segunda-feira, abril 19, 2010

Ocúp(arte) @ Rio Piedras, University of Puerto Rico

Students in the Faculty of Humanities and the Faculty of Social Sciences at the University of Puerto Rico, Rio Piedras, have announced their plans to occupy both faculties on April 12th.

“Throughout the day we will have performances, music, poetry, art, work-shops and concerts. We will occupy against funding cuts, decrease of students rights and moratorium on tuition waivers.”

Click here to read «Ocúp(arte): The Humanities Manifesto»...The Humanities faculty is yours, his, hers, and ours. Let’s transform it then, into an active and dynamic space filled with participation and collaboration. Let’s modify the State and the Administration-fed attitudes of competition and anxiety, and replace them with cooperation, compassion and youthful jubilation. As existing power structures have already started to crack and shown their anti-humanist agendas; so let today and tomorrow be filled with love and a call to action. Our academic spaces are under siege from the powerful, and must be reclaimed as tools for liberation. As humanists we can imagine and create all sorts of possible worlds. It is time to realize them.

We are occupying our faculty in order to find ourselves, to cast aside any attempt to separate and alienate us. Instead of this kind of death, we have decided to un-muzzle our mouths and let the world know that a new world has taken shape from our hearts. We are a multitude which thinks, reflects, and criticizes; a generation whose heartbeat is steeled by the shared interaction between the fist and a kiss.

This is not a call to defend the University, but to redefine it into something new: one that is horizontal and non-hierarchic, participatory and democratic. Our action is a call for diversity, to the plurality that defines our educational space. It is the whole of all the types of rich knowledge that contributes to new and different worlds, countries, cities, multitudes and spaces. Such a colorful melody of difference and respect, solidarity and love, echoes along the halls of our faculty.

We are the children of crisis and marginalization, of an economic system that represses and plunders. We are the descendants of a political system that condemns participation and decides unilaterally, from the top down. But we are also the heirs of a long tradition of people that blazed a path for those rights that we now enjoy, that paid with sweat and blood for those benefits that face annihilation today. Therefore, we are retaking the UPR, so that those that follow tomorrow possess what we have endeavored to build: a multiplicity of knowledge, of perspectives that allow us to think freely in the world we live in, and the world we choose to create.

The fiscal fetish shared by the State and the university’s administration conceives education as a production line of consumer goods. As it seems that the humanities do not offer this, they are targeted for gradual elimination. What the humanities do provide, and they choose to ignore, is the opportunity to be critical, to reflect and question, to give shape to worlds of sounds, of color, performances and of the written word, distinct from our own. Education cannot be seen through capital’s narrow gaze or the market’s whims. Such an education merely reproduces docile subjects and uncritical automatons. Let us smash the machine!

We propose a liberating and edifying education that generates autonomous and critical minds, in a collaborative bond between professor and student. We want an education where everyone involved participates as those who teach and those who learn. Yet let us not confuse these verbs with the assigned roles of teacher and student, for they apply to everyone. Such an education by definition must include marginalized communities as subjects of study: immigrants, people of the LGBTQ community, women, men, old and young. In order to achieve this participatory and democratic education, we must build strong ties of solidarity between study and its subjects.

Solidarity is not built vertically, from the top down, but sideways. Embrace the one next to you and whisper into his or her ear that you affirm their existence, and that you will not abandon him or her. Let us intertwine our bodies as roots in a fertile soil that will bear the fruit of imagination and change. Paint our arms with landscapes of dignity and respect.

Don’t just worry and stand by, occupy!

3 comentários:

Puerto Rican University closes after Student Protests turn violent disse...

The University of Puerto Rico, which has more than 65,000 students, closed its Rio Piedras campus indefinitely today after 19 security guards were injured during student protests against budget cuts and changes in the university's academic program, according to the Associated Press. The announcement comes three weeks before classes end, and an official at the university said the closures would mean that graduation this year and fall enrollment will be delayed.

Puerto Rico student strike disse...

After two days of a student occupation of the University of Puerto Rico (UPR) in Rio Piedras, San Juan, student leaders have declared an indefinite strike.

The student assembly organized by the student General Council last week approved the two day walk-out and an indefinite strike if the administrators of the state run and owned university did not negotiate seriously with the students.

The main student demands are:

1. Stop the more than $100 million proposed reduction in funds for the UPR;

2. Halt the privatization of the UPR.

The reaction of the pro statehood government and university officials has been a heavy handed use of the riot squad which has on various occasions since Wednesday used force in an attempt to break the strike and student morale. An attempt by the riot squad to take over the main entrance to the university was resisted by the students who fought back the aggression. However, the cops now control the entrance.

Various labor leaders in the fight against the government's firing of over 20,000 public sector workers have participated on the student picket line outside the university and some have entered the university in support of the student strike.

Other campuses of the University of Puerto Rico in Humacao, Mayaguez and others have also declared their intention to go on strike staring Friday. On the other hand, some 100 teachers led by Rafael Feliciano, President of the Teachers Federation of Puerto Rico occupied offices of the government's Treasury (Hacienda) protesting the destruction of the teacher's retirement fund which is being privatized by the government.

See a video of student parody of riot squad and another video of teachers occupation of government offices and their removal by the riot squad.

Student strike shuts down UPR disse...

University of Puerto Rico students successfully, and almost without a significant incident, paralyzed academic and administrative operations at the Río Piedras campus Wednesday after University officials had vowed to keep the institution open.

A group of several dozen students who had stayed within campus premises since Tuesday night joined others coming into the campus on Wednesday morning and successfully locked the gate on Barbosa Avenue as early as 6:00 am. At the gate five or six University guardsmen had tried to stop the students in a kind of tug o’war with them to control the gate. In the melee some of the guardsmen and students were crushed between one another and exchanged some blows. Meanwhile, several others were pepper sprayed in a confusing incident. Twenty minutes later the same group of students had crossed the campus and locked UPR’s main gate at Ponce de León Avenue without incident.

“By insisting in keeping the gates open the administration is trying to provoke a confrontation,” said Student Negotiating Committee member Adriana Mulero, who Wednesday morning called the first of the two days stoppage “a success.” “They [University officials] expected we would come around 4:00 am to close the campus main gate. Instead, we took refuge at the university itself – the way it is meant to be – last night and this morning proceeded to close the gate on Barbosa Avenue,” explained Mulero, also a member of the Public Education Student Defense Committee. Mulero informed the students had organized themselves to occupy the UPR “from within while avoiding confrontation.”

But for UPR’s Interim Chancellor Ana Guadalupe far from avoiding confrontation, the students had provoked it. In a last minute press conference Guadalupe announced that as of 9:45 Wednesday morning she had decreed an indefinite academic and administrative recess for the Río Piedras Campus. “It is my responsibility to provide a peaceful and quiet atmosphere for classes and other campus activities to take place, where students, professors and employees can fulfill their tasks,” Said Guadalupe. “Up until the violent incident where 19 security officers were pepper sprayed and assaulted with pipes, pieces of wood with nails [sticking out], chains and other objects, in a clear violation of the demonstrators commitment to uphold the no confrontation policy, we see no alternative other than the indefinite academic and administrative recess,” added the Chancellor.

Questioned how many of the UPR police had been beaten and injured Guadalupe said that all 19 officers had been injured. But reports from several journalists covering the incident all agreed that no more than six university guardsmen had been involved in the incident that took place at the gate on Barbosa Avenue and that only two of them had exchanged blows with the students. Press reports of the incident also specify that it was one of the guardsmen who pepper sprayed the crowd but that the wind had carried the irritating substance towards his fellow officers. Guadalupe insisted that the number of injured officers had been 19 but declined to offer any evidence on the subject while assuring that “all evidence will be presented in due time.”

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