quinta-feira, outubro 20, 2011

Outstanding student loans to top $1 trillion [@USA]

Americans now have more student debt than they owe on their credit cards. U.S. students took out more than $100 billion in loans last year, a figure that will push the total amount of outstanding student debt above the $1-trillion mark this year for the first time ever.
Those were among the most depressing figures in a rather depressing new report from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, which USA Today dives into. To put the $1-trillion figure into some perspective, that total means that Americans now owe more in student loans than they do on their credit cards.

Even when adjusting for inflation, students are borrowing at roughly twice what they did a decade ago, and total outstanding debt has doubled in the past five years alone, the data shows. Full-time undergrads borrowed an average of $4,953 in 2010, a 63-percent jump from the previous decade even when inflation is factored in.

USA Today spoke to several student loan experts and observers, none of whom sugarcoated what the numbers mean. "Students who borrow too much end up delaying life-cycle events such as buying a car, buying a home, getting married [and] have children", said Mark Kantrowitz, a publisher of FinAid.org. Nick Pardini, a finance grad student at Villanova who blogs on the topic, went one better: "It's going to create a generation of wage slavery".

segunda-feira, abril 25, 2011

Meeting of the Balkans students

Last weekend, the city of Skopje hosted a daring meeting which included students from different universities from around the Balkans. Responding to the call of “Sloboden Indeks” (hosts of this meeting) activists from different groups including “Sindikat Obrazovanja ASI” (Belgrade), ”Studentski Glas” (Sofia), “n’Solidaritet” (Prishtina) and “Nezavisna Studentska Iniciativa” (Belgrade) have come together to discuss the problems which their struggle faces in their native countries. Higher education, one of the greatest victims in the process of aggressive implementation of neo-liberal trends in Balkan, has collapsed due to reforms where “knowledge and education is distributed as any other product”.

International Student Movement – Balkan Meeting is a meeting between Balkan student movements that fight for free and emancipatory education that is endangered by the Bologna Process, diminishing autonomy of the university to state and economic powers and high fees among other things. This is the first serious attempt towards coordination between the groups, which means coordination in actions, information sharing and most important working under the same ideology in full solidarity with one another. “The important goal of the meeting was to create a unified platform which all the individuals and groups who identify with, can join in the struggle”.

“Balkan Student” (network’s official name from now on) sees today’s universities as a mere “factories” of producing cheap technical labor force with no knowledge and critical thinking whatsoever. The future actions will fight these occurrences and will propagate the idea of the publicly funded and autonomous free university that is free from any political and economical influences, with the students and professors organized on the principles of direct democracy.

The first Balkan Student meeting was held from 16th to 18th of April 2011 and it was supposed to end with a public discussion on the subject of “student self-organizing” at the University “Sv. Kiril i Metodij” in Skopje. The student network has announced its next meeting in Belgrade at the beginning of the next academic year and actions that are soon to follow.

sexta-feira, abril 22, 2011

Liberation Without Borders Tour: 13th of May

From Rebel Universities to the Tunisian Uprising
Last 11th-13th of February, during the transnational meeting in Paris promoted and participated by hundreds of activists, groups and networks that are struggling against precarization, austerity policies and cuts to education, Tunisian activists proposed a great meeting in Tunisia. The project immediately became a central issue in the construction of the Knowledge Liberation Front, because a new Europe begins from the Maghreb revolution. The 13th of May we will leave the European universities in struggle to transgress European borders and unite our conflicts with the uprisings on the other shore of the Mediterranean Sea, because they are our uprisings.

The activists in Tunis who have been organizing the meeting since mid February are extremely clear about its content: let’s not call this initiative a caravan because we have no need for help or simple solidarity, concepts that often hide traces of colonial charity, and because we are perfectly able to do the revolution without teachers. Moreover, they have added over the last weeks, what we see arriving labeled as “humanitarian” from the other shore of the Mediterranean are bombs and war. Instead, we need your struggles to unite the two shores of the Mediterranean through conflict and social transformation, to oust all tyrants – from Ben Ali to the tyrants of the financial capitalism.

This is the reason why activists, students and precarious workers of the Knowledge Liberation Front will go to Tunisia since the 13th of May: to learn. We will go to Tunisia to understand and to do militant inquiry, because the insurgent composition – highly educated young people and unemployed or precarious workers impoverished by the crisis, a system that produces corruption, women reclaiming and acting out their liberty, people who want to live and move without borders – has common characteristics with the European movements revolting against austerity and the cuts to education and welfare. We will go to Tunisia to bring our experiences and discuss, starting from the transnational common days of action against banks and the financial capitalism of the 24th-25th-26th of March. We will go to Tunisia to build relations and not to follow media events. We will go to Tunisia to organize together against a war run against the women and men who are rebelling in the North Africa: it is not against Gaddafi, who has always been a faithful ally of the Western powers in the war against migrants, but against the revolution. We will go to Tunisia to fight, together, against European borders and for the free circulation of people and knowledge. We will go to Tunisia to make Tunisia our university. Without aesthetics of revolt or the ambiguous veils of humanitarian causes and supposed solidarity, we want to learn what it means today, in Europe, to do as has been done in Tunisia.

The 13th of May we take only the first step: we want to build up a process and carry out concrete projects and, together with Tunisian activists, call for another great initiative in the next few months. For this reason, we will go to Tunisia cooperating with a delegation of activists involved in the NoBorder network, to claim freedom without borders. Because the real “caravan” will be towards Europe: following the migrants’ practices of liberty and the teachings of the Tunisian uprising, we want to liberate ourselves from all the tyrants.

sexta-feira, abril 08, 2011

Toronto Univ. students protest Munk donation

About 100 University of Toronto students and a handful of professors staged a noisy demonstration Thursday to protest a donation from philanthropist Peter Munk they fear could lead to corporate meddling in campus research.
They were joined briefly by American intellectual Noam Chomsky who had been speaking at Hart House on the growing privatization of universities. Chomsky addressed the crowd outside stately Simcoe Hall where the Governing Council was conducting business. He repeated concerns over the growing corporate influence on universities, and called for free tuition as a way to open the door for students of all economic backgrounds.

The protesters were opposing Munk’s $35 million gift last year for a new school of global affairs, which they claimed is tainted by allegations that Munk’s international gold mining operations are guilty of pollution and human rights violations.

They managed to work their way to outside the council chambers where they pounded on drums and chanted “Munk’s a skunk” in an attempt to disrupt the meeting.

“We don’t want Munk’s money affiliated with the university and we fear it could push a right-wing agenda and shut down academic freedom,” warned first-year student Juan Carlos Jimenez of the Anti-Corporatization Working Group, a subgroup of the U of T General Assembly coalition. “His mines in South America and Tanzania have been accused of human rights abuses and environmental violations — will it really fund research that would investigate these charges?” said Jimenez.

The donation by Munk, chairman of Barrick Gold, is to create the Munk School of Global Affairs, a professional school born out of the Munk Centre for International Studies, a think tank that does not grant degrees. Munk’s gift came with a $25-million boost from the provincial government. One of the first degrees will be a two-year Master of Global Affairs, to be housed in a heritage building being renovated at Bloor St. and Devonshire Place.

quarta-feira, abril 06, 2011

Administrate This! 19th of April @ Nottingham

On April the 18th -20th the Association of University Administrators will be meeting in Nottingham to discuss the future of Higher Education in the UK. As the government’s plans to lift the cap on tuition fees to £9.000 is exploited by a cartel of administrations to monopolise high-end university education, the minister for universities, David Willetts, keynote speaker at the AUA conference, reassures us that the cuts in funding and the raises in fees will be ‘progressive’. The same ‘Honourable Gentleman’ tries to divide us by blaming women’s struggle for equality for the problems that big business and career politicians have created for working-class men. In order to defend and advance the cause of education in this country over business managers and privilege, and to show that we won’t be divided by patriarchal logic, we invite you to the following:
Meet at the Lakeside Arts Centre, University Of Nottingham, University Park, Nottingham NG7 2RD at 12:00 on the 19th of April.

We will march on the conference to challenge David Willetts’ destructive policies and patriarchal logic, and those who enable the savage cuts and fees he promotes. There will be a feminist bloc.

Bring placards, banners, and the noise. Speakers from anti-cuts campaigns across the country and Women Against Cuts TBA.
As a response to a conference which charges at minimum £99 for one day’s access, we will be hosting a free camp at a location (to be disclosed nearer the time) near the conference in Nottingham. Join us in camping over- bring a tent and camping equipment with you!

The camp will last from the 19th-20th and hold workshops and discussions with activists and academics on the topics including: Anti-Oppression; Gender and The Cuts; Zombie Universities; Protest Tactics, Strategies, and Direct Action; Capitalism and Beyond; There will also be food, a kids space, music, performance, and art!

At the AUA conference, Willetts will speak to an audience of Vice-Chancellors, Registrars and other administrative staff and encourage them to support his policies. These are the same staff who blithely cut departments, intimidate lower-paid academic staff, and exploit support workers in the name of the cuts. Yet vice-chancellors and management refuse to take a cut in salary, despite earning well over £150,000 a year. It is not a question of whether one or many wolves tear apart education, whether the government or the university administrations promote cuts and commercialization, it is a matter of us building alternatives and taking action.


See you there,
Nottingham Students against Fees and Cuts

terça-feira, abril 05, 2011

Juventud SIN Futuro . ES

Nosotras y nosotros, la juventud sin futuro, nos dirigimos a la opinión pública para mostrar nuestro desacuerdo con la política de recortes sociales del Gobierno, y la consecuencia más grave y con mayor impacto en el futuro que estas medidas representan: la juventud más preparada de nuestra historia vivirá peor que sus padres.

La agresión contra el colectivo juvenil en un escenario de crisis capitalista, con una tasa de paro juvenil del 40%, la más alta de la UE, se materializa principalmente en tres medidas:
  • La Reforma laboral, que aumenta la temporalidad de nuestros contratos, la flexibilidad laboral y supone la desaparición de la negociación colectiva, convirtiéndonos en trabajadores precarios/as de por vida
  • La Reforma del sistema de pensiones, que retrasa la edad de jubilación y reduce la cuantía de nuestras futuras pensiones y nos dificulta aún más encontrar un trabajo digno. Todo ello nos plantea un horizonte sin futuro
  • La mercantilización de la Educación pública, que apuesta por la rentabilidad privada, y no por la formación y el conocimiento. Una universidad de élite para una minoría y fábrica de precarios para una mayoría, con medidas que se concretan en una nueva selectividad que pone trabas al acceso a la universidad y en la degradación de la formación profesional.
Somos las y los jóvenes a quienes las élites económicas y las políticas de nuestros gobiernos nos quieren convertir en la generación sin formación ni trabajo ni pensión digna. Aquellos que, además, no tendremos casa en nuestra vida, desde que los especuladores hicieron del derecho a la vivienda un negocio con el que enriquecerse; un modelo de crecimiento económico que ha fracasado y ha generado esta crisis. Hemos tomado conciencia de que las medidas de salida a la crisis económica se han realizado a través de una constante socialización de las pérdidas.

Frente a la salida de la crisis por la derecha, nosotras y nosotros, la generación precaria, señalamos a los culpables y reivindicamos ser escuchados.

Queremos recuperar nuestra capacidad para ser actores de un motor de cambio, combatiendo un país de precariedad, desempleo y privatización de nuestra educación. Somos además conscientes de que la movilización y la lucha tienen sentido, pero sobre todo de que son necesarias. Italia, Francia, Grecia o Islandia nos enseñan que la movilización es indispensable. El mundo árabe nos demuestra que la victoria es posible.

Por eso llamamos a un ciclo de movilizaciones que recuperen la voz de la juventud en la calle, y lo hacemos extensivo a la sociedad civil. Nosotras no nos fiamos, sabemos que esto sólo lo solucionamos sin los que causaron esta crisis. Instamos a emprender la movilización colectiva, a reivindicar nuestro derecho a disentir, a reconstruir nuestro futuro.

Los abajo firmantes, estudiantes y miembros de la comunidad educativa, jóvenes trabajadoras y jóvenes trabajadores, movimientos sociales, profesionales de la ciencia, la técnica; mundo de la cultura y de las artes dan respaldo con su firma a este llamamiento a la movilización.

«Nos habéis quitado demasiado, ahora lo queremos todo»

segunda-feira, abril 04, 2011

The Occupation Cookbook or the Model of the Occupation of the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences in Zagreb (Croatia)

Excerpt from Marc Bousquet, "Introduction":

The Occupation Cookbook is a "manual" that describes the organization of the student occupation of the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences that took place in the spring of 2009 and lasted for 35 days. It was written for two reasons: to record what happened, and to present the particular organization of this action in such a way that it may be of use to other activists and members of various collectives if they decide to undertake a similar action.

What does it mean to "occupy" a school? A school occupation is not, as the corporate media like to portray it, a hostile takeover. A school occupation is an action by those who are already its inhabitants - students, faculty, and staff - and those for whom the school exists. (Which is to say for a public institution, the public itself.) The actions termed "occupations" of a public institution, then, are really re-occupations, a renovation and reopening to the public of a space long captured and stolen by the private interests of wealth and privilege. The goal of this renovation and reopening is to inhabit school spaces as fully as possible, to make them truly habitable - to make the school a place fit for living.
The Occupation Cookbook