Staff, students to walkout at 10 University of California Campuses

Staff, students to walkout at 10 University of California Campuses

In an effort to protest education cuts, students and staff at ten University of California campuses will stage a walkout on 24 September 2009.

University of California administrators say they want to keep things running as smoothly as possible Thursday -- the first day of school at many campuses -- when many faculty, staff members and students are expected to walk out of classes, host rallies and stage a systemwide labor strike for technical employees.

UC is facing one of the worst years in its history as it tries to close a budget gap of more than $750 million in lost revenue from the state and increased expenses. To balance the budget, administrators have ordered unpaid furloughs for nonunion employees, staff layoffs and course cutbacks, and are expected to raise tuition for next year, making it 45 percent higher than last year's student fees.

Those actions have infuriated employees and students.

"There is a lot of anger and frustration, and people need to vent that," said Dan Mogulof, a spokesman for UC Berkeley, where classes have been in session for a month. "The main concern is that the faculty are expected to meet their obligations to students -- giving them notice about course cancellations and changes, and making sure that the course material is covered."

It's a sentiment echoed by administrators across the 10-campus system. The last thing they want Thursday are empty classrooms -- or rooms filled with students with no one at the podium to teach them. But it's a possibility on many campuses.

Since late August, some UC faculty members have been urging all instructors to walk off the job Sept. 24 to protest the university's handling of its crisis and a policy that furlough days not be taken on days they teach. More than 1,000 professors and associate professors across all campuses have signed a petition urging the walkout.
Other faculty members at UC Berkeley have taken a different approach, forming a group called Save the University. They support their colleagues who plan to walk out, but will hold educational forums on UC's financial troubles from the perspective that there are better ways to bolster the university.

Even so, many of the same faculty members may cancel classes or hold them off campus to avoid crossing a picket line by the University Professional and Technical Employees union, which plans a one-day strike because it has been working without a contract for 18 months.

Meanwhile, some student groups have issued statements in support of their instructors.

Amid all of this, campus administrators say they are hoping for business as usual.

"I think that most of our classes will go off without a hitch," said Patricia Turner, vice provost for undergraduate studies at UC Davis, which starts school Thursday.

"We completely support freedom of speech," she added.

It's a message the campuses are sending to the protesters -- even as they urge students and faculty to go to class.

"I understand that on some campuses, including ours, labor actions could impact the opening of classes this Thursday," UC Santa Cruz Provost David Kliger said in a message to all employees sent Monday. "I hope that those who participate in this action try to minimize disruption to our students -- the people we are here to serve."

Some faculty members want a different message.

"I'd like them to talk to the students who are going to have to drop out because they can't meet the (expected) tuition increases," said Shannon Steen, a UC Berkeley associate professor of theater. "These are the students who are going to be hurt the most."

The resolution of the University of California Students Association supporting the action can be found here: http://www.ucsa.org/board/resolutions/UC%20Walk%20Out%20Resolution%20Final.pdf

An interview with one of the professors who will be taking part in the walkout can be found here: http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=113114099

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Chilli Sauce
Sep 24 2009 11:02

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Chilli Sauce
Sep 24 2009 11:09
Steven.
Sep 24 2009 19:18

Cheers for the update!

Hieronymous
Sep 27 2009 10:04

Critique of liberal self-appointed leaders at UC Berkeley (from indybay.org):

Quote:
by UC Berkeley Occupation Committee

Last night, a concerted effort by self-appointed "student leaders," mostly from CalServe, successfully prevented a student occupation of Wheeler Hall.

An occupation committee had prepared the logistics for the occupation of Wheeler Hall, and planned to bring a proposal to the so-called "general assembly" planned for 6pm. But moderators representing the official student leadership stepped in to impose a formal procedural structure that would prevent any and all political action following on the heels of the successful walkout.

Bullying from the moderator led to a vote in favor of breakout discussion groups, which divided and weakened the energy that had been brought to the room. The occupation committee managed to move the general assembly to Wheeler Auditorium, but the "leaders" insisted rigidly on a reportback from every single breakout group, hearing every single proposal for letter-writing campaigns, for contacting our elected representatives, etc. When members of breakout groups suggested an occupation, this was placed as a proposal among many to be subjected to an eventual, meaningless vote, long after the time for doing so had come and gone.

At one point, a student managed to convince these "leaders" to allow the reading of the occupation statement issued by students at UC Santa Cruz. The crowd was visibly moved, and roared in support of the UCSC students, before chanting "Occupy! Occupy!" for several minutes. As the occupation committee sought an immediate vote, the self-imposed leadership insisted that the reportback procedure continue for a full hour more (yes, there was a vote, but both options led to the same continuation of procedure). The energy and momentum of the room was not respected, this was not democracy: it was proceduralism in an effort to prevent any strategy or tactic that the leadership disagreed with.

Members of the occupation committee began to secure the building with locks and chains (while leaving doors open for those who wished to leave), while continuing efforts to bring the proposal before the crowd, whose energy was now waning as a result of a thousand reportbacks.

This was when the real ugliness began. Ricardo Gomez of CalServe took the stage and began barking at the crowd, ironically seizing the bully pulpit to denounce the occupation effort as "undemocratic." What was undemocratic was the proceduralism of the leadership which refused to respect the will of the people present. Gomez knew what he was doing: he was consciously destroying the radical energy of the people gathered there. Rather than calling a vote on occupation, he pushed the gullible to tears by insinuating that they had been taken hostage when this was not the case.

This was a disgusting and despicable case of the worst form of opportunism, the effects of which are only beginning to be felt.

Steven.
Oct 6 2009 22:39

Further information, and an interview with one of the occupiers from the social crisis e-mail list:

Quote:
The Occupy California <http://occupyca.wordpress.com/videos/> group peacefully ended their weeklong occupation <http://howtheuniversityworks.com/wordpress/archives/216> of a UCSC facility last Thursday, but announced that they left “in order to escalate” their confrontation with the state and campus authorities.

During the event, messages of solidarity poured in from Britain, South Africa and Croatia, from campus bus drivers and the SDS, from San Francisco State, from Irvine, from Brandeis, Columbia, and the City University of New York.

California’s statewide Defend our Education <http://occupyca.wordpress.com/2009/09/30/defend-our-education-assembly-votes-unanimously-to-endorse-ucsc-occupation/> coalition of K-12 educators, staff and faculty from the UC and Cal State system passed a formal unanimous resolution of support, as did numerous student groups across the U.S.

The largest solidarity demo <http://occupyca.wordpress.com/2009/09/26/solidarity-pics-from-union-square/> took place in lower Manhattan, home to TakeBackNYU <http://takebacknyu.com/> and the New School Reoccupied <http://reoccupied.wordpress.com/>, where arrests, expulsions, and other disciplinary actions in response to widely-reported building occupations last year have left simmering resentment. A day after news of the occupation hit indymedia news sources, protesters from both lower-Manhattan campuses marched through Union Square behind posters and bedsheets spraypainted with their own take on the UCSC manifesto: “From Santa Cruz to NYC, We Want Fucking Everything!”

Over the weekend, I completed an interview with a spokesperson for the group:

Q. How did you come to the decision to end the occupation?

We decided to end the occupation because we felt that it was the right time. Our interest in occupying the space was both to put radical actions such as occupation back on the map and to raise awareness. These are emergency times for California and for public education as a whole. We wanted to help generate a sense of urgency, the necessity to act, and solidarity extending far beyond the occupations. We feel we’ve achieved this and move on to plan new actions and create the kind of wide support needed to truly deal with this situation

Q. I was really impressed by the support you received from students all over the globe. What do you think you accomplished?

It’s hard to tell what we’ve accomplished at this point: it is too close. But judging from the truly global solidarity we’ve received, we’re hoping that our occupation is recognized for what it was: a call to mass struggle, an insistence on the severity of the situation, and an inspiration to all those who have become fed up with what resistance to the destruction of public education has looked like. We want to show that occupations can and must be done, that you can reclaim spaces, that you can plan new modes of struggle and manifest the real discontent that seethes in the state now.

Q. It seems you pulled together a diverse coalition of undergraduates,workers, and graduate students. Were there some differences in vision at points, and how did you handle them?

We’re proud of the diversity of this group: it does not represent a single interest or faction. Rather, it developed a momentum and shape of its own, the result of long, heated conversations and careful planning. (Not to mention sharing a space for a week.) Indeed, there are certainly differences in vision, and the range of documents, states, flyers, and speeches has made that apparent. We have tried to walk a very narrow line between the expression of a general line of thinking and the diffusion of our different perspectives and goals. As for the success of that, it is too early to judge, but with every action and meeting, new perspectives and ways of articulating what is common to us all emerge.

Q. What was the role of sociability in the occupation?

This is quite important to us. As mentioned, sharing the space produced a close-knit group, drawing together many of those who otherwise would not meet. We have been accused of making the space “exclusive” because of not letting its normal business go on. To the contrary: the space became a remarkable open zone of mutual aid and intellectual discussion. While the stress of this occupation has rightly been on the university crisis, we are also committed to modes of living and working together that exceed the logic of division between workers, graduate students, undergraduate students, and the unemployed. In addition, we threw dance parties in the quarry plaza, open to anyone, to insist that the escalation of struggle is also a struggle to live better. Giving students an opportunity to dance in a zone of the university normally used only for commerce was important to us.

Q. Are you concerned about repercussions for participants?

With actions such as this, potential repercussions are always weighed carefully. All those participating were aware that such actions are illegal and could result in trouble from police or the university. However, the decision was made that this occupation was of tremendous importance. We stand at a time in which, we argue, normal modes of negotiating with the university for better wages and decent access to education have ceased to be effective without additional escalation to bring a sense of crisis to them. For this reason, these were risks we were willing to take.

Q. I can’t imagine this is the last bold action by students and public employees in California. What do you think is next?

What is next is the broadening of struggle and involvement in actions far beyond our group. This is a year that will not and cannot go back to normal: we cannot feel that “we did our best” and then sit back and watch as public education is dismantled. We urge all students, workers, and faculty members to get involved and to escalate resistance across the state. Another way of running the university is possible, and we have everything to lose if we do not act.

Juan Conatz
Oct 7 2009 03:27
Quote:
Critique of liberal

Critique of liberal self-appointed leaders at UC Berkeley (from indybay.org):

Response fromAnarchist News article

Quote:
This article is total BS. But it shows exactly what those who built the general assembly at Cal hope to change. The model of recent activism in the US has for the most part been: Some activists get together, decide everything, then try to get people to do it with them, no discussion, no debate, everything decided by the initiators of the action. People are only allowed to vote with their feet.

This is in fact the model that the "anarchists" who attempted to initiate a building occupation were following. But inside Wheeler hall, 200 people were intently following a discussion of what to do next, and preparing to vote, as a body, on the proposals they were working out.

The power of the General Assembly is to allow the undecided, the curious, the newly activated students and workers to discuss, debate, vote, and feel ownership of their decisions. When people make their own decisions they make a commitment to and become organizers for their own plan of action. This is fundamental to anarchism, no?

Was the General Assembly disorganized? Yes. Did it need better facilitators. Hell yes. Was it stupid to break out into groups and then read every last proposal? Yes, that is the consensus. However, while two hundred people were in the middle of a general assembly, deciding collectively what to do, these "anarchists" began to initiate a building occupation by chaining the doors shut, without consulting anyone except themselves. When this action was announced to the assembly the overwhelming reaction was outrage, disgust, frustration, and even fright.

This sort of putsch by a group of self-selected individuals acting in the name of people without consulting them or winning their consent is authoritarian, sterile, and destructive. This is not the anarchism of Durruti, Bakunin, and Malatesta. This is puerile bullshit reminiscent of the worst actions of the Maoist sects of the 60s and 70s. Our movement will need to occupy buildings, initiate strikes, and take militant actions, but it must be with the participation, consent, and full support of people through democratic discussion debate, and democracy.

Luckily for those who hoped to build a bigger movement beyond the UCs, the students who came to the General Assembly were able to regroup and vote on the most important proposals of the evening: to continue holding mass democratic meetings, and to plan a conference of all who are effected by the budget cuts to be held at UC Berkeley on October 24th. All activists, radicals, revolutionaries, true anarchists, socialists, and concerned individuals who participated in that decision can be proud that people's desire for real self-organization and democracy persevered despite the best attempts of some stupid or malevolent individuals to disrupt it.

For more on October 24th see: http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2009/09/25/18623233.php

-A Participant in the General Assembly

Juan Conatz
Oct 10 2009 22:13

More about Berkley from Advance the Struggle

Quote:
UC Berkeley had a very notable protest of 5,000 people. After the rally and march, a general assembly (mass meeting) of 500 people took place at Cesar Chavez Student Center. The meeting was composed of “student leaders” from CalServe (the undergrad student government claiming to represent students of color), anarchists, student radicals, Trotskyists, Ultra-Left marxists and hundreds of curious UC Berkeley students trying to figure out how to struggle against budget cuts. The general assembly moderators imposed a formal procedural structure and pushed for breakout groups of 20 people to form outside, and then reconvened at Wheeler Hall to report-back. While networking with other schools for a student strike was brought up, the majority of the reports from the breakouts were for petitions, letter writing campaigns, and conferences. In the middle of the report-backs, the meeting had a key opportunity for radicalization. Someone read the occupation statement by UCSC students. A writer posting on IndyBay stated:

The crowd was visibly moved, and roared in support of the UCSC students, before chanting “Occupy! Occupy!” for several minutes. As the occupation committee sought an immediate vote, the self-imposed leadership insisted that the reportback procedure continue for a full hour more (yes, there was a vote, but both options led to the same continuation of procedure). The energy and momentum of the room was not respected, this was not democracy: it was proceduralism in an effort to prevent any strategy or tactic that the leadership disagreed with.

With this energy flowing, the crowd caught wind that there was an occupation committee at Berkeley putting chains on the doors of Wheeler Hall, leaving one door open. In the spirit of the Santa Cruz occupation, a clandestine group of Berkeley students were planning to occupy a building on the 24th. Due to their lack of organization and clear cut strategy for making the would-be occupation public, they impulsively decided to choose the site of the mass meeting as the occupation area – without making it clear to the people inside.

Although the spirit of the occupation committee was militant, they behaved as private revolutionaries, failing to execute and argue for their political strategy publicly amongst the general assembly. The political consciousness of the general assembly was sidestepped. Assuming that their occupation effort would be automatically supported by the general assembly, these students neglected to calculate the necessity of arguing for the occupation within the general assembly. Such a short-cut ended up being disastrous to the general assembly, which was organized for months by Student Worker Action Team (SWAT).

What happened was that the would-be occupiers sat around outside the assembly smoking cigarettes, while militant student activists from SF State student group SUP, were thrust to the front of the assembly by CalServe representatives to announce the occupation, and as a result became seen as representatives for the fumbling Berkeley occupiers.

At this point all hell broke loose, people left Wheeler Hall and the general assembly fell apart.

http://advancethestruggle.wordpress.com/2009/10/03/924-opening-shot-against-the-budget-cuts/#comments

Steven.
Nov 3 2009 01:14

Looks like many of the occupiers were new ravers:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1k-jsBlZmpo