Statement of Support for the University of Puerto Rico Strikers

24 05 2010

***Please click HERE to sign an online petition in support of the UPR strikers (it only takes a second)***

As workers, students, and faculty of the University of California, San Diego, we hereby declare our solidarity with the workers, students, and faculty of the University of Puerto Rico. With this letter, we also declare our full support for their now 29 day-long strike.

By cutting more than 100 million dollars from its budget, by raising tuition while eliminating “tuition exemptions” for low-income students, by relying on non-tenured lecturers to do most of the instruction while paying them meager salaries, and by allowing class sizes to swell as the faculty to student ratio shrinks, Puerto Rico’s government and the UPR administration are making it harder for all Puerto Ricans to access a good and affordable university education.

Our experience here in the United States has taught us that measures like the ones that are being implemented in Puerto Rico typically result in the gradual destruction of public universities as institutions that are meant to serve the public. We have witnessed what happens to public universities when state governments strangle them economically forcing tuition costs to rise far above inflation rates. For example, in our very own University of California, student fees have gone up 300% over the last decade alone. A century ago, when our university system was created, students did not have to pay a cent to be educated. Our institution remained tuition free until the 1970s. Ever since then, our politicians and university administrators have continued to raise the cost of public higher education in California bit by bit.

Today, a public education in the United States is far less accessible to middle and working class Americans than it was five decades ago. Many of those who are able to pay for a public education do so only because the have put themselves deep into Student-loan debt, which as Prof. Jefferey J. Williams put it, has become our society’s contemporary form of “indentured servitude.” We are afraid that the same will happen to Puerto Rico’s public university and its students if the administrations of Gov. Fortuño and University President De la Torre have their way. Furthermore, just as in California where the first to be denied access to higher education are those who come from marginalized communities of color, the current crisis in Puerto Rico will further impede upward mobility for immigrants and Afro-Puerto Ricans who have historically been the most disenfranchised members of the island’s civil society.

Gov. Fortuño was wrong when he recently claimed that public higher education in Puerto Rico is a “privilege” and not a “right.” He appears to be unaware of the fact that according to Article 26 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights “technical and professional education shall be made generally available and higher education shall be equally accessible to all on the basis of merit.” Our elected leaders and administrators in California and in Puerto Rico are seemingly ignorant of the fact that public universities are integral to the functioning, development, and wellbeing of a democratic society and as such, must never be viewed as a drain on the public coffers. The less educated a citizenry is, the less empowered its people will be. Broad access to a university education ensures better training for a community’s work force and a larger presence of professionals, among whom are those who will be responsible for the physical and mental health of our communities, as well as those who will educate future generations.

Unfortunately, government disinvestment in public higher education is not a problem particular to Puerto Rico and California alone. It has become a global phenomenon and as such, it will only be stopped with global action and solidarity. As California’s public university workers, students, and faculty, made it clear on this year’s International Day of Action to Defend Public Education on March 4, we will not stand idly as our governments disinvest in our public universities. Inspired by the brave, principled actions of the UPR community, we will continue to oppose all educational policies that threaten broad accessibility to higher education. We will do so because we know that without it, the wealth and health gaps in this state, in this country, as well as in the US’ island colony of Puerto Rico will widen instead of closing.

We commend the workers, students, and faculty of the University of Puerto Rico for successfully inspiring and mobilizing so many people. What they have accomplished over the past month has empowered and educated not just people in Puerto Rico but communities across the world.

Finally, as member s of the global university community, we demand that Puerto Rico’s governor and the UPR administration abandon their tactics of intimidation by force and instead negotiate in good faith with the student strikers to arrange a just and reasonable end to the present standoff.

In Solidarity,

  1. Coalition for Educational Justice, University of California, San Diego
  2. Faculty Coalition, University of California, San Diego
  3. United Auto Workers Local 2865, University of California, San Diego

***Again, Please click HERE to sign an online petition in support of the UPR strikers (it only takes a second)***

For more information on the UPR strike, click HERE and HERE .

Also, this story was featured on this week’s Democracy Now. You can view, listen, or download that DN! podcast HERE.





Book Release: Another University Is Possible (by UCSD’s Another University Is Possible Editorial Collective)

24 05 2010

Click HERE to order directly from University Readers.

Between February 15 and March 4, 2010, students, staff, and faculty at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD) mobilized against a well publicized sequence of racist acts on campus and the on-going privatization of higher education. Building occupations and mass rallies, media campaigns and strategic debates were all part of the ebb and flow of a movement that faced three opponents: an inept administration; a student body riddled with ignorance and racism; and decades of active hostility directed by California voters against communities of color and the idea of equality in the Golden State.

As a snapshot of a movement and a moment, this collection deliberately avoids the presentation of a straightforward, linear narrative. Instead, the speeches, poems, statements, blog commentary and photographs within are meant to capture the contours and dynamism of this struggle during these few short weeks.

Another University is Possible was compiled with the hopes that it plays a small part in much broader efforts to:

  • Document the growing movement for racial and social justice at UCSD.
  • Compliment, help sustain, and regenerate the racial justice movement at UCSD.
  • Serve as a research, teaching, and organizing resource for use by students, staff, and faculty at UCSD and beyond engaged in the study of race, the university, and collaborative social change.

The editors of this book see recent events at UCSD as an opportune moment to begin thinking about how newly articulated racisms in a time of declared “colorblindness” combine exclusion, insult, and violence against communities of color, at the same time giving rise to new forms of alliance, solidarity, and transformative movements. It is in this spirit of continued struggle that this book is offered as a piece of the on-going racial justice movement, a conversation starter for future movements, and one reminder that UCSD can be a more equitable and racially just place of higher learning.

Paperback, 194 pages
ISBN: 978-1609279-47-9; ©2010
Price: $17.95

Click HERE to order directly from University Readers.





Protest in Support of Prof. Ricardo Dominguez and the Principle of Academic Freedom

6 04 2010

URGENT!! SPREAD THE WORD!!!

Ricardo Dominguez (Associate Professor, Visual Arts Department) is currently being investigated by the University of California for the “Virtual Sit-In on University of California Office of the President” project he developed in conjunction with the recent March 4th student protests on campus.

In response to this act of Electronic Civil Disobedience, University officials have initiated the process of revoking Prof. Dominguez’ tenure and bringing criminal charges against him. Indeed, Prof. Dominguez has already been subject to questioning by UCSD detectives.

Furthermore, it is evident that the assault on Prof. Dominguez’ academic freedom is in part being instigated by local political forces who have chosen to take issue with his larger research on the significance of technology with respect to the safety of transborder immigrants.

As concerned faculty and students at UCSD, we contend that these actions not only undercut Prof. Dominguez’ physical safety but also threaten the academic freedom and tenure of all faculty, especially those who have been working to address and improve the toxic climate at UCSD.

Moreover, given the statements made in support of racial justice by President Yudof and the Board of Regents at last week’s meeting, we are deeply troubled by the institutional attack being waged against an internationally known and respected Latino faculty member, while groups like the Koala that deploy ignorant and hateful rhetoric against our communities continue to be tacitly protected by the institution.

We recognize the attack on Prof. Dominguez as an alarming instance not only of the policing of academic thought but also of the disciplining of dissent.

As part of the institutional investigation, Prof. Dominguez will be meeting with University officials on Thursday, April 8th at 10 AM in the Visual Arts Administrative Office.

In order to show our support for Prof. Dominguez and the principles of academic freedom, we call on the UCSD community to participate in a SILENT MARCH and A READING OF LETTERS OF PROTEST outside the office for the duration of the meeting.

Agenda:

9.45 AM: Gather at the Silent Tree on Library Walk

10.00 AM: March to Mandeville Center (Visual Arts Administrative Office, for a map to the Mandeville building, click HERE) – SILENT MARCH and READING OF LETTERS OF SUPPORT PROTEST for the duration of the meeting. (Please note: we ask that participants NOT disrupt the meeting through any form of loud noise or physical acts.) Prof. Dominguez and bang.lab researchers have requested that people once they have gathered in front of the Visual Arts Administrative Office to READ from the Letters of Support they have received. (These letters of support will be handed out at the start of the gathering).
WEAR BLACK!!

URGENT!! SPREAD THE WORD!!!

More background information about what this is all about, click HERE.

For today’s Union-Tribune article about the UC’s offensive against Prof. Dominguez, click HERE.

Also, check out the letter that the faculty coalition just sent to Vice Chancellor Drake (see below):





UCR Women’s Studies Department Sttement on Racism, Homophobia, and Freedom of Speech

24 03 2010

The Women’s Studies Department at the University of California, Riverside strongly condemns acts of homophobia, hate, racism, sexism, and anti-Semitism that have occurred on the UCSD, UCR, UCD, UCI, and other UC campuses. We stand in solidarity with those assaulted or denied freedom of speech, or otherwise silenced by the vicious attacks.

On February 10, 2010, two UCR students were brutally attacked. They were targeted because of their sexual orientation – for daring to hold hands in public.  In early March, racist graffiti was found on a poster at UCR: “a devout Democrat” called for “No More Asians and Mexicans” in California.  This horrific act of homophobic violence and cowardly example of racist xenophobia occurred within a wider context of deleterious hostility. A few weeks prior, the UCSD, and the entire UC-system, had to account for several despicable episodes of anti-black racism.  In late February and early March, severely queer-phobic graffiti defaced the LGBT Resource center at UC Davis and a swastika was carved on a Jewish student’s door.

Concurrently, UC administrators are advocating the punishment of student demonstrators, dubbed the “Irvine-11,” who exercised their right of free speech at a talk at UCI in early February. Instead of following the example of the President of the United States, who, when heckled by demonstrators during a speech at Notre Dame University, defended their freedom of speech, the UCI  administration is suppressing freedom of speech, threatening the student protestors – a few of whom are UCR students — with serious charges and expulsion. This denial of rights contributes to an atmosphere that permits hate crimes, rather than setting an example of universities as defenders of human and civil rights.

As scholars and teachers who are committed to antiviolence, and to intersectional analysis, we do not see these events as separate—they are powerfully connected in what they tell us about dominance and marginalization. They ask us to consider the daily experiences of exclusion experienced by queer students, students of African and Palestinian descent, and other minoritized bodies in the UC system.

We believe that these acts are also linked to the dismantling of California’s great public education system.  As the gates close rapidly on communities of color and low income peoples, the ugly face of structural exclusion reveals itself. These events are not accidental outbursts—they reveal an institutional and cultural climate that creates a deep sense of marginalization for those “different” from a dominant norm. However, now in the current climate of increased economic stress and scarce resources, there is a sense that such enactments of dominance and cruelty can take place with impunity. We demand accountability—not only for the individual perpetrators of these incidents, but to the entire cultural system of the UC which is allowing this to happen. We seek redress and action that is beyond rhetoric.

We affirm our compassion for, and outrage on behalf of all members of the UC community who have been wounded by these attacks. We stand with members of our UCR community who have been traumatized, targeted, and silenced. We publicly offer our support to the particular students who are recovering from the attack. We reach out to the entire LGBTQ community here at UCR and in the wider UC community and underscore our continuing commitment as allies. We do so with the hope that we can together address the daily issues of inequity and structural injustice that permit these expressions of hostility and enforced normativity to happen. We seek a process of healing which places questions of institutional accountability and social justice at its very core. We ask that the UC administration, including our UCR administration,  do all that is possible to restore the rights of those who face denial of them, and to work collectively with students, faculty, and staff to ensure a climate of peace, not simply tolerance and civility.

Alicia Arrizón
Professor and Chair

Amalia L. Cabezas
Associate Professor

Piya Chatterjee
Associate Professor

Tracy Fisher
Assistant Professor

Christine Ward Gailey
Professor (Women’s Studies and Anthropology)

Sherine Hafez
Assistant Professor

Tamara Ho
Assistant Professor

Chikako Takeshita
Assistant Professor of Women’s Studies

Caroline Tushabe
Assistant Professor

Jane Ward
Associate Professor

Marguerite R. Waller
Professor (Women’s Studies and Comparative Literature)

Affiliated Faculty:

Wendy Ashmore
Professor of Anthropology

Thomas Patterson
Professor and Chair of Women’s Studies

Devra Weber
Associate Professor, Department of History

Alicia Arrizón
Professor and Chair
Department of Women’s Studies
INTN (Interdisciplinary Bldg-North)
University of California, Riverside
Riverside, CA 92521
Phone (951) 827-4359
Fax: (951) 827-6386





Who Runs the University of California?

16 03 2010

Mr. DiFi Cashes in on Crisis

by: Will Parish & Darwin Bond-Graham, Counterpunch, 3.1.2010

This past July, following the California State Legislature’s decision to strip $813 million from the University of California’s Fiscal Year 2009-10 budget, the UC’s 26-member Board of Regents voted to declare “a state of financial emergency.” Such a “state of emergency,” the university’s official by-laws state, should accompany an “imminent and substantial deficiency in available university financial resources.”

The Regents also voted to grant special “emergency powers” to UC President Mark G. Yudof. Yudof promptly marshaled his new and vaguely defined authority to lay off hundreds of workers, impose pay cuts and furloughs on remaining university staff, and propose a 32 percent increase in student fees which the Regents approved in November.

At the same meeting, Regents Chairman Russell Gould announced the formation of a new UC Commission on the Future. Its de facto function has been to further the privatization of the university. Notably, Gould is one of California’s most prominent financiers, a man who served as vice chairman of Wachovia Bank during its growth as one of the leading subprime mortgage lenders in the United States. He and Yudof serve as the commission’s co-chairmen. In Gould’s words, the commission’s task is “nothing short of re-imagining” the University of California.

The State of California’s political elites and business leaders routinely use the language of crisis now whenever discussing the UC. In the past few decades, state funding of the university has suffered steady erosion. The UC now receives more funding than ever from private corporations and the federal government (the latter being in most instances pretty much the same as the former). Its various revenue streams range from student fees to several billion dollars in medical hospital revenue to private grants and donations, to its own hedge fund-like investments portfolio, to atomic bomb dollars from the Department of Energy.

Thus, despite the state budget cuts, the UC’s overall revenue reached an all-time high of $19.42 billion in the 2009-10 academic year, and the Regents’ claim that the UC faces an “imminent and substantial” funding deficit is inaccurate, to say the least. According to both the university’s own financial documents and Moody’s bond rating agency, the university had access to over $8.3 billion in unrestricted investment funds it was holding in reserve at the time.

The university has undergone a neo-liberal-style “structural adjustment” at the behest of the UC Regents, and this transformation has been accelerated during Yudof’s tenure as president. Under the leadership of California’s economic elite, the UC has become the leading prototype for a “disaster capitalist university.”

Click HERE for the rest of the article.





The University is an Apparatus (revised edition)

12 03 2010

If you would like to educate yourself more about why our struggle is important and why you should care to do something about it, check out the following pamphlet:





How Not to Complain About March 4

8 03 2010

REPOSTED FROM Studentactivism.net

The growth of the student protest movement has sparked a series of debates about strategy and tactics, and those debates have gotten more intense in the wake of the March 4 Day of Action. Activists and their critics have legitimate disagreements about methods and goals, and those disagreements are now being aired in public with growing frequency.

I’m going to be talking a bit about those disagreements soon, but first I want to clear away some of the strawmen that have popped up recently. If there’s going to be a debate, and there should be, let it be in good faith.

I read an essay this morning that suffers from all of the weaknesses that I’ve got in mind. In an opinion piece in the online journal Politics Daily, Muskingum College senior Joshua Chaney argues that March 4 represented a missed opportunity because “participants’ messages were mixed, their disruptions turned away other students and members of the public, and their voices often fell on the wrong ears.” That’s a legitimate argument, but unfortunately Chaney gets the specifics of it completely wrong.

Here are four things to bear in mind when writing, talking, or thinking about contemporary student protest:

Click HERE to read the rest of the post.