Thursday, November 20, 2014

A Communiqué from the UCSC Occupation of Humanities 2

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

11 comments:

  1. powerful critique.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thank you for the work you are doing. We stand with you.

    ReplyDelete
  3. "Wave of Democracy"? Does the project of "Democracy" work for those you are purportedly representing?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Who said anything about "the project of Democracy"?

      Delete
  4. Part 1

    Originally Posted to Struggle for Unified Theory
    http://struggleforunifiedtheory.wordpress.com/2014/11/21/an-open-letter-to-the-ucsc-occupation-of-humanities-2/

    An Open Letter To the UCSC Occupation of Humanities 2,

    It is good that you wrote the Communiqué dated November 20th 2014 explaining your reasons for occupying the Humanities 2 building. Your grievances are certainly justified, but the communiqué fails to clearly state the big picture to show that the tuition hikes are not only an attack on students, or students of oppressed identities, but it is an attack against the entire working class. Drawing in the rest of the class to fight for their interests, in common with yours--is the only way that you can make this struggle grow and escalate. The ruling class, the bourgeoisie, is pricing the working class out of higher learning which will help them to better understand the society that we all live in, and have greater control over their lives and destiny. The working class needs knowledge and confidence. Their prejudices in bourgeois society must be broken.

    Knowledge isn't power, but it is needed to develop the understanding and strategy needed to take power. The working class needs to take power in order to end capitalism and the present education system that favors the ruling class. It must understand this is in their interests.

    Also it's good that the Occupation of the Humanities 2 building understands that this can be nothing more than a temporary occupation. I believe this is realistic. Without mass support, isolated from the rest of the class, defeat is inevitable. If the occupation is complete folly, it will be demoralizing and will harm the confidence of worker and students who support it. We must ask ourselves then, what is the purpose of the occupation? What can we hope to accomplish? The occupation will certainly draw attention, as it has drawn my attention, but unless you can quickly find a method of ending your isolation from the greater working class your workplace occupation will end in a quick defeat. How do we build that enthusiasm and support?

    First we must understand what it is that you are occupying:

    A school is a factory, it is the workplace of the teachers and maintenance workers, not the students—Those attacked by the tuition hikes are simply both customers and products for capitalists. The school trains good white collar workers as a product—an intellectual worker.

    Unless you can find a way to bridge this gap between the workers and the working class students, the bourgeois news will drive a wedge between you naïve, childlike, unworldly, ungrateful, bratty, snobby students, and the only class that could champion your struggle. If you don't go to the workers for support—the bourgeoisie will.

    If you wish to put up a fight, you must immediately engage the teachers and maintenance/custodial workers, championing their wages, rights and working conditions! You must allow the production to continue on YOUR terms to shatter the illusions in the present education system that favors rich students over poor students.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Part 2:
    http://struggleforunifiedtheory.wordpress.com/2014/11/21/an-open-letter-to-the-ucsc-occupation-of-humanities-2/

    One way to do this will be to set up a democratic council of the workers and students--pushing for an agreement to submit a flat grade of outstanding performance (A's/4.0 grades) to students regardless of their aptitude to undermine the grade point system. This may help to win you the support of more students with an immediate victory that they will see on their transcript.

    Why give a flat grade? A rich student has no need to work while studying, they do not need to worry about loans and books and supplies. They do not worry about needing a good computer, food. They can afford the best tutoring and support. The working class students begin their education at an extreme disadvantage—the grades were never fair to begin with—throw them out!

    Envoys must be sent to workers outside of the university, making their struggles your own. Build relationships with the workers and offer them free classes and teach-ins that will practically benefit them. Ask them to lead teach-ins themselves. Ask them what you can do to help them in their struggles.

    Bringing in the rest of the working class will be the only way to make this struggle grow and last longer--it is the only way to build what you want! We shouldn't rely on a strategy of disobediently waiting for a "wave of democracy!" We must work to build an independent movement of the working class NOW.


    For the Class Rule of the Proletariat,
    Art Francisco

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think people here are aware of the need for class politics, but I think your image of the university as a factory for white-collar workers is misguided. This is not 1964. The U of C is a mass institution. Many of us will never work in offices. We'll be lucky to have a wage at all.

      Furthermore, your characterization here doesn't get at the fundamental ways in which extraction and accumulation occur with regard to students and universities. Very profitable credit products sold to both make them central sites of accumulation. The picture is rather complicated, and it would serve you well to think in a complicated way about how class is articulated in such circumstances.

      As far as connections to teachers: they are here. Teaching assistants have been an important contingent organizing this, and full-time and precarious faculty have been coming in and out throughout the past 2 days, offering material and moral support.

      Finally, I hope your characterization of us "naïve, childlike, unworldly, ungrateful, bratty, snobby students" is meant ironically. For if not, it seems that the wedge you speak of has already been driven.

      Delete
  6. Hi Anonymous,

    I am glad that you replied. I do not think that the image of the university as a factory is misguided.

    Regardless of whether or not there will be a use for your labor, the intellectual laborer is in my opinion the final product. Those who become say a truck driver, just become part of the reserve army of intellectuals.

    A worker in our society primarily depends on selling that labor power for money and commodities. Workers (with access) use higher education to attempt to leverage that labor power with either easier work or higher wages (they also get into it to learn a little more about the world, become more cultured etc.). The Educated worker also benefits the capitalist, who purchases labor power on the market--sometimes they need more skilled workers.

    Ofcourse there are very profitable credit products sold to students, but credit products are not sold to just students. The main loans are generally external to the university (banks), and various internal fees/university administered schemes serve like a company shop to capture a fixed audience.

    While it is true that the picture is complicated, I believe that what is most important is to cut through that complication with clear understanding. We can muddle the picture all we want by thinking "in a complicated way," but this only serves to add to ambiguity and confusion.

    While it is good that teachers are involved, it is still important to reach out __past__ the university. Teachers may or may not be able to help with this. That was actually the main point of my letter.

    "Finally, I hope your characterization of us "naïve, childlike, unworldly, ungrateful, bratty, snobby students" is meant ironically."

    That is simply how the bourgeois media will paint your movement to the masses in their attempt to isolate your protest. This is the standard practice to student protests. The bourgeoisie will use the popular prejudice of the youth and students against them. Its up to you to break through those prejudices, and the only way that you can do so is to make contact with workers in your communities and build relationships with them.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Please join the fight for community-based educational opportunities for California's most vulnerable and marginalized population. We are in this together. You can find us on FB (Alliance for California Adult Schools), check out our website: www.a4cas.org, watch this video to see how many of our schools have been shut down: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iQK2_Qow_h8, get more info here: http://www.catesolnews.org/2014/09/adult-education-need-dedicated-funding/
    Governor Brown has spoken out against the UC tuition hike. Meanwhile, he is planning to dismantle an educational system that serves the poorest of the poor and provides a way out of the cycle of poverty. We've been fighting this fight for many years: http://articles.latimes.com/2013/mar/16/local/la-me-adult-ed-20130317
    If you have technology in the Humanities Bldg., we could sure use your help! Please contact Governor Brown and request "dedicated funding for K-12 Adult Education" and to have it "sent to school districts, not the California Community College Chancellor's Office (CCCCO)."
    More info here: http://adulteducationmatters.blogspot.com/2014/07/from-ccae-myths-facts-about-15-16.html
    Please LIKE our FB page and share with your friends and family to spread the word. Click this link to send Governor Jerry Brown an email:(https://govnews.ca.gov/gov39mail/mail.php) or call and leave him a message at 916-445-2841. Take 30 seconds to make a difference in the future of K12 Adult Schools! Thank you for your support. We support your movement, as well!
    - Karen (Kresge '92)

    ReplyDelete
  8. Well done! We are currently occupying in a tarp fort under a tree in front of Wheeler Hall at UC Berkeley.

    ReplyDelete