quinta-feira, março 31, 2011

Montreal police use stun grenades to disperse students following tuition protest

What started as a peaceful downtown protest by more than 2,000 Quebec students against higher tuition fees turned ugly Thursday just as the demonstration started winding down.
Montreal riot police had to move in and use stun grenades and pepper spray to disperse a rowdy group of students after scuffling with them outside a government building.

Five people were arrested on a variety of charges ranging from assaulting or threatening police officers and mischief. Four of them were released late Thursday night after making promises to appear in court. One man is due in court Friday to face charges of mischief and breaking earlier court-imposed conditions.

Tuition to rise $325 per year

The demonstration coincided with a one-day strike by thousands of Cegep and university students. Students in the province have promised to fight the government's proposal to raise university tuition fees by $325 a year for five years, beginning in 2012.

The planned increases would bring tuition for Quebec students to $3,793 in 2016-17, up from the current $2,168. That would still leave the province 30 per cent below the 2010 Canadian average.

Students are worried the higher tuition fees will further complicate efforts to fund their education. "Our demands today are really simple," said spokesman Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois. "We want the Charest government to back off from its intention to raise tuition fees. We are totally against this drastic measure that is really an historical attack to the right to education and to the accessibility of post-secondary education. Today in Quebec we have one of the lowest tuition fees in Canada, and I think we should be proud of this, not ashamed of this."

Nick, a 60-year-old teacher who watched the protest before police moved in, called the Quebec tuition fee increases a compromise and described them as "pretty reasonable. But obviously it's going to cause some students at the bottom end of the scale to find it difficult to make the necessary funding," he added.

"If we were really to bring it (fees) up to the level that other provinces charge, it would probably cause more than just a riot." Students say that they will next protest at a Quebec Liberal Party meeting on Sunday in Boucherville. They say that a student strike in either the Spring or Autumn remains a possibility.

segunda-feira, março 28, 2011

Chinese students screened for 'radical thoughts' and 'independent lifestyles'

Scheme at Peking University in Beijing angers undergraduates and prompts comparison with Cultural Revolution.
One of China's most prestigious universities has announced plans to screen all students and identify those with "radical thoughts" or "independent lifestyles", provoking angry reactions from undergraduates and comparisons to the Cultural Revolution.

Administrators at Peking University say their focus is on helping those with academic problems. But the institution's announcement identifies nine other categories of "target students" – including people with internet addiction, psychological fragility, illness and poverty, plus those prone to radical thinking and independent or "eccentric" lifestyles.

It adds: "The objective of the consultation programme is to help individual students achieve an all-around and healthy development." It says officials should respect students' individual differences but they must "address ideological problems and practical issues" and help to guide them.

Zha Jing, deputy director of the office of student affairs, insisted the university was not trying to punish or control students but to "create an environment for healthy growth".

Zha said: "We've noticed ... some students having radical thoughts and bigoted character and encountering difficulties in interpersonal communication, social adaptiveness and their studies. They cannot analyse and handle their problems in daily life in a rational and manifold way. For example, they cannot get on well with roommates, cannot handle love setbacks in a calm way and cannot adapt to career life after graduation."

Earlier, when asked about students with "radical thoughts", he told the Beijing Evening News: "For instance, some students criticised the university just because the food price in the canteen was raised by 2 jiao [2p]."

While some students have voiced support for the university, others are furious. One student told the Beijing Evening News that the college where the scheme had been piloted was known for liberal thinking, but that the new rules would make people think it wanted to cage its students' minds.

Peking University has a similar standing to Oxford or Cambridge but, unlike those institutions, has a reformist reputation: its students played a crucial role in the 4 May movement of 1919 and the 1989 pro-democracy Tiananmen Square demonstrations.

Zhang Ming, a politics professor at Renmin University, also in Beijing, said: "For a university to see a student having radical thoughts or independent thinking as a bad thing that has to be punished, is terrible. College students are all young and energetic – it is normal for them to have differentiated, active thoughts. It is their right to be radical. If a university punishes this, the university is morally degenerating."

Xiong Bingqi, deputy director of the 21st Century education research institute in Beijing, told China Daily: "The university is somewhere to cultivate people's independent personalities and thinking, so it's totally wrong for Peking University to intervene in students' freedom to express their different opinions."

A university spokesman told the Guardian that all interviews had to be requested seven days in advance. The ministry of education has not responded to faxed queries.

The scheme has been piloted in a college at the university since November. It is due to be rolled out in May, although a statement posted on Monday.

sábado, março 26, 2011

Cut the war not our education!

On the 26th of March italian students are going to London, to block the city together with English students. UniCommon will be there with those are fighting against the rising fees and european austerity. It will not be a demo like the others: it is a european day of struggle launched in London on 30th of January, a common day after month of resistance.

We have learnt to block the city through the savage demos in Paris during the NoCPE movement of 2006, while in London students have build up book-shields like us in Rome last year. This amazing sharing of practice bring us to London on side by side to Porto Rico and Wisconsin's students and Maghreb people.

We want to go to London to say clearly to the English Government, as well as to the Italian's one, that the only cuts we like are those on army and war! Cut the war not our education!

At the same time we are organizing a huge demonstration in Rome to support "Common goods" as energy, knowledge and water, we will block the city and make actions to support UK mobilization.

Meeting point is at P.le Aldo Moro, University La Sapienza, Rome.


sexta-feira, março 25, 2011

Uniti per lo sciopero, contro la crisi e contro la guerra

Assemblea pubblica di movimento alla Sapienza presso la facoltà di Lettere, lanciata dall'appello "Uniti per lo sciopero"con la partecipazione tra gli altri di Gino Strada, Maurizio Landini, Paul Ginsborg, Rossana Rossanda.
Questo autunno centinaia di migliaia di precari, studenti, giovani, si sono ribellati contro il governo Berlusconi e le politiche di austerity. Chi non ricorda le straordinarie mobilitazioni di novembre e dicembre, i cortei selvaggi, le occupazioni dei monumenti, il Book Bloc, le pratiche, efficaci e spiazzanti, messe in campo da una mobilitazione così ampia e radicale come non se ne ricordavano da molto tempo? Non citiamo le mobilitazioni dell'autunno come semplice evocazione di quel che è stato, ma perché a partire dalla contestazione del Ddl Gelmini, all'interno delle scuole e delle università, abbiamo provato a costruire uno sguardo diverso sulla società, utile a ribaltare le retoriche governative che ci vorrebbero tutti umili, consenzienti, sfruttati e divisi.

Per tutto l'autunno abbiamo ribadito, invece, il legame profondo tra le nostre mobilitazioni a quelle degli operai della Fiat, da Pomigliano a Mirafiori, dei migranti e delle donne, di tutti quei soggetti che, con coraggio e determinazione, difendono i loro diritti e respingono il ricatto. Un legame definito non tanto e non solo dalla comune condizione che vive chi subisce un attacco, quanto dal desiderio di costruire un'alternativa di società. Un'alternativa capace di andare oltre l'antiberlusconismo, di lanciare un'offensiva contro il Modello Marchionne e il Modello Gelmini, il Bunga bunga e le politiche xenofobe. Su questi legami crediamo si debba fondare la primavera che viene.

Proseguire la lettura dell'articolo...Proprio le nostre mobilitazioni, le mobilitazione degli studenti e dei giovani precari, hanno messo in luce come il processo di dismissione dell'università pubblica sia l'ennesimo passo verso la definizione di saperi sempre più dequalificati, inservibili. A questo disastro si sta accompagnando, inesorabile, la ricaduta, sulla vita di milioni di giovani, della crisi economica, sotto la forma di una precarietà sempre più selvaggia, dell'impossibilità di accesso a qualsiasi forma di reddito, di una continua e perenne ricattabilità. Il 30% dei giovani italiani è disoccupato, una percentuale che si ingigantisce se lo sguardo viene rivolto ai neolaureati. L'illusione tecnocratica dell'università del 3+2 si è infranta sugli scogli della dura realtà: se di lavoro ce n'è poco, ce ne è ancora meno per chi ha studiato, e si trova a dover pesare sulle spalle dei propri genitori. E chi da laureato trova lavoro, solitamente fa cose che non hanno nulla a che fare con le competenze acquisite. Declassamento, blocco della mobilità, disoccupazione, nuova povertà: questo l'orizzonte che riguarda drammaticamente un'intera generazione, da Londra a Roma.

È lo stesso orizzonte, occorre ricordarlo, che ha incendiato la Tunisia e l'Egitto. Migliaia di giovani neo-diplomati o neo-laureati, poveri e privi di futuro, hanno deciso di ribellarsi, contro un potere corrotto e parassitario. La grande rivoluzione democratica che ha investito l'altra sponda del Mediterraneo, parla di problemi non troppo dissimili da quelli che abbiamo cominciato ad affrontare con forza nelle piazze italiane in autunno. Una stessa logica informa la dismissione dell'università pubblica e la corruzione politica, il blocco democratico e la precarietà. Lottare per un'altra università significa, inevitabilmente, lottare per una nuova democrazia, lottare per un nuova democrazia significa imporre nuovi diritti sociali e redistribuzione della ricchezza.

Per questi motivi, per saldare la questione sociale e quella democratica, nell'arco di tutto l'autunno abbiamo chiesto a più riprese alla CGIL la convocazione di uno sciopero generale, momento indispensabile per mettere in connessione tutti conflitti, da quelli sulla formazione a quelli sul lavoro, dalla rivendicazione del reddito alla difesa dei beni comuni. Uno spazio, quello dello sciopero generale, in grado di potenziare, se adeguatamente sfruttato, le capacità di ciascuno e produrre un'orizzonte comune di proposta politica. Per questo ci sentiamo di accogliere appieno l'appello apparso sulle colonne del manifesto (sabato 12 marzo) dal titolo Uniti per lo sciopero e di rilanciare, ospitando l'assemblea del 25 marzo all'Università la Sapienza, presso l'aula 1 di Lettere, a partire dalle ore 16. Perché pensiamo che lo sciopero generale possa essere una grande occasione per far crescere le mobilitazioni per i diritti, rilanciare le lotte di tutti ‒non come semplice sommatoria, bensì come moltiplicazione di energie e specificità capace di intercettare la grande domanda di nuova democrazia che attraversa il Paese ‒, per continuare ad immaginare e costruire il nostro futuro!

quinta-feira, março 24, 2011

The Hague (NL): Stop the cuts in education!

In defiance of the 20,000 students who protested at the Malieveld last January, the government is pushing through its planned budgets cuts that will gravely impact education. Whole disciplines will disappear, professors will be laid off, higher education will be cut by 370 million, and the MBO by 170 million. Post-graduate studies will be financially out of reach for many, scholarships and free public transport will be abolished for Masters students, and ‘delayed’ students will be fined 3000 euro each year.

The consequences are clear: shorter, lower quality education for a higher price. Now is the time to put a stop to these plans. Education is so much more then an “investment in yourself”.

It’s a right!

Preventing budget cuts on education does NOT mean that social security, housing, art and integration courses should have to bear the extra burden. There is enough money, It is simply indefensible that social security is being cut across the board, even though the economy is recovering. Meanwhile, top incomes are ever increasing, bailed-out banks are barely taxed and billions are being spent on unpopular military projects. It’s time to get the message across. Demand quality education, for youtself and your fellow students.

quarta-feira, março 23, 2011

Common Knowledge Against Financial Capitalism

Call for Rise Up!
24th-25th-26th of March, 2011
We, the student and precarious workers of Europe and all around the world met in Paris over the weekend of the 11th-13th of February, 2011 to discuss and organize a common network based on our common struggles. Our name is Knowledge Liberation Front, and we're your crisis!

In fact, over the last few years our movement has assumed Europe as the space of conflicts against the corporatization of the university and precariousness. This meeting in Paris and the revolutionary movements across the Mediterranean allow us to take an important step towards a new Europe against austerity, starting from the revolts in Maghreb.

We are a generation who lives precariousness as a permanent condition: the university is no longer an elevator of upward social mobility but rather a factory of precariousness. Nor is the university a closed community: our struggles for a new welfare, against precarity and for the free circulation of knowledge and people don’t stop at its gates.

Our common network is based on our struggles against the Bologna Process and against the education cuts Europe is using as a response to the crisis.
Since the state and private interests collaborate in the corporatization process of the university, our struggles don’t have the aim of defending the status quo. Governments bail out banks and cut education. We want to make our own university – a university that lives in our experiences of autonomous education, alternative research and free schools. It is a free university, run by students, precarious workers and migrants, a university without borders.

We have created and improved our common claims: free access to the university against increasing fees and costs of education, new welfare and common rights against debt and the financialization of our lives, and for an education based on cooperation against competition and hierarchies.

So we, Knowledge Liberation Front, call for common and transnational days of action on the 24th-25th-26th of March, 2011: against banks, debt system and austerity measures, for free education and free circulation of people and knowledge.

Make actions, make autonomy, make our university: make capitalism history!

Join the Knowledge Liberation Front: Fighting and cooperating, this is our Common!

terça-feira, março 22, 2011

Student debt is a work issue, and an issue for workers because…

Schoolwork is work; it is the source of an enormous amount of new knowledge, wealth and social creativity, supposedly benefiting ‘society’ but in reality providing a source of capital accumulation (extracting profit from labour). Being asked to pay for education is in fact paying twice, once with work, and once with money (or debt). In both these actions students’ relationships to capital are reproduced: they are simultaneously producer and consumer, and are therefore doubly bound. To view the work that students do on their courses as without value is a mistake; they are producing something very valuable to their society: themselves as more productive workers and more predictable consumers.

Students compete for multiple jobs (often precariously) to repay or attempt to avoid loans. Debt, or a body of indebted students, has a downwardly competitive impact on labour markets, wage demands, and labour rights.

Skills accreditation – HND, Degree, etc – is posed as indispensable for obtaining employment. The decision to take on debt cannot be treated as an individual choice. Paying for one’s education is a toll imposed on workers in exchange for the possibility, not even the certainty, of employment. In this sense, it is a collective wage-cut. It shifts the costs of socially necessary education on to the workers themselves, forcing workers to take on more of the cost of their reproduction (their ability to reproduce themselves as ‘wage-workers’), at a time when tremendous transnational competition exists in the labour market.

Debt enforces ‘work-discipline’: representing a way of mortgaging many workers’ and their families’ futures, constraining decisions of which jobs and wages they can seek, and undermining their ability to resist exploitation and/or to fight for better conditions.

Student debt is part of a growing debt market. Debt in general is constructed to humiliate and isolate the debtor yet is clearly a struggle that involves subjects other than students. Accepting student debt is, for all those who work, accepting defeat.

Student debt, like all debt, acts as a mechanism of social control. Debt is a form of education that trains the indentured.

terça-feira, março 15, 2011

1.200 Parents and Students Rally Against Governor Cuomo’s $1.5 Billion in Education Cuts

1200 parents and students from across the state were joined by elected officials, clergy, teachers and community organizations in a rally against the proposal by Governor Cuomo to enact $1.5 billion in cuts to schools combined with $4.6 billion in tax cuts for wealthy New Yorkers. The rally, at the Albany Armory, was followed by a march to the Capitol and Legislative Office Building and lobby visits with legislators. Governor Cuomo’s cuts are the largest ever proposed in the history of New York State, the tax cuts for the state’s highest income earners are supported by the Senate Republican Majority as well as the Governor. Polls show that three-quarters of New Yorkers oppose the education cuts and two-thirds of New Yorkers oppose tax cuts for high income earners. If the cuts are enacted, schools across the state will need to get rid of thousands of teachers, guidance counselors and librarians, cut arts, sports, music, college and career prep courses and basic educational services.

domingo, março 06, 2011

12 mil universitários recorreram a empréstimos

Desde 2007, 12 mil alunos universitários recorreram a empréstimos bancários dos nove bancos que oferecem este serviço. Em três anos, dois dos maiores bancos emprestaram 128,5 milhões de euros.
Os cortes nas bolsas de acção social são um dos motivos que levam os estudantes universitários a recorrer a empréstimos bancários, para não terem de desistir dos cursos.

O «DN» apurou que a Caixa Geral de Depósitos já ajudou 8.200 alunos e o Santander financiou os estudos de 3.400 universitários, representando 83% do mercado nacional destes empréstimos, num total de 128,5 milhões de euros emprestados.

Este sistema de empréstimos, criado em 2007, é uma parceria de vários bancos com o Ministério da Ciência, Tecnologia e Ensino Superior.

quinta-feira, março 03, 2011

The Wisconsin Idea

They have filled Madison's Capitol Square and spilled down State Street, a sea of Wisconsin Badger red.

They have jammed the Capitol rotunda, remaining around the clock, dozing on hard marble floors in sleeping bags, testifying before the Assembly, and transforming the beautiful Capitol building into a house of the people.

They have let it be known that they consider the right to a union essential to democracy and that they reject Republican Gov. Scott Walker's plan to end collective bargaining for local, county, and state public employees on all issues apart from wages—including pensions, health insurance, and working conditions.

They are still at it, numbering in the tens of thousands, with 70,000 participating in the largest two demonstrations to date. Sons, daughters, husbands, wives, friends, neighbors, students: Wisconsin's public has turned out en masse on behalf of the state's public workers.

What significance do these Wisconsin developments hold?

First, as the largest American labor action in the new century, the activity in Wisconsin is setting an example for a rebirth of labor sentiment after decades of setbacks. A spontaneous outpouring of community opinion, the Wisconsin upsurge recalls the epoch when unions were not stigmatized as special interests but widely understood to express the interests of ordinary people.

Second, this is the first time in the Great Recession that a nationwide protest movement has materialized that does not reflect the agenda of Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh. Not only has the Wisconsin movement emerged spontaneously, from below, in contrast to Fox News's relentless touting of the Tea Parties, but it also represents a rebellion directly opposed to the agenda that tipped the national conversation far to the right in the early years of the Obama administration. This is another kind of populism.

Read the full text...What accounts for so stunning a development? A unique confluence: the crystalline clarity with which the issue of labor rights has been posed in Wisconsin, the stirring international context of democratic revolution, and a strong sense that the proposed change would eviscerate Wisconsin tradition.

In a shrewd move, the two leading Wisconsin public employees' unions, in deference to a climate of fiscal discipline, pledged to accept every pay and benefit cut the governor proposed. That left one disputed point and one only: the right to bargain collectively.

To strip most public workers of bargaining rights, as Walker desires, would constitute the most significant rollback of labor protection in the United States in decades. One might think such a prospect would create a sour mood. But the Wisconsin throngs have exhibited only buoyant Midwestern conviction in the pleasant surprise of finding one's instincts confirmed by a sudden torrent of humanity. They have politely picked up their own trash. They have laughed and chatted with the police.

It is no accident that the democratic uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt were the immediate backdrop to the immense show of support for workers' rights in Madison. This international example recalls 1848, the year Wisconsin's first state constitution was adopted, when Europe's republican-democratic "springtime of peoples" inspired the first women's-rights convention at Seneca Falls, N.Y. The Mideast's balm to Midwestern spirits has been a source of sustenance and humor. "Mubarak for Governor," read one euphoric sign.

The crowds in red, as in the old Bangles song, are walking like an Egyptian. But they are also engaging in something we haven't seen on this scale in a very long time: a dignified outpouring of a whole American community on behalf of labor. The events of late February are a striking example of what the English labor historian E.P. Thompson called "customs in common," the web of shared traditions whose violation can propel people into the streets.

Custom in this case is the Wisconsin Idea, a notion that sometimes refers to the relationship between university and state but has a richer and more resonant history tracing to the state's pioneering Progressive tradition. Its personification was the Republican Robert M. La Follette, who served as congressman, governor, and senator between the 1880s and 1920s. Through direct primaries, voter recall, civil-service standards, corporate taxation, regulation, and expert policy counsel from university scholars (rather than, say, corporate lobbyists)—a set of reforms together known as the Wisconsin Idea—La Follette sought to deal with what he called "the problems of vast financial power in private hands" on behalf of "the common man­—the worker, the farmer."

It has been a very long time since a Republican senator from Wisconsin has said, as did La Follette, "The only salvation for the Republican Party lies in purging itself wholly from the influence of financial interests." But Madison is a capital city filled with public employees who take pride in the knowledge that Wisconsin was, in 1959, the first state to recognize public workers' collective-bargaining rights. The Wisconsin Idea—a classroom staple of the very schoolteachers whose labor rights are now threatened—has been given new life by the multitudes chanting, "This is what democracy looks like."

Those who have been peopling ("occupying" is not quite the right word) the Wisconsin Capitol represent a remarkable diversity of professions and callings: corrections officers, graduate teaching assistants, letter carriers, carpenters, steelworkers, and students. This array cuts against the teaching of Selig Perlman, an eminent labor scholar who taught at the University of Wisconsin in the 1920s, who held that American workers were only capable of "job consciousness," not class consciousness. Perlman would be surprised to see the firefighters marching in uniform, bagpipes playing—even though Walker exempted them, along with most police officers, from the bill's worst provisions.

In an equally arresting development, many school-board and county officials, although they might have been expected to welcome the prospect of weakened unions, have warned that the governor's proposed dismantling of labor rights might mean a return to the disruption of basic services from strikes, as happened often in the era before collective bargaining.

The recent weeks of action haven't seen strikes, exactly, but they have been propelled by a mass exodus from work. When Madison teachers called a "sick out," a judge declined to issue an injunction against them on the basis that they were not violating their contractual obligation not to strike because they made no demands upon the school district and were instead protesting before the state government. Richard Trumka, president of the AFL-CIO, promised when visiting Madison that on whatever day the measure is signed into law, "We will be in the streets."

Whether the bill can be stopped remains to be seen. It has already passed the GOP-controlled Assembly. Meanwhile, all of Wisconsin's 14 Democratic state senators have fled across state lines to Illinois, preventing a quorum and halting legislative action to bide time so as to persuade three out of the 19 Republican state senators to vote against the measure.

Wisconsin's GOP, however, is no longer La Follette's. The Progressive temper, once stiffened by competition with Milwaukee's Socialists, was interrupted by the ascendance of Sen. Joseph McCarthy of Wisconsin and, much later, the New Right. Moderate Republicans still exist in Wisconsin, but independent-minded legislators will be threatened with hard-right primary opposition if they strike a compromise.

Quite apart from the legislation's fate, it remains to be seen whether the GOP will have overreached in its aggressive push against labor rights.

Wisconsin is a red state only in the Badger sense. The state went Democratic in the last three presidential elections. Its governor, Senate, and Assembly were Democratic-controlled until 2010, when all three branches of state government shifted to Republican in the context of hard times and heavy spending. In the same election, the maverick liberal Sen. Russ Feingold was unseated by ultraconservative Ron Johnson. But the 2010 results in Wisconsin, as elsewhere, were not an endorsement of Republican ideology so much as a referendum on the economy. Governor Walker, who promised hundreds of thousands of new jobs, made no mention of any attack on collective-bargaining rights, often valued by conservative white working-class voters.

Conservative commentators like Amity Shlaes suggest that long-term advantages accrue to politicians who confront public workers, as proved by Calvin Coolidge, who took on Boston's striking police as Massachusetts governor in 1919, and Ronald Reagan, who destroyed the federal air-traffic controllers' union in 1981.

But this is a story line very different from Coolidge's or Reagan's. Polls indicate that Wisconsin's governor is increasingly unpopular in the wake of the legislative standoff and demonstrations. It was Walker's provocative bill, not a strike, that initiated the crisis. Will the right's claim to populism continue to persuade Midwestern working-class voters after the present spate of proposals to dismantle public workers' collective-bargaining rights?

Already there are signs that in some states, such as Ohio, the GOP has felt it necessary to backpedal from the most severe elements of its offensive against public workers. Meanwhile, Wisconsin protesters have retained their Midwestern whimsy, resolve, and optimism. "Walker is a Weasel, not a Badger," read one sign. Another: "I skipped school today so I can learn about tomorrow."

Wisconsin's public workers and their allies are advancing a reconfigured Wisconsin Idea: that the already precarious middle class should not be destroyed and that labor rights are essential to democracy.

Will the nation reciprocate, as it once did in the Progressive Era?