terça-feira, novembro 30, 2010

Attacks on Education and Student Resistance

A text by Julian Brophy about the students strong fights at Ireland Higher Education.
On the 3rd of November about 30,000 people took to the streets of Dublin in what has been dubbed “the biggest Irish student demonstration of a generation”.

Currently the Irish higher educational system is “free”, meaning that students don't pay full tuition fees (as opposed to England for example). The government subsidises higher education to a large extent, and students pay an annual registration fee at the beginning of every college year. In the '08/'09 academic year, the registration fee was 900 Euros per year. In 09/10 the government delivered a staggering blow to Irish education, raising the registration fee to 1,500 Euros per year. In the midst of the plunging the country into unprecedented levels of debt, and failing to handle the economic crisis, the government turned to the education system for easy money once again. Fianna Fail (the Irish ruling party) proposed to raise the registration fee by a further 1,500 Euros, equaling a grand total of 3,000 Euros per student, per year, to attend university. This time however, the government and its law enforcers were met with a very different reaction.

The 3rd of November protest was a surprise to the country in many ways. The most striking feature of the demonstration was the mass mobilisation of tens of thousands of students from every university across the country, resulting in one of the largest student protests in Irish history. The second striking feature was the atmosphere of
energy, anger, and an invigorated student movement on the streets of Dublin.

Click here to read the full text...The routine for student marches in Dublin is usually this: gather at
Parnell Square at 1PM, march down past the Dail (government buildings), listen to speakers on a podium, go home. The 3rd of November however was significantly different. As the demonstration progressed along its path, about 2,000 people broke away from the main protest and marched to Merrion Row, where the Department of Finance is located, and about thirty students made it inside and staged a symbolic occupation of the front lobby, with hundreds outside showing support. At this point the gardai resorted to their heavy-handed and repressive tactics, calling in the riot squad, dog unit, and mounted gardai on horses. Violent clashes broke out between protestors and the police, as the gardai violently attempted to disperse the crowds.

Students were beaten badly, some ended up in hospital and others arrested. But unlike the student protests of two years ago when the government attempted to reintroduce full fees, students did not back down. The 3rd of November was a victory for the students of Ireland, and for the solidarity amongst people who are suffering the rippling effects of the government's cutback agenda. A further indication of Irish student movement's fresh vigour was a 500 person strong protest against the Garda brutality of the day which took place the following week.

In the midst of financial turmoil and colossal IMF/ECB bailouts, the situation in regard to the future of education in Ireland remains unclear. The government has not yet unveiled precise plans, but it has ensured that the registration fee will not go up to 3,000 Euros. What is certain however is that after plunging the country into economic disaster, the government will certainly announce a significant registration increase and cutbacks to university funding.

The effects of this will be devastating to students and their families in particular, but to the Irish working class in general. The USI (Union of Students in Ireland) has estimated that it costs a student/family an average of 10,000 Euros per year to send a student to university (registration, books, travel etc.). The idea of increasing this burden further in times like these, under the facade of “free education”, is a violent attack on working people's living standards. An Irish Times survey showed that in more socio-economically deprived areas of Dublin like Blanchardstown and Finglas, the university attendance rate for students having completed their leaving cert (secondary school diploma) is between 10-14% (while in many affluent parts of South Dublin the rate is close to 100%). If these communities are disadvantaged now, then their hopes of participating in higher education after the budget announcement are close to zero, because the money simply is not there!

Not only will students and workers suffer, but universities themselves will suffer tremendously also. Cutbacks in college services will be rampant, library hours will be cut, health charges implemented, and college workers (like cleaning staff especially) will be made redundant. In the light of pursuing a profitable knowledge based economy that will serve the needs of capital, resources for the Humanities and the Social and Political Sciences will be slashed; and blatant precedence will be given to profitable disciplines like Sciences and Business.

The threatened cutbacks in education are part of a broader agenda of attempting to make people who create wealth pay for the mistakes of bankers, politicians and bureaucrats who had too much of it and grossly mismanaged it. The December 7th Budget will be a staggering blow to workers, students, pensioners, welfare recipients and so on.

Mass mobilisation is planned for the weeks ahead, with a heavy and widespread focus on budget day. Anger at having been ridiculed by the bankers and their puppet government is everywhere in Irish society right now; but prevalent throughout it also is a strong sense of solidarity. Lecturers and unions have defended the students and have spoken out verbosely against the repressive measures used by the gardai on the 3rd of November. Students are mobilising very heavily in support of the upcoming protests (one on the 27th of November against the ECB/IMF deal, and then the huge one on the 7th of December for Budget Day), with radical public meetings on weekly in colleges across the country and student-activist groups like Free Education for Everyone and Students in Solidarity beginning to gain strength again.

It feels as if a fuse has been lit in Irish society that the powerful won't be able to extinguish, and the explosion could go off any day now."

sexta-feira, novembro 26, 2010

Student debt surpasses credit card debt @ USA

The amount U.S. students owe for tuition loans has surpassed what credit card borrowers owe for the first time, a private researcher said.
Mark Kantrowitz, publisher of FinAid.org and FastWeb.com, said student debt totals $850 billion, The Detroit Free Press reported. Revolving debt reported by the Federal Reserve Bank dropped to $827.8 billion in July.

With the recession forcing many to return to school, student borrowing rose 25 percent in 2009, skyrocketing to meet circumstantial demands of those who are out of work.

Concurrently, the recession has weighed heavily on consumer spending. Tuition hikes have also outstripped inflation for the past 20 years, the newspaper said.

"Students are far worse off today with student loan debt," said Alan Collinge, who manages an online student forum called StudentLoanJustice.org.

quinta-feira, novembro 25, 2010

In Italy: stop the country, take back the future!

Senate, airport, train stations, cities: students have stopped the country fighting education reform and the cuts to education!

These are very intense days in Italy: final cuts to the university has created a huge mobilization all over the country.

Tens of universities, more than 200 schools and even more colleges are going to be occupied this night: if Parliament is going to approve the education Reform, students will go on occupying everything.

An entire generation is rebelling against the destruction of the university and the dismantling of research.

We reclaim for welfare and free research against debt and lobbies, we want funding for education and university to create our own future, we block university and city, we reclaim our future!
Much more info @ UniRiot.Org

Students occupy University of Ottawa (@ Canada) administrative offices

Today, at approximately 1 p.m, students and concerned community members occupied the administrative offices at the University of Ottawa. Beginning at 1:30 p.m, a rally is also taking place in the building in support of this occupation. The action taken was in response to the decision made at the Board of Governors meeting held Monday evening. The University of Ottawa administration and its corporate appointees voted in favour of raising tuition fees, which will result in the following increases:
  • 4% for returning undergraduate students and 4.5% for new undergraduate students;
  • 4% for returning graduate students and 8% for new graduate students;
  • 4% for returning international students and 8% for new international students.
We, the students, recognize that this vote is simply reflective of the progressing neoliberal agenda towards education being felt across the world. This office occupation and rally against tuition fee increases was also in solidarity with fellow students in the United Kingdom, who are participating in a National Day of Action for Education, students across Italy who are currently occupying their universities, and students in New Brunswick who are taking to the streets today as well.

As demonstrated at the Townhall on Tuition Fees last week, students across the board are demanding that post-secondary education become more accessible. It is both disgraceful and inappropriate that our administration could hold such a townhall, and yet disregard all input received from us, the students, who will now will suffer the consequences of further inaccessible education. As demonstrated by the already increasingly over-used and straining services of the uOttawa Food Bank, student poverty is increasing. Yet, the Board of Governors has hiked our tuition fees once again, leaving us wondering: did we ever have a chance, or was the decision made without a second thought?

The group occupying the administrative office has the following demands:
  1. That the University of Ottawa administration and the Board of Governors reverse its decision on tuition fees increases, and instead freeze tuition fees at the current tuition fee rate until inflation makes it necessary (2052) to increase tuition fees;
  2. That the University of Ottawa administration formally sign an agreement and enact the necessary changes to allow a more representative amount of student seats upon the Board of Governors, in the area of 51%;
  3. A comprehensive study to be conducted in which a multitude to plans will be created that would be necessary for eliminating tuition fees.
The action today was set out in retaliation to the lack of responsiveness within the University of Ottawa’s administration. Over the last few years, campaigns such as ‘Drop Fees’ and ‘Education is a Right’ have emerged in an attempt to change the flawed system and freeze tuition fees for the benefit of students, who should be the University’s first priority.

Yet, such campaigns and all their requests have been ignored time and time again. The occupation and rallies today show that students will not back down, be ignored or be silenced. We will continue the fight for accessible post-secondary education until we win!

The students, united, will never be defeated!!!

Estudantes ingleses ocupam Universidades

Milhares de estudantes voltaram a protestar em Inglaterra contra o aumento das taxas anuais de empréstimos estudantis cobradas pelas Universidades. Uma viatura policial já foi atacada no centro de Londres e várias Universidades foram ocupadas.
Milhares de estudantes voltaram ontem às ruas de Londres em nova onda de protestos contra o aumento nas taxas anuais de empréstimos estudantis cobradas pelas Universidades inglesas.

Segundo avança a BBC Brasil, os estudantes ocuparam universidades em Plymouth, Birmingham, Londres e Bristol e estão a ser efectuadas marchas e protestos noutras universidades e colégios de Manchester, Liverpool, Sheffield, Oxford, Cambridge, Leeds e Newcastle, bem como em várias cidades da Escócia.

Antes dos protestos de ontem o vice-primeiro-ministro, Nick Clegg, pediu que os estudantes voltassem a analisar os planos de aumento dos empréstimos estudantis antes de participar nas manifestações. "Examinem as nossas propostas antes de irem para as ruas. Escutem e analisem antes de marchar e gritar", pediu Clegg.

O plano do Governo britânico é cortar o orçamento para a educação superior até 40% e eliminar as bolsas para professores, salvo as de ciência e matemática. Outros custos devem passar a ser financiados pelo aumento nas taxas dos empréstimos estudantis, que seriam elevadas a partir de 2012.

Os estudantes não atenderam ao pedido de Clegg e vieram mesmo para as ruas onde já existiram confrontos com as autoridades. Uma viatura policial foi cercada e atacada pelos estudantes e, caso os protestos se tornem mais violentos, a polícia já alertou que fará detenções.

Na manifestação de 10 de Novembro, na qual estiveram entre 20 mil e 50 mil pessoas e que terminou com 66 detenções, as forças policiais foram surpreendidas pelos manifestantes, que invadiram a sede do partido conservador, em Londres.
Vídeos das manifestações em Londres, Liverpool e Manchester.

quarta-feira, novembro 24, 2010

Commoniversity: doing Politics with Knowledge in the Transformations of the Global University

Doing politics with knowledge is the subtitle we at the Universidad Nomada and Traficantes de Sueños have given to the European gathering that will take place in Barcelona from the 26th to the 27th of November, in conjunction with MNCARS. This is an meeting of anomalous universities which attempt to rethink political action in relation to the struggle around knowledge, following the closure of the cycle of mobilizations known as the ‘anti-bologna movement’ or, in the rest of Europe, as the ‘anomalous wave’.

This is a gathering of anomalous universities. We have chosen this adjective, rather than free, experimental, nomad or popular, for two reasons. Firstly, to highlight the fact that these are unregulated spaces of education and research that move within coordinates at odds with those of the ‘knowledge market’. Secondly, to emphasize the link with the ‘anomalous wave’ movement characterized by campus occupations and general mobilization in European Universities over the last two years.

This is a European meeting. Around twenty projects from across the continent will participate in various discussions around the transformation of the global university, new institutionality, militant research networks and cartographies of the global university.

Royal Holloway (@ UK) have been occupied

The protest, organised by the Royal Holloway Anti Cuts Alliance1, is taking place outside the picture gallery of the University and is part of the National Day of Action that is being held on Wednesday as a follow up to the recent demonstration in London organised by the NUS and UCU.

The protesters plan to get the management of RHUL to agree to take a stance against the cuts. Their demands include that the management agree to speak out against the cuts and tuition fees. They also ask that the they consult the student body before any future decisions to cut services.

“The wave of sit-in protests that are sweeping the country are a sign of how angry and upset students are, and how the demonstration on the 11th was not the end of the story.” said Rustam Majainah, speaking on behalf of the Royal Holloway Anti Cuts Alliance. “We at Royal Holloway would like full transparency and consultation before any decision to implement cuts in the future are taken. Among other demands, we also want guarantees that female staff are not effected disproportionately by the cuts and that there should be a public review of all salaries over £100,000 paid to university staff.”

An open door policy is operating during the sit-in, allowing any students or staff wishing to join in the protest to do so, and have issued letters2 to those inside inviting them to take part in the protest and letting them know that they can enter and leave whenever they wish to. The students also plan on having discussions about their dissertations, talks from lecturers and watching films to make the most of their time during the protest.

terça-feira, novembro 23, 2010

22-25 novembre: Respingiamo questa riforma!

Dopo la grande giornata di mobilitazione dello scorso mercoledì 17 ottobre, la redazione di uniriot.org propone uno speciale sulle giornate a venire, decisive per rispondere con forza alla volontà del governo di approvare il ddl Gelmini nonostante le forti resistenze e le mobilitazioni di questi anni.

Tra il 24 e il 25 di novembre infatti il ddl approderà alla Camera per l'approvazione, a cui seguirà un ulteriore passaggio in Senato a dicembre: le dichiarazioni di questi ultimi giorni di Tremonti, ovvero le promesse di fondi che si sono nella realtà rivelate un bluff, hanno però ricompattato maggioranza e parte dell'opposizione attorno alla necessità dell'approvazione del ddl. Crui e Confindustrai, assieme a parti significative della cosiddetta opposizione in Parlamento, convergono sui temi centrali di questo ddl: rafforzamento del potere baronale, spazio ai provati nei cda delle università, dequalificazione e riduzione dell'offerta formativa, adeguamento strutturale dell'università ai tagli.

E' necessario comporre le forze di queste settimane e mettere in campo con forza l'indignazione contro questo governo in agonia, rilanciando nelle facoltà i processi di conflitto e di autoriforma per respingere il ddl, per attaccare il governo sui tagli e la finanziaria, per denunciare le complicità con l'operazione di smatellamento dell'università. Una settimana di agitazione e mobilitazione nelle facoltà di tutta Italia, per esprimere con determinazione e radicalità il dissenso rispetto alle politiche del governo da parte del corpo vivo dell'università: riprendiamoci il futuro contro i tagli e il ddl!

Central London college occupied by students

Students at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), London, have today taken over the Brunei Gallery, a central college building, in protest at the Coalition government’s plans to impose £4.3bn cuts to higher education. SOAS is predicted to face 100% cuts to its teaching budget as it specialises in languages and humanities subjects.

Following a mass meeting of the Students’ Union last week, which voted to support occupations at the college, protestors gathered on campus at Monday lunchtime. The Brunei Gallery was taken over shortly after by cheering students.

The demands are as follows:
Occupation Statement

At a huge Emergency General Meeting (EGM) last week, SOAS students voted in favour of occupation as part of our fight against Coalition government plans to cut higher education funding and raise tuition fees. Today, over sixty students have occupied the Brunei Suite at SOAS. This number is growing.

We stand in solidarity with other University occupations across the country and all those resisting the government’s draconian and unnecessary cuts. We encourage all students to participate in the National Day of Action against fees and cuts on 24th November. We call on the University administration to join us in our fight to defend education. In particular, we demand:

No victimisation of participants in this occupation and in previous and future student actions against fees and cuts.

That students who participate in the walk-out organised on the 24th of November are not marked as absent from lectures or tutorials on that day

Greater transparency in the School’s budget and in the School’s financial decisions.

That Paul Webley, SOAS Director, releases a statement openly condemning all cuts to higher education and any rise in tuition fees, and writes to the Government in the form of an open letter asking Vice-Chancellors across the country to unite against all threats to Higher Education.

That Paul Webley and SOAS management refuse to budget for the cuts and commit not to raise tuition fees.

We also request that all lecturers devote 15 minutes of lecture time to discuss the impact of the cuts in their classes throughout this week.

The occupation space is open to all students and staff and we encourage everyone to participate in occupation activities.

segunda-feira, novembro 22, 2010

Students break up University of Illinois (@ USA) Board of Trustees meeting

With the current crisis in higher education, the University of Illinois Board of Trustees two-day meeting on Sept. 23-4, 2010 was a highly anticipated one. At the end of the second day during the period for public comment, Pine Lounge in the UIUC union was a full, with others spilling into an overflow room. Present among the crowd were many students from the Graduate Emplyees’ Union (GEO), MEChA, and Undergraduate-Graduate Alliance.

During public comment, several students got up to address the board. Carlos Rosa addressed the difficulty of working class black and Latino students getting into the University of Illinois with the growing costs of tuition. He referred to the recent figures that only 359 African American students were in this year’s freshmen class and said it was “utterly ridiculous.” He pointed out it was more than 40 years ago that Project 500 was launched to bring 500 freshmen students to UIUC, and yet today these numbers are not nearly being met. Carlos called for the recruitment of minority students “from Chicago, to Champaign, to Cairo.”

Ben Rothschild spoke next and questioned the privatization of the university. He talked about the incentive for corporations to pay a graduate student at $20,000 a year, rather than hire a professional with a $75,000 salary. “Costs are being socialized,” he said, “and the profits are being privatized.” He also criticized former President B. Joseph White who stepped down after the “cloutgate” scandal and is now teaching in the Business Department. Ben asked, “Why is President White being paid $100,000 to teach a class on Business Ethics?”

Continue to read this news...Peter Campbell of the GEO cited Southern Illinois University President Glenn Pochard who has instituted a tuition freeze. Campbell asked the board if they would consider a similar freeze on tuition. Board of Trustees Chair Christopher G. Kennedy said, “There is a tradition of public comment, not of question and answer.” Peter replied that he had read the BOT documents permitting appropriate time for responses. Kennedy did not answer Peter’s question.

Stephanie Seawell, GEO co-president, was the last to address the board. She spoke about the growing burden on her own students she had spoken to as a graduate instructor. She asked the board if they would allow for a future presentation on the impact of tuition hikes on minorities at UIUC. Again, none of the board members responded.

Chair Kennedy said he was at the student senate the previous night and had spoken with students. Before he could finish explaining himself, Ben Rothschild yelled out, “Are you going to answer the questions?” Kennedy stammered. Ben began chanting “Whose University?” Other students in the room shouted back, “Our University!”
Students then got up out of their seats, stood in front of the board, put on t-shirts that spelled out “TUITION FREEZE,” and tied white handkerchiefs around their mouths. The board meeting was effectively over.

The board voted earlier on a request to give Emeritus status to controversial professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago, Bill Ayers. Chair Kennedy made a speech stating that he was voting to deny Emeritus status, claiming he was not making his decision based on issues of academic freedom, but because Ayers had dedicated one of his books to the man who killed his father, Robert Kennedy. Ayers had dedicated his 1974 book Prairie Fire to the more than 100 political prisoners in the United States, including Sirhan Sirhan, who had shot Kennedy.

At noon, the Campus Labor Coalition staged a rally attended by approximately 100 people on the quad.

sábado, novembro 20, 2010

The Death of the University, english style

A text by Nick Couldry and Angela McRobbie
Something important died on 12 October 2010: the idea of the university in England.

Perhaps 'received its death warrant' would be more accurate than 'died'. For there are still some weeks left in which to challenge the fate that the Browne Report proposed for our university system. But that requires looking closely at the mechanisms Browne proposes.

The Browne Report says it's about funding 'a sustainable funding solution for the future' of higher education. It calls for more investment and offers a new mechanism for generating investment, by putting 'choice... in the hands of the students'.

Who could object to more, and better, choice for students? We certainly don't. That is why it is important to understand that the new funding mechanism Browne proposes is only very partially about choice.

Browne proposes, and the Government accepts, that government financial support for universities' teaching infrastructure will be removed, and replaced by the income from student fees, received in the form of a government payment that graduates will repay back later through the tax system, if their earnings are high enough. Let's leave aside so-called 'priority' courses for the moment, and ask what are the likely effects of this revolution in English universities' general funding model? Government will save a lot of money, and many will celebrate this, but the long-term costs of those savings will be both subtle and deep.

First, universities' financial planning will be thrown into uncertainty, affecting their forward decisions on the degrees they provide. It will become increasingly difficult to ensure continuity of quality and the maintenance of standards when income cannot be predicted.

Second, students may begin to choose degrees on the basis of the earnings capacity a degree will give them. Only two types of student will be relaxed about their choice: those with high parental resources behind them, and those choosing degrees (maybe a leading finance or business degree?) who may believe that such a degree will guarantee them large salaries in the City, though this is now less guaranteed than before.

Third, over the longer-term, the range of degrees most universities offer will be narrowed. If university finance is largely (for some institutions exclusively) driven by student fee income, and student decisions narrowly driven by calculations of future earnings, how easy will it be in 10 years time to propose a new degree in philosophy, art history, or a language not on the government's list of 'strategically important' languages? Will the result really be more choice?

Two types of course will be protected from these new pressures: courses which government deems a national priority (medical, certain other science, technology and health care courses, some languages); and non-priority courses in richer universities that those universities decide to cross-subsidise. But universities and colleges that don't teach 'priority' courses will have little chance of generating the reserve income for such subsidies – even if they survive the new funding regime. Browne recognises that a consequence of his reforms in some universities will come under pressure to close.

Unless resisted, Browne's proposals are likely, over time, to narrow the range of degree courses offered to students, so they become increasingly dominated by courses that are work-skills-oriented or carry high social prestige. Elite universities may be able to withstand these pressures, but only because they can charge the highest fees: we don't believe the resulting implications of this for inequality of access to higher education can be mitigated in a country that lacks the USA's century-old system of university endowments.

Our conclusion as two academics proud to teach in non-priority areas (the arts, humanities and social sciences) is that some major principles of the English education system are now under threat. There is the basic principle that governments support universities to provide a wide range of courses giving access at the highest level to the full range of human knowledge, understanding and creativity. Also under threat is the principle that, through this broad idea of the university, young people have the opportunity to develop their full intellectual and creative potential, regardless of family wealth. Browne appears to believe that a system for distributing resources based on individual market choice will somehow generate the university system that society needs (and you thought neoliberalism was dead!).

Yet there has been too little debate so far on this deeper threat to the university system represented by the Coalition's response to the Browne report. One explanation for that lack of debate is old-fashioned divide-and-rule. As Browne says, he has introduced a 'more dynamic system of funding', which means that in the short term it may not be in, for example, Russell Group universities' interests to challenge what is proposed.

It is all universities however – and the inclusive idea of the university for which England has until now been internationally admired – that, in the long run, will be diminished by the reforms now under way. The London march on Wednesday 10 November 2010 was just the first stage in opening up the wider debate that is needed.
Nick Couldry is professor of Media and Communications at Goldsmiths, University of London; his latest book is Why Voice Matters: Culture and Politics After Neoliberalism (Sage, 2010).

Angela McRobbie is professor of Communications at Goldsmiths, University of London; her latest book is The Aftermath of Feminism (Sage, 2009).

sexta-feira, novembro 19, 2010

You are the ruins, we are the future!

Far beyond the rituality, the 17th November in Italy has been a great day of struggle spread all over the country, against the government, cuts and the last education reform.

High schools, universities, students, researchers, precarious, teachers, all the education world took to the streets not just to give a signal of presence, but furthermore to shout our strong dissent to a reform that destroy completely the educational system in Italy.

In Rome, students showed a banner saying "what future among these ruins?" closing the entrance of the university to affirm the necessity of a national and generalized strike.

In fact, if European Union approved the austerity measures, legitimizing the destruction of welfare state, the Italian government is destroying completely any form of guarantees and social rights. In this context, the question of future and welfare becomes the central claim for students that are struggling: "knowledge is a common good, take back the future!" affirmed the banner opening the demo in Padua, and more "Today we take back everything" said the banner in Pisa.

The last news tells us that about 90% of the scholarships have been cut by the "reform", so that yesterday students claimed for welfare and funding against student loan. In fact, in the next year every form of sustenance and indirect income will be dismissed, encouraging loans and indebtedness. So, in Bologna, students showed yellow banners claiming for studentships as part of the regional campaign "yes we cash" to obtain basic income. At the same time, in Genova and Turin students enveloped and closed the head quarter of the regional government with long stripes, showing the banner "too much cuts, danger collapse!".

Basic income is the only perspective we can draw for a real change as an answer to the global crisis, that's why communicative actions spread all over Italy focusing on the finance issue. A huge demo in Palermo threw eggs against the Sicilia Bank, as in Turin San Paolo Bank was the target of students shouting "Satisfied or reimbursed? Income for everyone!"; in Pisa students made direct actions against banks and private universities, trying to reach the headquarter of the italian industrial confederation (Confindustria) where police charged them in a brutal way, injuring several of them. The same happened in Ancona.

Otherwise police brutality, students affirmed their right to take to the streets, to block the city expressing dissent and rage! "ignorance is submission, knowledge is rebellion" said banners in Genova. In Turin an unauthorized parade occupied the train Station, and in Padua students occupied a meeting where the secretary of the CGIL (the biggest union in Italy) was participating, and they asked for a General strike. In Rome thousand of students and researchers decided to break the rules of the City council and reached the Parliament with giant books as symbolic shields: it was a wild demo spreading in the city center.

The necessity of a big trans-national and generalized strike has been another issue for the demos. A national space of debate defined the possibility of a common struggle between unions and movements: "United against the crisis" is both the name of this experiment and then the words that links the demos on 17th November.

Not only a day of conflict in the education world, but even more an attempt of recomposing all the workers against austerity.
Once more, from the Wave in 2008 and the last mobilizations pushed by researchers, the attempt was to match and to communicate among students, teachers and precarious.

In Rome, a banner of precarious workers of the university was opened saying "You are the ruins, we are the research": events, open lessons in the squares, symbolic and direct actions will characterize next week in the attempt to connect different subjects of education, to affirm that this reform cannot be approved and that the government must fund university and research.

The demos on 17th November all around Europe are just the signal of the impossibility of austerity and destruction of the university, the necessity of a huge movement to take back our future.

quinta-feira, novembro 18, 2010

A report on the protests at Fall Regents Meeting

On November 17, as the UC Regents met in San Francisco to discuss a proposed eight percent undergraduate tuition increase, as well as a reduction in pensions for University employees, a group of over 300 students and workers from across the UC system gathered at the site of the Regents meeting. As the regents arrived, protesters formed picket lines at all entrances of the building, such that police officers ultimately had to forcibly break up protest lines in order to allow individual Regents to enter the building. After the Regents had been escorted into their meeting, protesters massed on the east side of the building. They pulled down a police barricade, and began marching toward the east entrance, hoping to enter into the Regents meeting and interrupt a process that promises to delay their retirements and cast them even further into debt. Students and workers were attempting to reclaim their futures from the Regents, whose austerity proposals appear to be little more than unjustifiable ends in themselves, as the stabilization of state funding has rendered such measures unnecessary.

Protesters were initially met at the east doors with police who wielded billy-clubs as bludgeons, and with a brief dousing of pepper spray. Pushed back once, students and workers massed a second time in front of the police line, and began again to walk towards the entrance. This time, the police coated them with an extended, indiscriminate blanket of pepper spray. People who were more than ten feet away from the line of police needed treatment for the burning sensation in their eyes and on their faces caused by exposure to this chemical weapon. Those closer to the police required intensive treatment, and were, in some cases, still in pain over an hour later.

After these incidents on the east door, protesters moved around to the other side of the building and attempted to enter into the Regents meeting through an attached parking garage. A number of protesters were able to enter into the interior foyer before being beaten aggressively with batons, pepper sprayed at close range, and, in some cases, arrested. Again, those who were sprayed required intensive treatment. During this confrontation inside the parking garage, UCPD officer Kemper pulled his gun on students without provocation. Concerning this incident, spokespeople from the UC administration and from UCPD have claimed – despite conflicting video evidence -- that a student took officer Kemper's baton and beat him on the head with it. Video of the incident shows Kemper losing control of his baton as he rushes students, and then -- without provocation -- unholstering his gun. An open letter has been released calling on the UC and UCPD to account for their public misrepresentation of this incident -- an incident that has severely frightened students and workers, who recognize that one further false move on the part of officer Kemper could have resulted in serious injury or even death.

At UC Berkeley, concerned members of the campus community will meet tonight to respond to the fee increases and to the police violence faced by students and workers at the Regents meeting. We will be meeting at 6pm in Dwinelle 370. Please join us in carrying forward the protests against educational privatization and police violence on our campuses.

segunda-feira, novembro 15, 2010

Sussex University goes into occupation

200 students went into occupation today (Monday 15th November) at Sussex University. We are occupying against cuts and rising fees in education.

Please rush in messages of support to sussexstopthecuts@gmail.com.
If you are a student at Sussex or Brighton please join us in the Fulton building on Sussex campus and bring along your friends, food, drink, sleeping equipment, etc…

Follow the occupation on Twitter: http://twitter.com/stopsussexcuts.

More soon.

quarta-feira, novembro 10, 2010

Today: March for the future of education @ London

The government's education policy is regressive, punitive and unnecessary – join the march to protect our future.
Today will see tens of thousands of people concerned about the future of education marching from Horse Guards Avenue, past Westminster, to Millbank. Organised by the National Union of Students and the University and College Union under the banner "Fund our Future: Stop Education Cuts", the protest serves as an indication of the enormous anger generated by the government's proposals to cut funding, massively increase fees and force those not rich enough to pay for their courses up front (ie most people) and sign up for a life of debt – or avoid university altogether.

Many have pointed to the shortsightedness of cutting university provision at a time when the economy is stuttering. Across Europe, very few countries have opted to cut funding to universities, believing that the future of their economy depends, in part, on producing high-quality graduates. Britain is already spending less on the sector than many other countries (0.9% compared with Sweden's 1.6% and the US's 2.9%), but now the government is effectively proposing to transfer the entire responsibility for future funding of teaching to students and graduates.

Ministers who paid nothing for their university education, who received grants and full fees, are telling everyone else that they must sign up for decades of debt. It is very clear that those who start with least will be less inclined to borrow the most: furthermore, the introduction of differential fees (possibly up to £9,000) will create a divided sector in which those institutions that tend to attract richer students will charge as much as they can.

Students will be forced to make an economic calculation regarding the worth of their intellect: as arts, humanities and social sciences face a total withdrawal of government funding, these subjects are likely to disappear at post-92 universities, leaving classics, history, philosophy and art to those who can afford to "indulge" in such pursuits. Everyone else will have to choose something "useful", despite the fact that there are likely to be even fewer jobs for them due to the government's response to the economic crisis. Britain's appalling lack of social mobility and class division will only be reinforced by the proposed cuts.

The march is not simply about students protesting their own situation – in fact, most current students won't yet be affected by the proposals, although they, too, are already facing a future structured by debt. People will be marching for those who are not yet at university: those who will see their education maintenance allowance (EMA) cut as they attempt the A-levels they hope will get them into university in the first place; those who will be put off university altogether by the fear of debt; those who believe that higher education doesn't simply belong to the rich. The government's plans for universities are regressive, punitive and unnecessary. The protesters today will be making this very clear. British universities are institutions to be proud of, not punished. Join the protesters today, if you can.

terça-feira, novembro 09, 2010

sábado, novembro 06, 2010

Towards a People's Assemblies movement @ UK

In response to the economic crisis, government cuts and the pressures of globalisation, we are now witnessing the rise of social movements from across the political spectrum in Britain, Europe and beyond. But how can this popular discontent be transformed into an emancipatory political movement?

It is the view of many activists that a very different form of mobilisation, and a new kind of politics aimed at changing the balance of power is now urgently required. Taking inspiration from last year's Climate Justice Action (CJA) mobilisation in Copenhagen, and the many spontaneous calls made there - and elsewhere - for a new movement based on People's Assemblies, the following planning meeting is now being convened.
Liberation: Beyond Resistance
Building a People's Assemblies Movement

Saturday 11th December 1-5pm
@ Birkbeck College

sexta-feira, novembro 05, 2010

3 Novembre 2010: La Sorbonne a été occupée!

La Sorbonne a été occupée aujourd’hui, mercredi 3 Novembre, par une cinquantaine de grévistes. L’action a commencé vers 16h30 par une assemblée générale, a continué par des tours d’information en amphis et salle de TD. À 19h, une cinquantaine de personnes se retrouve cour Saint Jacques ; l’occupation commence effectivement. Un communiqué est rédigé, une banderole (“Sorbonne occupée, grève générale”) est attachée aux fenêtres donnant sur la rue Saint-Jacques, offrant une forte visibilité aux passants. Peu après, quelques soutiens (plusieurs dizaines) se rassemblent sous les fenêtres de la salle occupée ; plus tard, ils ravitailleront les occupants en nourriture et boisson, qui sont hissées dans la salle au moyen d’écharpes attachées entre elles.

L’occupation se déroule dans une bonne ambiance, jusque vers 23 heures où la police entre en Sorbonne afin d’évacuer les occupants. Les flics défoncent une porte pour entrer, cassant au passage la poignée et le montant. Les grévistes forment alors une chaîne humaine afin d’éviter les évacuations individuelles ; les policiers refusant une sortie collective, après plusieurs minutes, se saisissent du premier étudiant à leur portée, et, par une clé de cou, réussissent finalement à le séparer du groupe et l’emmènent. Clé de bras, de cou, placage contre le mur et étranglement (avec bien sûr le sarcasme habituel) semblent constituer la technique d’évacuation. Les étudiants sont alors évacués un à un (escortés en clé de bras par deux policiers jusqu’à la sortie) et voient leur identité relevée. Les violences policières ont été concrètes mais modérées. À minuit, tous les occupants avaient été sortis.

Les étudiants de la Sorbonne, suite à cette occupation de 5 heures la veille de la rentrée lycéenne, rappellent que le mouvement est loin d’être mort, contrairement à ce que laisse entendre la plupart des médias de masse. Ils regrettent, en outre, que seul BFM TV ait daigné se déplacer pour cette occupation, et que l’info ne fût relayée que par les sites d’information militants habituels.

quinta-feira, novembro 04, 2010

Goldsmiths students occupy over tuition fee rise

Students angry at a rise in tuition fees have occupied one of their University buildings and plan to stage an all-night protest.
Around 50 students marched into the Deptford Town Hall building, part of Goldsmiths University, with banners saying ‘They say cut back, we say fight back’.

Earlier today, Universities Minister David Willetts announced that Universities in England would be able to charge up to £9,000 per year. A lot of the annual fee rise, up from £3,290, will replace funding that was cut in the Comprehensive Spending Review.

Goldsmiths Student Union campaigns officer James Haywood said the protestors planned to stay in the building, which contains senior management offices, all night. Mr Haywood said: “It’s not just about the tuition fees. It’s about the cuts”. “Senior management has made it clear they support the increase in fees. They’re refusing to join our campaign”.

quarta-feira, novembro 03, 2010

Free Education for Everyone: a statement regarding events today at the Dept. of Finance

Students from Free Education for Everyone (NUI Maynooth, NUI Galway) and the Students in Solidarity Network (University College Dublin, Trinity College Dublin) issued a call for a clearly visible left-wing presence on today’s Demonstration against the re-introduction of third level fees, in the form of a registration fee increase or otherwise. This call was answered by student activists from a range of political organisations, including the Socialist Workers Party, Socialist Party, Workers Solidarity Movement, éirigí, the 32 CSM and others. For the most part however, the call was answered by independent students.

Up to 1,000 students joined our breakaway at Kildare Street, staging a short sit down protest outside the home of the corrupt and unaccountable political establishment of this state. Recognising the futility of marching from A to B and listening to the same speeches from aspiring politicians, many of these students joined us in marching to the Department of Finance where a sit in demonstration was held. It is the Department of Finance which is attacking ordinary working people with such vigour in recent times, and this occupation was symbolic of the anger of students and the Irish public.

We are not the “anti- social, hooligan element of the student movement”, rather today we showed that we are perfectly in touch with the anger felt by the student body. The sight of thousands of students outside, cheering on the direct action showed the positive effect such direct action can have on the Irish student movement. Such actions, we believe, are a necessary step forward. This government wish to attack education, public services and working people and this must be resisted.

There was no act of violence carried out by those protesting at the Department, and any violence outside was instigated by the inept response of the Gardai. Students sitting on the road in protest were baton charged repeatedly by Gardaí, with many suffering injuries. One female student was knocked unconscious during the assault on the crowd, and other students clearly displayed head injuries. “The Gardaí rushed the crowd on numerous occasions, including spectators on the street. The crowd, which at this point had swelled up to 2,000 students with many from the main demonstration joining us, vented their anger at the response of the Gardaí who had begun encircling them”, said Lorcan Myles, a Free Education for Everyone activist who witnessed the events. We make no apologies for the direct action taken.

Ultimately, events like today’s will happen in a society where people are under constant attack from the political establishment. The arrests and attacks carried out on students today will not deter the movement.
Free Education for Everyone and The Students In Solidarity Network are independent student grassroots campaigns active in numerous Irish third level institutions. Previous protests have included resisting the appointment of Bertie Ahern T.D by NUI Maynooth as an Honorary Professor, opposing numerous TD’s visits to various campuses including Belfield and NUI Galway and building broad student support for a left wing and grassroots student movement.

terça-feira, novembro 02, 2010