially lethal force?

Who, in this situation, was the real “threat” to our campus’ security: a group of dissatisfied but unarmed students and faculty chanting “peaceful protest!”, or a group of highly-armed police threatening to and willing to use force through batons, tear gas and rubber bullets (which have been known to kill people in other conflicts)?

Your Friday letter expresses concern about officers who “received minor injuries, as barricades were thrown at them and signs used as weapons.” But what we see in the following videos are police in full riot gear shoving unarmed students and faculty with batons, and then firing paint-filled bullets at them. Please see, among MANY others, the videos and reports of injuries to students and faculty from police violence:

What we see on the following video clips are the protesters seizing the police barricades and trying to place them between themselves and the police. We do not see anyone using the barricades to attack the police. ( Meanwhile, the following video shows a protester being hit with rubber/paint pellets. That student is clearly in a great deal of pain and saying that he is having trouble breathing. He is carried away by a handful of other students who call out for water and help:, skip to 4:30)

You can also see from the videos that the response of the protesters was to chant, “peaceful protest, peaceful protest!”

How can rubber bullets and batons be considered a justifiable response to disruption and embarrassment that is not in any way physically dangerous? What evidence do we have that it was the protesters, and not the highly-armed and militarized police force, who escalated the violence?

What accounts for the tight, 1-minute so-called "comment period" provided at the Regents' meeting? Students and faculty were demanding an open forum that was NOT controlled by the Regents' own inadequate vision of what constitutes democratic dialogue and transparent decision-making. In light of this, why should their demand to be heard at such a forum be construed as a threat, justifying such escalated violence?

When fully-armed police are sent in to threaten, shove and physically assault unarmed people who are already frustrated, resentful and angry at being criminalized and having lost their voices, will this not inevitably escalate the level of violence?

So, in conclusion, Chancellor White, we are seeking answers for what happened on January 19, but are also deeply concerned with the implications of these events for the future of free speech on our campus. What makes a crowd of unarmed, peacefully dissenting people “unlawful” and “dangerous”? Who gets to decide, and on what basis? And, what forms of free, nonviolent speech and expression of dissent can be considered “lawful” on our campus, so that they are not met with met with exaggerated militarization, and the escalation of institutionally-authorized violence?


Concerned Members of the UCR Community

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Communique from the occupied Crush Culture Center

reposted from UCDecolonized

The spaces we live in are broken: occupation is our defense.

As capital spirals further into crisis, we are constantly confronted with the watchword of austerity. We are meant to imagine a vast, empty vault where our sad but inevitable futures lie. But we are not so naïve. Just as Wall Street functions on perpetually revolving credit markets where cash is merely a blip, so also does our state government. High tuition increases have been made necessary not by shrinking savings, but by a perpetually expanding bond market, organized by the UC Regents, enforced through increasing tuition and growing student loan debt. Growth has become a caricature of itself, as the future is sold on baseless expanding credit from capitalist to capitalist. Our future is broken. We are the crisis. Our occupations are the expressions of that crisis.

But on the university campuses, where militarization is increasing daily, we have more immediate needs. Our relationship with the administration and police is not one of trust and openness; the arrogance and nonchalance with which they regularly inflict violence against us is just as regularly followed by a thoroughly dissembling, inadequate, and cowardly condemnation of that violence. One hand attacks—one hand denies. Our universities and our public spaces are today ultra-militarized zones, where students and workers are monitored and subjugated under the pretense of “health and safety.” Officer Kemper from UC Irvine drew his gun at the Regents’ meeting at UCSF. Berkeley UCPD participated in violently clearing the Oakland Communards from Oscar Grant Plaza just weeks before they would come to UC Davis for the events of November 18th. On the day of the first Oakland General Strike, UCOP office in Oakland was lent out to OPD to “monitor” protests. Under the pretext of mutual aid, squads of armed and armored riot cops move from one campus, one public space, one city, to the next. The circulation of cops throughout the state shows that the mobile, militarized force of repression knows no boundaries: it will protect capital, government, and the status quo, wherever they are threatened. In a university whose motto is fiat lux, the administration crushes dissent and veils its intentions with lies. It has the same intentions as Mayor Quan or the Military in Egypt: to crush resistance, by any means necessary.

To continue our resistance, our immediate need is to create a safe space of togetherness, care, and freedom. When we occupied Mrak, the same officers who would later be involved in pepper spraying us watched over us as we slept. As we gathered to discuss, plan, and act to protect our right to education, the Orwellian “Freedom of Expression Team” and the “University Communications Team” loomed nearby, texting the pigs and administration on their stupid androids, smiling at us in their fake, overfed way, scooting near like unpopular highschool kids trying to overhear the weekends’ party plans. Later, these same concerned FOEs, would stand by on the quad and do nothing, grinning like idiots, as students pepper-sprayed at point blank range called for medics. It is clear to us that public space has become a euphemism for militarized, ordered, monitored space. Occupation opens a common space which is not the extension of private property to group property, but the active exclusion of all that reinforces private property. We must exclude the police and the administration, and their “Freedom of Expression Team” lackeys as well, in order to create the openness and togetherness which is impossible in their presence.

The UC Chancellor, President, Regents—who prattle on endlessly about diversity while the university closes its doors to brown students, who hail marginal utility while “the economy” closes its fist around the poor, who dream up ways to boost the university’s standing on some imaginary scale of “excellence” while slurs, swastikas, nooses, and Klan masks appear endlessly on our campus, who meet protests with violence and truth with lies—they have already proven their incapacity to imagine a future different than the present. We occupy because we will not wait for the broken future they have planned for us, because we do not trust our “elected officials” or administrators to make decisions that address problems beyond their own narrow interests. This action is not the beginning of a discussion; this is the end of the discussion. We cannot negotiate for our needs, we will not negotiate for our needs, we will meet our needs.

Solidarity with the Egyptian Rebels from Occupied California #J25

At one year from the Egyptian uprising, much love and solidarity from the occupied Crush Culture Center at UC Davis. For more on the occupation, see the Communiqué from the Occupied Crush Culture Center and the Communiqué for a Radical Occupation.

Also, this anecdote:
“Yesterday, hanging a solidarity banner with Egypt, written in Arabic, with two of my closest comrades, a Palestinian man and a queer Iranian-jew, we were told by a group of mostly white women that our ‘movement’ was run by straight white males.”

Monday, January 23, 2012

"We Won!": Reflections on Two Occupations of the Same Library

Guest post by our comrade @repoliticize...

With so few “concrete” victories since the wave of student uprisings swept California in the fall of 2009, it’s a pleasure to stop for a moment, open up a beer, and say it: we won.

For the second time, a “study-in” occupation at the UC Berkeley Anthropology Library has yielded measurable—and surprisingly swift—results. I’d like to think for a moment about what it means to say, “we won,” whether or not we actually did “win,” and what this means going forward, but first, the background on the library occupation.

A much-loved and well-used library on the southeast corner of campus, the George and Mary Foster Anthropology Library was the first to suffer the disastrous consequences of a university policy that aims to eliminate 20-30 library staff positions over the next two to three years via a process of attrition. When the Anthropology Library’s only permanent staffer left his position over winter break, no interviews were set up to replace him. As a result, that library’s head librarian—herself in an interim position since 2009—had no choice but to sever the library’s hours by nearly 50 percent.

As of today, the library has returned to its Fall 2011 schedule. Faculty from the Anthropology Department have agreed to staff the library until a student can be found for a temporary position, and interviews for a permanent staff member will begin within 30 days.

Moving in last Thursday, the occupiers of the Anthropology Library threatened to extend their occupation until their demands were met and the library hours were restored with full staffing, and this was accomplished in just two nights, or about 50 hours of occupation. This is not an unprecedented success: two years ago, the Anthropology Library was occupied after its Saturday hours had been eliminated, and in less than a week, the library hours were restored.

One lesson we may take from this is that direct action works. In fact, in the case of the Anthropology Library, it has consistently worked. And we should take this moment to celebrate the significant manner in which direct action has restored part of the basic functioning of the university and—at least in this one case—reversed the terribly damaging policy of an increasingly profit-oriented administration.

But moving forward, we should be weary of overstating our success in the Anthropology Library. I write this from a re-opened library in its restored hours. One banner remains, hanging from a balcony outside until the rain stops and the department chair deems it “safe” enough to recover it. Twice now, we have made the extraordinarily reasonable student demands of keeping the library open, and twice now, we have achieved these demands—at the expense of the long-term indefinite occupation (or in 2009, a rolling, recurring occupation).

In short, this occupation is as much of a success as we allow it to be. In 2009, restoring the libraries' hours meant the end of the library occupations, but the library “study-in” model became enormously successful in its own right, being reproduced across the state on countless occasions. On the UC Berkeley campus, the library occupations took a pause, but the success bolstered organizing on campus for the November 20, 2009, occupation of Wheeler Hall—the largest and best-remembered event on campus in recent memory.

In 2009 we had no “Occupy”—we were, for a time, alone in that game. We were the California occupationists, the crazies at the marches with the U-locks in our backpacks and the “Occupy Everything” banner overhead. Winning at the library, at that moment, was cause for escalation. It confirmed for us the effectiveness of our tactics and reminded us to keep moving, keep organizing, and to keep taking what was already ours, returning and reshaping public space for the public.

In the nearly three years of student uprisings, the library occupations have earned us our only concrete, measurable successes. But the wrong lesson would be that by keeping our demands small, and by staying “reasonable,” we may achieve our goals. What we have won here is a band-aid for a university system suffering from hemophilia. Don’t get me wrong: we need band-aids—we need lots of them—but our small, reasonable, achievable demands will fail to produce either the university or the society for which we fight. They will simply bandage up the tools of class reproduction.

Our greatest successes over the last three years have been neither concrete nor measurable. And although a good deal of thought must be put into what “Occupy” is and represents, there can be no doubt that at the beginning of 2012, we stand on an entirely different ground from where we were a year ago. This shift has been effected not by policy enacted or reversed, but by on-the-ground organizing and a growing consciousness of and a willingness to act—to take direct action—against the structures of domination of which we have become a part.

This victory is only a victory if we use it as a springboard for further escalation and further growth. The policy we’re witnessing at the libraries is symptomatic of a larger shift at the university towards temporary, underpaid, and underemployed labor, which in turn reflects changes beyond the university as well. We must make these connections, and recognize that what it is at stake is, yes, the library, but it’s also the university, the public space, and the terms of our own subsistence. If we fight only for policies, then we have already failed.

The Oakland Commune

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Cops and Cowards: Reflections on the Recent UC Regent Protests

[Update 1/23: the original post has been slightly edited for clarity; the same changes have been made below]

From anti-imperialist inc.:
The event on Thursday, January 19 at UC Riverside was a strategic experiment for Southern California organizers and nothing that occurred should be taken at face value and assumed useless. What the press hasn’t been showing is the most important point in the entire protest: when students drove the police into a corner and off the campus in the protest’s closing moments. An action that We can most definitely learn from...

i am not particularly concerned with a majority of the activity that occurred Thursday, January 19th at the UC Regents meeting in Riverside, because the energetic ad hoc efforts of the student organizers from all of the participating UC’s speaks for itself. The day represented a solid advancement for Southern California student activism. It is an advancement that has been growing and will hopefully continue to fuel a sense of urgency for Our struggle.

What i am concerned with in this essay, is what has been lacking from the critiques of Thursday the 19th: creativity, tactical analysis and above all: a look into the events that unfolded while the cops still maintained their presence on campus post-meeting. This moment, for me, crystalized an idea that has been floating around the UC community/blogosphere for some time now, the struggle cannot only pertain to austerity and fee hikes, but the opportunity has been widening for making domestic militarization a central focus of Our praxis in the student movement. A decision that has the potential to connect the struggles of students fighting tuition increases and eroding access to education, to the struggles in the prisons, to the struggles anti-violence groups face, with the struggles of immigrants rights groups and with the struggles of communities across the state.

Earlier accounts of police violence at the Davis and Berkeley campuses have been vainly provincialized, described as epic calamitieswhere moral outrage was merely the result of police crossing the boundaries of whiteness. So with this understanding, i do not want to dismiss the importance of acknowledging the privileged perceptions amongst the liberals and a majority of UC advocates, as a barrier between understanding modes of domination in the US and within the UC community itself. This understanding is the basis of my politics and this essay should be read with an assumed understanding of the context in which it is written from.

It should be also addressed that this is not an attempt towards a superficial inclusion (occupier “semantics”), let alone a crass stab at progressive coalition, it is a call for a genuine movement against domestic militarism, institutional racism, and all that is imbedded within the logic of Western law enforcement. It should be made very clear that a militarized police presence is, nonetheless, the divide between Us students and any dream of completely controlling Our educations. The police were the physical wall between Us and the Regents on Thursday the 19th, they were the lurking force that surveilled organizers prior to the meeting, and outside of the University they are the physical embodiment of all that is so completely fucked in Our society.

South Exit Occupied by Students
South Exit Occupied by Students

Book Block Holdin' it Down
Book Block Holdin' it Down

First off, i want to make clear that reflections on the event’s engagement with the police cannot be allowed to fall victim to the same institutional press coverage and useless chronological recaps of events. We are battling on a new terrain. Many of the Southern California campuses have never seen political activity of this magnitude, so Our organizing efforts have to be fresh and creative. As well, Our reflections on actions like this need to be conducted in a manner contradictory to the norm. If We are going to conquer the new terrain before Our oppressors, We must squeeze every drop of creative and theoretical juice possible out of the body of information generated from Our actions. Whether it be strategic, theoretical, artistic or humorous, alternative forms of reflection will always have the potential to breathe new life into the praxis of SoCal student activism.

So in this manner, i do not want to make this piece a summary on the entire event itself, but rather a conceptual analysis on its conclusion and epilogue. Our practice of protest in Southern California is embarking on something this region has never experienced, but with that comes the responsibility of not falling into the patterns of the system inherent in the liberal-conservative SoCalian University atmosphere.

To briefly summarize the conclusion of the protest: During the majority of the meeting demonstrators blocked ALL three possible exits a number of exits the Regents could use and their parking lot entrance/exit as well, shifting from exits to exit throughout the course of the day, unfortunately never occupying them at the same time. However, once further police violence erupted and the riot police began kettling demonstrators, folks got caught up in their emotions and in the spectacle of violence – serving as the initial distraction the regents needed to slip out of the third (least occupied) exit.

Note for further actions: it is an extremely hard thing to do, but organizers must be able to step outside of the moment and see past the short sightedness that everyone else inevitably has when in protest. Constantly preparing for what is going to happen next is key and it is an imperative that organizers try not to get too caught-up in the action itself. Students did an extremely good job of this on the 19th up until the masses of riot police came trucking in from the north side of the campus (Context: at this point everyone in the event was exhausted, mentally and physically... It was quite understandable).

The distraction only held temporarily, and protestors rushed after the regents as their vans drove away. In the unfolding action, the protesters at UC Riverside organically regrouped. Hundreds of students lined and then cornered the police forces that previously escorted the regents from the meeting.

When the Regent’s presence disappeared completely, the legitimacy of police authority was emptied of all its value. A mere hour after police kettled, shot and arrested demonstrators, the power relation had reversed, and a mass of students cornered the police into a state of tactical retreat.

This was a revolutionary moment – a moment beginning when the chants started changing from rhetorical protest clichés to “Leave Our Campus!” and “Fuck the Police!”

Southern Californian organizers should not take this moment for granted. This is how Our movement will succeed. If We see the police and the Regents as being no different from one and other – two sides of the same coin. The movement towards taking back Our schools cannot physically materialize (literally) into anything unless We confront the issue of the police. Hence, a radical movement that truly believes education is a right. The police are a hindrance on Our ability to speak and learn freely.

One fellow protester and i rationalized the events as they unfolded before Our eyes as “going overboard,” and at face value they did seem likely to be just that. But in reflection, the empowerment this moment gave to a campus on the cusp of mind-numbing political apathy and eternal “fratability,” the final confrontation is not something to be taken for granted. So to clarify what “going overboard” really is: an example would be the regents escalating Our tuition year after year after year after year.

The cornering of the police was a revolutionary moment that cannot be dismissed as anything other. To most, revolution sounds chaotic, and revolution seems messy. To be honest as i reflect on the epilogue of the protest, it is the very sloppiness and chaos of the closing hour, that made this day so beautiful!

Prison abolitionist Ruth Wilson Gilmore articulates power as being not “a thing” but rather “a capacity composed of active and changing relationships enabling a person, group, or institution to compel others to do things they would not do on their own” (247). In this moment the students acknowledged their own capacity for power. In the events that unfolded after the Regents’ cowardly exit, the police lost their legitimacy as a presence of authority on the student’s campus, and proved that when students unite they are a force to be reckoned with.

Instances of police infiltration into privileged environments are as productive of moments, as they are counterproductive. How We reflect on them is the difference between creating a movement against police violence that understands the entirety of the struggle, or having it concede to the coercive forces of progressive politics and liberal who-rah-rah. The student movement must understand that police violence is structural and proliferates daily not even 100 yards away from most University campuses. In fact, a dialogue on real police brutality and real police violence (legalized racist murder per say) can even lead into possible discussions on how the institution of the University is unnatural and coercive in itself (though I’ll reserve that discussion for another time).

Our generation’s student movement is growing, but the structural imbalance of power that the few who make decisions hold; whether it is in the realm of the pedagogical, economic or the state’s monopoly on violence, entails a Praxis that must involve more than hikes and cuts. Want to knock power off its pedestal? Then aim at its pillars to get to the top.

Not one person who confronted the police that day can say the events on the 19th didn’t change their perception of the University. For a display of anger to occur at this magnitude, in the historical and geographical conditions in which they existed: a campus on the remote outskirts of the geographical and ‘Political’ UC system, should be seen as a catalyst for activist organizing on Southern California campuses. And above all it should serve as the beginning of the dismantling of the historical and physical walls that divide Us and the possibilities of controlling Our own education. Walls which encompass the Regents, the Police, the bloated salaries of administration and the fee hikes/loans (*cough* chains) that hold us down.

The goal is not “thoughtful” piecemeal reform with the Regents, which of course is going to garner national media attention Chancellor White... um duhh... calls for reform always fit in well on propaganda networks. It is total control of Our educational opportunity and the means for learning that we want. On January 13th there was no loss in the real struggle to defend education, because the real struggle isn’t to defend it, but to revolutionize it. Wanting “engaging” and “provocative” discussions with the Regents can only get so much. The goal is to end the hierarchical control of education and the defeat the family structure of Our higher education system, that as UCR’s student body president once said (roughly paraphrasing): “students should be the children, and the administrator should be like their parents.” Having someone telling you how to learn is a little different then someone teaching you how to learn. So don’t blur the two prez. Free education! Free the UC’s! Embrace radical pedagogy! And ftp.

Reportback from #J20

From an anonymous friend...

640_img_1.jpg original image ( 4000x3000)

This narrative of January 20th 2012 mostly follows the big sound bus brought by the Occupy Oakland Reclaim the Streets party. It ends during the building takeover, so there's more to the story if someone wants to add.

The morning's actions began before the sun came up, but not before the rain. Bechtel was quickly militarized (pun intended) with barricades and security guards, but people had already managed to get inside and squat the lobby. There were banks locked down or shut down all over the financial district. The sound bus gathered people and energy until the first Reclaim the Streets. It snaked around, visiting and supporting each lockdown or action and brought the music, dancing, and other ruckus with it. Bechtel was the first stop; shaking collective asses, blocking traffic to one of the world's most insidious military industrial leaders seemed to set a tone for the RtS. There was a move-in house party in front of Citibank to oppose foreclosures that included a Christmas tree, couch and TV. Code Pink was outside of Goldman Sachs with a person-sized squid to call attention to GS's slimy and sucky business dealings.

The intersection of California and Montgomery became a very important place at which to continue causing trouble all day long. Wells Fargo on one side with badass queer folks locked down and Bank of America on the other side with more lockdowns made it an ideal spot to park the bus and party and block traffic. When the police spastically arrested one person and the crowd surrounded them, many more cops showed up and the bus moved on.

Back at the Bank of America one block from B. Manning Plaza (aka Justin Herman) some folks had renamed BofA the “People's Food Bank of America” and served some delicious food to anyone walking by hungry. The bus crew was happy to partake when they arrived back at Embarcadero in time for the noon march.

The noon march was led by folks against ICE and was more regulated, but it in some ways it resembled the RtS. Although there were the ubiquitous orange-vest-people keeping the march on one side of the street, it also went to visit and support other actions before it arrived at ICE. Once ICE had been shut down, the march more or less dispersed and the RtS continued where the march left off (but without orange-vest-people of course.) Back to California and Montgomery, where the cops cut off the bus so it couldn't park again in front of the lockdown. There was one more stop before meeting up with the big evening march at BM Plaza. Unite Here Local 2 was picketing outside the Hyatt by Union Square. The union folks seemed a little less excited about being innundated with clowns, jugglers and other miscreants than the other actions, but when some bus folk joined the picket they got more into it. Suddenly it became apparent that the fountain outside the hotel had been filled with soap, because bubbles started flying in the wind, covering anyone in their path.

Real trouble started right before the bus was about to leave the Hyatt. One especially friendly officer threatened the bus driver with 15 points on his driving record and suggested that he take the bus and leave town, though in different words. With threats still fresh, the bus left without the RtS and they marched back to BM Plaza. About 15 minutes before the march started, word went around that the bus was pulled over for something having to do with the taillight. About 50 people ran over to support, but were surprised to see the whole march come up the street and surround the bus and all the cops on the scene chanting “Whose bus? Our bus!” and “Cops go home!” 10 or so minutes later, the cops let the bus leave. Not sure exactly the end of the bus story, whether it got back to Oakland or not, but hope to find out soon.

The building occupation crew waited for a while at their meetup spot for the rest of the big march to arrive. They double-checked their banners and some masked up for the action ahead. Spirits were rowdy and high on the way to the building. The anti-capitalist bloc shouted at the police riding their motorcycles on the sidewalk and prevented cars from driving through the crowd. The building itself was huge – really, really huge. It was unbelievable at first that it could be empty. There were already police barricades set up, but the march was told that there were already occupiers inside. The cops started forming lines on either side of the block filled with people, and the fear of a kettle situation was real. Folks started walking down the block, and surprise! The Bentley dealership got its windows smashed by a couple of people. After an announcement that people were inside and wanted support, the march turned back toward the building.

However, this author did not. If anyone knows the rest of the story, please contribute!

Kroeber library Study-in resolution

The following statement was just sent to the chancellors at UC Berkeley, as well as to the media, and to organizing lists:
Whereas, The George and Mary Foster Anthropology Library hours were cut this semester by close to 50%; and

Whereas, a policy of attrition is eroding all of our libraries and other vital student services; and

Whereas, the loss of resources and services has a detrimental effect on educational opportunities for students at this campus; and

Whereas, the University’s stated mission “is to serve society as a center of higher learning, providing long-term societal benefits through transmitting advanced knowledge, discovering new knowledge, and functioning as an active working repository of organized knowledge;” and, finally

Whereas, the University cannot fulfill this mission, or maintain its status as a premier learning environment, without the full functioning of, and access to, its exceptional libraries as they are pivotal in providing space for the sharing of knowledge and the free exchange of ideas; and

Be it resolved, we demand the restoration of the Anthropology Library hours to their Fall 2011 schedule; and

Be it further resolved, that we demand the proper staffing, funding, and foresight in order to maintain full operational capacity of all campus libraries; and

Be it finally resolved, that while you remain unwilling to maintain the normal operations of our library, we will keep the Anthropology Library open until our demands are met.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Statement from the Anthropology Library Occupation

[Update 1/20 9:02 am: Check out Zunguzungu's reportback from the library occupation.]

Via Occupy Cal:
We love our libraries and are here to protect them. Libraries are critically important for excellent education for all. We students, faculty, and community members collectively have decided to occupy the Anthropology Library at UC Berkeley to protest the dismantling of the library system on campus and public education as a whole.

We chose to occupy this space because the Anthropology library is a recent victim of extreme service cuts. The hours of operation are being cut from the previous, already slim, 9am-6pm to the current 12pm-5pm, because the university has not taken the necessary steps to sufficiently staff the library. The multiple attacks on campus libraries are a reflection of privatization and the devaluation of the public education system.

We are here to reverse this process. We call on the administration to take immediate action to hire another full-time librarian to ensure full access to this valuable resource.

The administration may claim that there are insufficient funds, but in reality these resources exist, but their allocation by UC administrators and the state does not adequately reflect the values of excellent public education. Why have the UC Regents continued to approve 21% increases in administration salaries, while students are being denied access to their libraries? Why are the taxes of the 1% so low while essential social services are being cut across the state and country?

We stand in solidarity with the Occupy movement as a whole and the protestors at UC Riverside who were met with violence in their attempt to protest the austerity policies of the UC Regents, Sacramento, and Washington D.C.

Defend our libraries and schools. Occupy together.

--- The Anthropology Library Occupation
January 19, 2012

The Getaway + Other Videos

UCR Book Bloc Disrupts Regents' Meeting

UC Riverside protest
A beautiful book bloc, appropriately featuring Foucault's Discipline and Punish, faced off today against the cops called in to defend the UC regents. The LA Times takes a good picture, but writes a terrible article:
Two demonstrators were arrested for crossing the police lines at the Student Union Building, according to UC Riverside spokesman James Grant. No one was reported seriously injured in the incidents, although one campus police officer suffered minor cuts on his hand from a demonstrator’s sign, Grant said.
One campus police officer suffered minor paper cuts on his pinky. Certainly, there were no students beaten with police batons or shot with rubber bullets.
Clearly, UC officials did not want a repeat of the controversial incident in November when UC Davis police pepper-sprayed student demonstrators at that campus.
Clearly, UC officials told the police to forgo the pepper spray and go straight to rubber bullets.

Fuck the police and their stenographers in the mainstream media. The real reporting's from our comrades at UC Rebel Radio:
The UC Regents' Meeting at UC Riverside began early today. Most mainstream media were inside the HUB building in which the Regents gathered. While we waited outside, reports from inside were telling that the public comment session was often interrupted by the Regents in their failed attempts to appease the student protesters who only had 1 minute each to express themselves. One comment was that regent Sherry Lansing tried to address the students by the usual means of misdirecting the students efforts towards the capital. The reports were that her comment was "useless and boring". After the public comment session was done with, the students offered their own meeting via mic check. But the Regents did nothing but hide in another room with very few people allowed in from the public. Police remained inside but did not move to arrest anybody. At around 1 p.m. everybody was running from the front doors of the HUB to the back doors through which the Regents were supposed to make their quick escape. Students took over a staircase and then another as police in riot gear blocked their way. Administrators were seen at the windows and balconies of the buildings while talking on their cell phones, taking video, and laughing at the people below them.

The police issued several orders to disperse and every time the students booed them and asked them "Why do we need to disperse? Give us a reason!" But the police only managed to repeat the same statement over and over. At one point the Chancellor of UC Riverside, Timothy P. White was seen on the balcony and was confronted by students asking to be allowed into the building and to the meeting. Upon being recognized, he quickly left the balcony and went back inside the building to never be seen again.

Later in the day, at around 3:30 p.m. the students were notified by scouts that the police were gathering in the back to make way for the exit of the Regents. Students split their ranks and took both exits, but no Regents were seen. At 4:30 p.m. (give or take) the Riverside Police Department sent in re-enforcements and the police line started their push back on the back side of the HUB building next to the parking lot.

Rubber bullets and pepper balls were fired. The police was chased over to the other side of the building. Over 5 people were arrested and there was a rumor that a fence was thrown at the riot police.

Word is that this face-off is still on-going.

We will keep you updated.
[Note: most the videos that were originally posted below have been moved to this post.]

[Note #2: for a more detailed analysis of the day from a comrade down south, check out these reflections.]

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Banner Drops at UC Berkeley

Today two banners were dropped on UC Berkeley campus. One, reading "TIME UC US OCCUPY," was dropped from the Campanile (hard to see in the picture, but that's what Daily Cal reporter Damian Ortellado, who took these pictures, tweeted) while another (actually a three-banner set), reading "FUCK YOU BIRGENEAU," was dropped at Eschelman.

This unsigned letter was apparently being distributed at the site of the banner drop:
Respectfully to:

President Mark Yudof, Regents, Chancellor Robert Birgeneau, UC Chancellors, High Level Administrators, and Fellow Students.

We come to you at a time when our careers and futures look bleak, and the future of the generations to come look even more inauspicious than our own. We can all agree in saying that in our own unique perceptions of this world, we see its problems and calamities, and recognize the time has come to act.

The voices of students have spoken. We know there is something inherently wrong within our method of operation, and as you have seen, no matter what the method of repression, even allowing time to pass to kill us, we will continue to speak and voice this message. We call on each and every one of you whose eyes touch this message to act in all your ability, with full vision and intensity, to work to create the real solutions to the problems we face, especially those within our university community.

Mohamed Bouazizi and the Arab Spring, massive worker strikes world wide, the riots in London and Greece, student revolution in Chile, the network of occupiers infecting every cultural sphere of the globe made up of people in every demographic and possible category one can be placed, when viewed together, demonstrate the underlying tensions that we as a species are feeling together. We are paying attention.

These matters must be attended to or the decline of our complexly interconnected species will surely come to disaster in due time. Today we focus on education. We ask to those who can, those who in their present time have power, to help mold a new way to how we operate and function in our educational system. Education is not a commodity only to be sold to those who can afford it. We hope that all will address their own personal responsibilities to their campus and local communities, to influence those in your spheres of work and school, to create and facilitate the solutions for our educational system, and the problems our nation faces that we see fit. No matter where you stand, we must act.

We, some students here at UC Berkeley, with the privilege at our backs to be attending this great university, have recognized the need for change through our studies in class and in our homes, and are watching with a close eye of the events that are transpiring. We understand education is the solution, and this is why we fight for it. This global awakening is a direct result of mass education and awareness through the resources we have been given through the gift of technology and human creativity. We are beginning to see, and time is running out.

To you whom it may concern: our networks only grow, and we will more than gladly generate the solutions for ours futures ourselves if you don't act in all your ability. We want to see things change, not the tabling of our tuition hikes for student outrage to die out.

The time is now.
Occupy your education.

Fiat Lux,
Go Bears!

...tic tock

Back to the Anthro Library!

Defend the Anthropology Library!Occupy Cal is calling for a ‘Study-In’ encampment inside the Anthropology library, Kroeber Hall, for Thursday, January 19 at 3pm. The Anthropology library is a recent victim of harsh service cuts caused directly by the university’s mis-management of funds and privatization. The hours are being cut from the previous, already slim, 9am-6pm hours to the current—12pm-5pm hours. This is part of the story of how university administrators are failing the educational mission of the UC, part of the corporatizing and privatizing movement. The UC regents recently raised selected salaries by 21%, yet we are still experiencing the cutting of extremely valuable resources for our education. Bring Your Own Tent, sleeping bags, and pillows for Occupy Cal’s first encampment of the Spring 2012 semester. Let’s keep the library open as a shared public space!Join Occupy Cal in a Study-in and Encampment to protest these cuts!January 19th, 2012230 Kroeber HallStudy-in: 3pm-5pmEncampment: 5pm - ?
One of the first direct actions during the fall 2009 cycle of anti-privatization protests was the "study-in" at the Anthropology library. Due to budget cuts, or so the administration misleadingly suggested, the library's hours had been cut back to the point that it would no longer open during the weekends. As midterms were coming up, students were desperate for places to study. On October 9, 2009, a group of about 300 students, workers, and faculty moved into the library and refused to leave at its 5pm closing time. UCPD initially attempted to remove them but in the end opted not to intervene -- most likely out of the administration's fear of the photos of cops dragging struggling students from the library -- and the library was held for a full 24 hours. During that time, there were study spaces, teach-ins (including a presentation by Bob Meister in which he presented for the first time his groundbreaking findings that would be published the following day as "They Pledged Your Tuition to Wall Street"), spoken word, free food, and lots of sleeping bags and pillows. On leaving the library, organizers vowed to liberate one library every week and designated the Ed/Psych library the next target. In the interim, and notably without any demands having been made, the administration miraculously found the money to keep the libraries open. Not student government, not lobbying in Sacramento, not signing petitions, not even holding rallies -- it's direct action that gets the goods.

But now, they're trying to cut the hours again. They think we're not paying attention. But we are. And we're going back:
Defend the Anthropology Library!

Occupy Cal is calling for a ‘Study-In’ encampment inside the Anthropology library, Kroeber Hall, for Thursday, January 19 at 3pm. The Anthropology library is a recent victim of harsh service cuts caused directly by the university’s mis-management of funds and privatization. The hours are being cut from the previous, already slim, 9am-6pm hours to the current 12pm-5pm hours. This is part of the story of how university administrators are failing the educational mission of the UC, part of the corporatizing and privatizing movement. The UC regents recently raised selected salaries by 21%, yet we are still experiencing the cutting of extremely valuable resources for our education. Bring Your Own Tent, sleeping bags, and pillows for Occupy Cal’s first encampment of the Spring 2012 semester. Let’s keep the library open as a shared public space!

Join Occupy Cal in a Study-in and Encampment to protest these cuts!

January 19th, 2012
230 Kroeber Hall
Study-in: 3pm-5pm
Encampment: 5pm - ?
This action is in solidarity with the Regents' meeting protest at UC Riverside.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Reclamations Journal has launched a new blog

In the fall of 2009, a few graduate students at UC Berkeley who were active in campus anti-privatization politics founded Reclamations Journal, which was conceived as a forum for debates and analysis emerging out of struggles to reclaim the educational commons in California. Since then, the editorial collective has expanded and has published three issues. In the fall of 2011, the editors decided to move away from full-length online issues, publishing their first political pamphlet (concerning student debt). Now, in order to have a more temporally immediate relation to ongoing campus struggles, the collective has shifted most of its activity to a new blog, which was just launched today.

The blog features two new posts, the first an interview with Ricardo Dominguez entitled: "On Electronic Civil Disobedience." Here's an excerpt:

Zach Blas: On March 4, 2010, during the mass student protests sweeping across many University of California campuses and the US, the b.a.n.g. lab led a virtual sit-in in solidarity with these protests against the University of California Office of the President. Could you describe what this action entailed and its legal ramifications? Why, considering that you have led previous virtual sit-ins against various institutions within the UC system, did this particular one instigate an FBI investigation of yourself, the b.a.n.g. lab, and the threatening your tenure?

Ricardo Dominguez: Well, the Transborder Immigrant Tool was already under investigation starting on January 11, 2010 by UCSD (the entire group of artists working on it were under investigation); then, I came under investigation for the the Virtual Sit-In performance against the UC Office of the President (UCOP) on March 4th, 2010 (which, as you pointed out, joined the communities state wide against students’ fees in the UC system and the dismantling of educational support for K – 12 across California). That was then followed by an investigation by the FBI office of Cybercrimes. The FBI was seeking to frame the performance as a federal violation, a cybercrime, based on UCOP stating that they lost $5,600 U.S. because of the disturbance–it is important to know that the cost had to be over $5000.00 U.S. for it to be a crime. So UCOP tacked on $600.00.U.S. to push the performance into cybercrime territory. In the end, I think that the event of all the actions on the streets of California, the occupations and protests across all the UC’s by students and faculty, and the on-line actions by students and faculty created a space where they could not fail to notice its impact on multiple scales – and our work was already under investigation for TBT, the Mark Yudof resignation site that we hosted, plus the ECD gesture was just too much for the frail imaginary of UCOP.

The other new entry on the blog is the first installment of a compilation post, which brings together 50 or so essays written by public education organizers in California over the course of Fall 2011. The Reclamations editors have annotated all of essays -- reading through the annotations actually allows for a rich recollection of last fall's campus struggles, and indicates the degree to which these struggles were wrapped up in and enabled by the broader occupy movement that took shape over the last few months. Each day this week, another installment of the compilation post will be published.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Access for Whom? The Middle Class Access Plan (MCAP), Diversity, and Privatization

In December, UC Berkeley announced a "groundbreaking" financial aid program called the Middle Class Access Plan (MCAP), which Chancellor Birgeneau hailed in the press release as a means of "sustain[ing] and expand[ing] access across the socio-economic spectrum" in an era of incessant tuition hikes. The following analysis was written by Zach Williams and posted at the blog Good-In-Theory. A summary of all the data used in the writing of this post is available here.

Class Conflict and Racial Strife Across the UC and its Golden State

What could be wrong with increasing access? Even further, what could be wrong with increased access for the middle class, when it appears as if current policy has been pushing the middle class out of Berkeley?

But wait, who is the middle class? And how are we increasing access for them? And why are they being pushed out? And why does it matter -- that is, why is that the problem we’re throwing money at? Because there are plenty of problems at which to throw money ($10-12 million dollars worth of money, in fact). But Birgenau has chosen this one.

So what is the problem, exactly? A shrinking middle class population (likely chiefly white) at the UCs.

But why is that happening? Because the high tuition/high aid model has led to a split in the population of the UC, divided between low-income families (~36% earning under 50k/year at Berkeley) and high income families (~30% earning over 150k/year at Berkeley. Another 10% or so still fall under the Blue and Gold program, which caps out at 80k. The remaining band of 20-25% has been narrowing, and thus needs our help.

Why? Well, because apparently declining enrollment among ‘the middle class’ is inequitable.

Never mind that likely 80% of California children live in families earning under 80k/year, while over 40% of UC Berkeley students come from families earning over 100k/year.

You see, under-representation of the bottom 80% is normal -- it’s expected, even, along with over-representation of the top 10%. But decreasing enrollments for part of the top 20% of children in the state? That can’t be tolerated.

So we have to lure them back in. And don’t be fooled -- this is about nothing other than luring people back in. Sure, MCAP has a friendly face to the extent that it eases costs for already enrolled middle class students, but this program is not about a temporary spate of relief for enrolled ‘middle class’ students. MCAP is taking a long view of the strategic situation in which the UC finds itself. And that situation involves intense competition with the Ivy league and other top tier liberal arts colleges and research universities over elite students.

So who are the students UC can draw in? Well, they aren’t Asian students, who attend the UC at a rate much higher than any other group already. There may be a few other minority students -- ~2200 UC system wide who are accepted but elect to go elsewhere and have middling acceptance rates. But the bulk of those who UCB is now pursuing fall into 10k or so white students who are admitted, but do not accept, UC enrollment. These students are, proportionately, the least likely to both apply to the UC and to accept enrollment when admitted.

Where are they going? Comparable private colleges, of course. That’s why, nationally, the MCAP program is perceived as a first effort by elite public schools to compete with the Ivy league over the upper middle class -- and this gets precisely to the point. MCAP isn’t about Californians. It’s about Out of State (OOS) enrollments.

While UC Blue and Gold is restricted to California residents, MCAP is restricted to ‘domestic’ residents -- that is to say, residents of the United States. And what do non-Californian ‘domestic’ residents pay? Another 23k/year in tuition. That more than covers any pittances extended to California’s middle class.

What MCAP does is introduce further granularity into the price discrimination scheme run by the UC. UC Blue and Gold allowed for an attenuated rate of tuition for in-state students earning under 80k. But there’s no fidelity among out of state students, who don’t qualify for Blue and Gold, or other in-state inducements like Calgrants. So while a California family earning 80k/year may pay 0 tuition, receiving 12k in subsidy to the cost of attending the UC (priced at 32k total, 24k excepting the expected student contribution), an out of state family earning 80k has a 35k a year tuition bill, plus that 20k/year in cost of living expenses, with no relief in site.

But the UC doesn’t need 35k to break even. Berkeley, the most spendthrift of campuses, lays out 19k per student. That’s 12k in tuition dollars plus 7k in state funding. OOS tuition has to make up the 7k not covered by the state. The rest is pure profit. Every lump of OOS tuition delivers about 16k in profit.

By fixing cost of attendance at no more than 15% of income for the in-state portion of fees, the UC has committed to giving middle class families up to 12k in subsidies. For Californians, some of that would be covered by Cal Grants. For those who qualify for Blue and Gold, some of that would be covered by Pell Grants.

But for out of state students, it all comes from Berkeley’s institutional aid.

The MCAP program allows for previously unavailable granularity in pricing for OOS students. Now, instead of all OOS students being saddled with roughly 35k/year in tuition, they will pay anywhere from 23 to 35k/year in tuition (disregarding non need-based aid). This is to say that the chief function of MCAP is to further increase the ability of Berkeley to recruit relatively wealthy out of state students who are willing to pay a lot, or at the least take on a lot of debt, in order to attend the UC. OOS students, after all, accept admission to the UC at a lower rate than in-state students, so anything to pull in more of these cash cows is desirable.

The other side of this story is how this program speaks to the general structure of the UC’s funding model. MCAP clarifies how tuition, through Blue and Gold and MCAP combined, functions effectively like a tax rate. This is a tax rate expressly for the purpose of redistributing income -- all the recent tuition increases have consisted of a return-to-aid portion, which is to say a significant portion of all tuition increases has been devoted to mitigating the effect of those tuition increases for people with low income.

For families within California, this reflects how the failure of state policy has led to the UC replicating the functions of the state. Because the California public as a whole is not willing to pay taxes to support public education by popular mandate, the wealthy in California have been able to avoid subsidizing the accessibility of the UC.

Instead, the UC has taken advantage of high demand for its product and the loose climate in higher education funding (through Federal support and student loans) to transfer the burden of maintaining UC accessibility on to wealthy or debtor students who wish to attend the UC.

In this way, accessibility to a quality university system is now contingent upon the realized demand of the wealthy, and the indebted, for that university system. Quite simply, the UC’s public mission has been privatized. Private charity, in the form of OOS tuition and ever increasing in-state tuition for the relatively rich, maintains access for poor students.

In this way, the burden of maintaining the UC is being shifted to wealthy and/or debtor students by raising their ‘taxes’ with nearly yearly tuition hikes. The turn to increasing enrollment of OOS students, coupled with the middle class access plan, allows the granularity of this tax to extend across the most profitable segment of the UC’s population.

The failure of tax policy at the state level has led to taxation at the UC level. This shifts the tax burden in three ways. First, it shifts the burden from CA taxpayers to CA families with children, who are, on average, poorer than CA taxpayers (though the children who go to the UC are not). Second, it shifts the burden to out of state money. Third, it shifts the burden onto in-state and out-of-state student and family debt.

What this leaves behind is any focus on the demographics and issues of California as a whole. The UC remains disproportionately wealthy while Hispanic and Black students remain disproportionately absent.

The collapse in public support and the turn to privatized financing cannot be disentangled from the persistent and endemic racial disparities proper to the UC. Increasing state diversity and increasing UC privatization are not simply coincidental. Rather, the demographic shift in the college-aspiring population of California has accompanied a general increase in private responsibility for the cost of college.

The UC has been able to sustain this shift while still enrolling poor students by relying upon the contributions of out of state students and wealthy in-state students, as well as increasing the expectations of student and family contributions across the board for all students, regardless of income.

As state funding falls, this means that the UC’s continuing operation as an accessible university comes to depend more and more upon the private demand for an elite education of non-Californian students. Poor Californians are increasingly at the mercy of the largess of rich out-of-staters.

In this way the public mission of the university has come to depend upon the private wealth of the rich who choose to attend it, and as such the character of the UC, as a public university, depends upon its ability to cater to these students.

This is to say that the UC must cater to the desires of the rich (largely white) kids who keep it afloat rather than the poor (largely hispanic) ones who make up a growing portion of the state. And so national competitiveness with elite institutions trumps focus on the challenges faced by California’s youth. MCAP, rather than acting as a boon to California’s middle class, merely serves as another way of catering to the rest of the country’s elite students, by further incentivizing their attendance.

In this manner, the people and students of California are losing control over their University, as their University, and their ability to attend it, comes to depend more and more upon the choices of others.

Spring into Action -- Occupy Cal first week actions

Posters for March 1 & 5 actions in defense of public ed

Flier - March Action for Educationmarch1-2012-v4

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Teach the UC and CA Budget, Winter 2012 Edition

Check out the Teach the Budget Blog for more information, flyers, and an action kit.

Teach_the_Budget_Winter 2012 has arrived!

Use it to teach your students, your friends–or yourself–about the budget crisis at the UC, and how it connects to state and national political and economic issues.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Open Letter from Organizers with the Nor-Cal Occupy Education Coalition to Organizers in Southern California

This letter contains an apology and an invitation to further discussion. Since convening a cross-sectoral planning meeting in Berkeley on December 10, we've received a fair amount of feedback, much of it negative, from organizers in southern California about how this meeting took shape. There is a sense shared by many that this meeting was rushed, that we failed to meaningfully consult organizers outside our region, and that we sometimes engaged in a slippage between “Northern” and “Statewide” that's been all too common in the last few years of public education protest. By deciding on a day of action without consulting people from other regions, we've acted in some ways undemocratically, imposing on others a protest schedule that may not work as well for them as it hopefully will for us.

We're sorry to have moved forward without adequately working with those who have an equal stake in this movement, and we're committed to doing what we can to make this movement truly statewide and democratic.

In order to begin addressing these problems, and to work together in a more meaningful and horizontal way, we think it makes sense to first hold a conference call in the next couple of weeks, where organizers from southern California who are interested in this conversation can convey directly to us how they'd like organizing and coordination, statewide or otherwise, to happen in the coming months.

If you are interested in joining this call, please fill out the poll at the following location

Following this call, hopefully we will all have a better sense of possible next steps, whether this might include forming a more representative coordinating committee, building for a cross-sectoral planning meeting in southern California, and/or considering upcoming meetings in Riverside and Santa Barbara as places where the near future of organizing in So-Cal and statewide will begin to be determined. Through this, ideally we'll be able to find ways to collaborate over the coming months, even if our schedules of protest end up being not wholly identical.

We know that organizing in a way that respects all who have a stake in the defense of public education is the only way we'll be successful, and are committed to acting according to this principle.

In Solidarity,

Amanda Armstrong
Alex Barnard
Alan Benjamin
Eric Blanc
Luz Calvo
Natalia Chousou-Polydouri
Elizabeth De Martelly
Meleiza Figueroa
Juan Garcia
Courtney Hanson
Maggie Hardy
Nate Heller
Shannon Ikebe
Keli Iwamoto
Deborah Jacobs-Levine
Stan Klein
Alex Kluber
Olivia Lichterman
Blanca Missé
Betty Olson-Jones
Millie Phillips
Mustafa Popal
Jody Sokolower