Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Occupy California, Refund Higher Education, and the Question of Violence (Plus Schedule of Events)

On November 15th, faculty and students at UC Berkeley will hold a one-day strike and will attempt to re-establish an Occupy Cal encampment. This action is supported by thousands of students and faculty members throughout the UC system and around the world. One of the reasons for this demonstration is to protest the excessive use of police force that has been used against students and faculty members. People will also be protesting the last-minute cancellation of the UC Regents meeting.

While students, employees, and faculty members have asked educational leaders to sign a pledge to join us in our call to re-fund higher education in California by making the banks and wealthiest 1% pay, the regents have responded by hiding from the public. So the new plan is to track down the higher ed leaders on November 16th when Southern California protesters will converge at the CSU trustees meeting in Long Beach, and Northern California protesters will rally and march in the San Francisco financial district, starting at noon at Justin Herman Plaza. We will once again demand that the UC Regents and CSU trustees sign our pledge, and we will invite them to then join us as we continue the march to the state building in San Francisco. Once there, we will demand that government officials also support our pledge, and we will have a people’s regents meeting.

Setting the Stage
When the UC announced that it had canceled the Regents meeting, it stated that, “they had received information indicating that rogue elements intent on violence and confrontation with UC public safety officers were planning to attach themselves to peaceful demonstrations expected to occur at the meeting.” While the UC did not reveal the sources for these threats, it is important to ask, how does the university define violence?

According to a UC police officer, the university is using the following definition of violence, “"the individuals who linked arms and actively resisted, that in itself is an act of violence...I understand that many students may not think that, but linking arms in a human chain when ordered to step aside is not a nonviolent protest." Someone needs to call Gandhi and Martin Luther King to tell them that the whole history of non-violent resistance has been rewritten.

It is of course outrageous for any public university to declare that students and workers can be beaten with batons if they engage in the dangerous act of linking arms, and it is especially absurd for this claim to be made at UC Berkeley, which stands for the birth of the Free Speech movement. If people are no longer able to protest nonviolently, then they may be forced to use other means. (I am not endorsing here the use of violence; rather, I am arguing that the police have to allow for nonviolent resistance)

By shutting down the Regents meeting, the university has also sent the message that the university is not only being privatized on a financial basis, but it is also being privatized on a bureaucratic basis. The regents are now telling the people of California that public matters have to be discussed in private, and the public is no longer invited to witness the dismantling of the “world’s greatest public university.”

Following the day of activities on the 16th, attention will turn to the one-day strikes at CSU East Bay and CSU Dominguez Hills. Ultimately, what is at stake is the future of public higher education in California and around the world. As the refund higher education movement couples with the Occupy Wall Street movement, a new level of organization and energy will emerge.


SCHEDULE FOR NOV 16 STATE-WIDE DAY OF ACTION TO REFUND PUBLIC EDUCTION

10 – 10:30am: free busses leave from Telegraph and Bancroft on Berkeley
11:30am – Noon: gather for a free lunch.
Noon rally at Justin Herman Plaza in collaboration with Occupy SF, 3
blocks from the Embarcadero BART station
1:00pm: March through the Financial District to make the banks pay for
the financial crisis they created
4:00pm: People's Assembly for Public Education at the State Building
to call on Gov Brown to make the banks pay public education, 455
Golden Gate Ave San Fransisco
3:00pm early bus returns to UC Berkeley
6:00pm remaining buses return to UC Berkeley

SCHEDULE FOR NOV15 OPEN UNIVERSITY & STRIKE AT UC BERKELEY
8am-5pm: All day Open University activities (teach-outs, workshops,
public readings, installations, etc.) at Sproul Plaza and surrounding
areas.
Noon: Mass convergence at Sproul Hall and formal inauguration of
day-long Open University.
Noon – 2pm: Teach-outs in Sproul Plaza.
2pm: Rally against police violence and other, related forms of
violence, including dispossession, privatization, and debt.
2:30pm: March to Berkeley High and Berkeley City College.
5pm: General Assembly at Sproul Plaza.

15 comments:

  1. And yet the Regents backed AB 131, giving Illegal Aliens $40 Million of Legal Students’ State aid and further impacting education budget. This will only become larger every year. Say goodbye to YOUR higher education. Sorry if the truth hurts. :(

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  2. Hello,

    Higher education is a very expensive endeavour. In an environment of increasing competitiveness, however, many are finding that higher education is a must that can't be skipped because of financial issues. Thanks a lot for sharing with us.

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  3. Unfortunately, it's not about being competitive when most free State aid is based on need and requires only a 2.0-2.6 minimum GPA.

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