Students have been occupying the Cooper Union clock tower since Monday and 11 students are still locked-down! Today at 2pm come join Cooper students, faculty, OWS, All in The Red, US Uncut, and others to show your support for the right to education.
Students for a Free Cooper Union issued the following communique on Dec. 3rd:
Students for a Free Cooper Union lock-in to Cooper Union’s Foundation Building to preserve free education
We, the Students for a Free Cooper Union, in solidarity with the global student struggle and today’s Day of Action, have locked ourselves into The Peter Cooper Suite on the top floor of Cooper Union’s Foundation Building. This action is in response to the lack of transparency and accountability that has plagued this institution for decades and now threatens the college’s mission of free education.
We have reclaimed this space from the administration, whom we believe is leading the college in the wrong direction. In recent years, plans to expand Cooper Union with tuition-based, revenue generating educational programs have threatened the college’s landmarked tradition of “free education to all.” These programs are intended to grow the college out of a financial deficit caused by decades of administrative mismanagement. We believe that such programs are a departure from Cooper Union’s historic mission and will corrupt the college’s role as an ethical model for higher education. To secure this invaluable opportunity for future generations, we have taken the only recourse available to us.
We will hold this space until action has been taken to meet the following demands:
1) The administration must publicly affirm the college’s commitment to free education. They will stop pursuing new tuition-based educational programs and eliminate other ways in which students are charged for education.
2) The Board of Trustees must immediately implement structural changes with the goal of creating open flows of information and democratic decision-making structures. The administration’s gross mismanagement of the school cannot be reversed within the same systems which allowed the crisis to occur. To this end, we have outlined actions that the board must take
Record board meetings and make minutes publicly available.
Appoint a student and faculty member from each school as voting members of the board.
Implement a process by which board members may be removed through a vote from the Cooper Union community, comprised of students, faculty, alumni, and administrators.
3) President Bharucha steps down.
Higher Education Bubble
The over-inflated costs of higher education have placed more than a trillion dollars of debt onto the backs of students. Higher education should be a means of social mobility and intellectual liberation, but it has devolved into an industry that exploits students for profit. Inevitably this bubble will burst and what appears to be a healthy and growing educational system will be revealed as a model that was always doomed to fail.
The administrators who have grown us into this mess are trying to grow us out of it. Investing in the higher education bubble is short-sighted and uncreative. Playing a larger role in one’s community provides strong roots. If we refuse to invest in a growth model and reaffirm our mission, we stand to see the principles of free education bring life back to our own community and other institutions as well.
Structures for Transparency and Integrity
Bloated and visionless administrations have become an epidemic threatening institutions of higher education all across America. We must rebuild the governance of these institutions with open flows of information and democratic decision-making structures. Carrying a mission such as free education will require principled, rather than self-sustaining, leadership.
On October seventeenth (O17), a group of about 10 occupiers gathered outside 15 Central Park West, the address of Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein’s multi-million dollar condo. Occupy Goldman Sachs was born. In the model of sleepful protests, they set up camp across from the building’s main gate. They brought sleeping bags, signs, food, cameras...and have not left the area since.
It’s now been over 40 days, and they are going strong. They have bounced around the building, to keep the NYPD on their toes and avoid bad weather. Arrests have been minimal and outreach has been phenomenal. The support from the neighborhood has been extremely positive, people are constantly stopping by with words of support and encouragement.
They decided as a unit to hold the space through Hurricane Sandy, and immediately after, people from the site were out in the many areas affected by the storm doing relief work. The site now doubles as an Occupy Sandy info hub, providing information on how to volunteer and donate to the high levels of foot traffic. The main location is at the corner of 61st St. and Broadway, deliciously across from a Chase Bank.
A report by Strike Debt on the disaster wrought by Hurricane Sandy and the government’s response. This is a preliminary and living public service document that highlights the use of loans as the main form of assistance to help those affected better understand the choices being imposed on them. You are not a loan!
This report is a preliminary and living document highlighting the economic effects of Hurricane Sandy on New York City. It examines how the use of loans as the main form of “aid” to disaster-impacted communities is not effective at addressing individual or community needs. Further, the use of loans may lead to disastrous longer- term economic consequences for the impacted communities.
Although Hurricane Sandy was the first “Frankenstorm” to hit New York City, in recent years climate disasters have become a regular sight on the evening news. From Hurricanes Katrina and Irene to Midwestern droughts and wildfires in the Southwest, many communities are facing these types of crises all across the country. As our climate has changed, the burden of the cost of disaster has also been shifting. Individuals are now expected to shoulder relief expenses that used to be shared publicly. Victims are faced with long-term, unexpected economic consequences as well as displacement from the communities they call home.
This report was compiled based on observations made at a community meeting in Midland Beach, Staten Island on November 18, 2012, as well as on interviews with Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and Small Business Association (SBA) representatives, legal assistance volunteers, volunteer relief workers, local business owners and community members throughout New York City. Data was drawn from newspaper articles, statements from advocacy organizations and official reports.
The economic costs of the disaster are placed on individuals. Federal aid programs require victims to first apply for loans before qualifying to apply for FEMA aid.
“Aid” programs favor those who can take on debt. Preexisting inequalities are further exacerbated by this form of aid.
Federal programs are inflexible and fail to meet even basic needs of affected individuals and communities.
Relief options are not clearly communicated or well understood. Policies are so complex that even lawyers are confused and are “learning as they go.”
Mold is at a crisis level. Residents will not receive FEMA aid to pay for the mold remediation necessary to make their properties even temporarily livable.
Urgent Call To Action And Bloomberg’s Stealth Visit To An Occupy Sandy Relief Distribution Hub In The Rockaways
New York City’s billionaire mayor, Michael Bloomberg, stepped out of a helicopter midday Thursday in St. Camillus’ parking lot, ironically an Occupy Sandy relief distribution hub in the Rockaways, Queens. The visit had been kept under wraps and not listed on his official schedule. Watch this video, read the statement, and stay informed and pledge your support for the communities most affected by Sandy that are still in dire need! We are planning a day of action on December 15th. Join us!
Bloomberg and a small party accompanying him were whisked off in black cars. He missed a greeting from community members in an area still reeling from Hurricane Sandy, with quickly-lettered signs: “Rockaways in Health Crisis,” “We Need Safer Housing.” Bloomberg made his way to the still-shuttered offices of The Wave, the Rockaways weekly newspaper. As word spread about the stealth visit, a crowd gathered outside hoping to explain those signs to the mayor: a month after Sandy hit, swamping homes with seawater, many residents—homeowners and tenants—are still living without electricity, without heat, without working appliances, with black mold taking hold of walls and other surfaces. Temporary housing is desperately needed, absentee landlords must fix their properties.
The mayor emerged behind a row of police, thanked the group, and was quickly driven away—avoiding a repeat of his November 4 visit when residents lambasted him for ignoring them.
THE CRISIS AND STATEMENT
Hurricane Sandy is an ongoing tragedy that for many people is only getting worse.
Residents, community organizations and city, state, and federal agencies must come together to address the IMMEDIATE crisis that is worsening as the weather gets colder.
A month after Hurricane Sandy, thousands remain without electricity, heat, water, healthy food, basic healthcare, adequate housing, or even temporary shelter.
Here is a statement from a group of individuals and residents who have been working in the affected communities with Occupy Sandy:
Long before Sandy hit, New York City already ranked high for homelessness. Now, tens of thousands of New Yorkers have been displaced, while many more are living in unsafe, moldy houses. Many NYCHA residents have been forced to pay full rent while having no heat and, in some cases, no water or electricity for weeks.
There should be an immediate housing plan that addresses their needs; it would include: extending the NYCHA rent credit to cover November and December to account for lost wages and the storm’s true impact; providing sufficient federal disaster relief funding to NYCHA, and employing NYCHA residents for building repairs instead of outsourcing jobs.
A recent census found 2,489 vacancies in 20 City Council districts that could house 200,000 people. In Far Rockaway, there are 384 lots that could be used to set up housing for 31,696 people immediately, keeping families close to their community networks. The City of New York should seize this opportunity to set a global precedent that would address both the immediate crisis as well as create housing for the tens of thousands who were homeless before the storm.
The storm has compounded an already existing health crisis in NYC. Now, families are living in unsafe homes, there is not enough access to primary care physicians, mental health practitioners and health care facilities in affected communities, and it has become even more difficult for those in impacted areas to access healthy food.
FEMA and Red Cross should work with volunteer healthcare infrastructures to set up more clinics to dispense necessary prescriptions and trauma counseling, and should direct money toward supplying healthy food to those in need — instead of canned goods, military rations, and other food high in sodium.
3) SAFETY NET SERVICES
Workers are being or have been deducted pay from jobs they cannot physically get to, many are unaware of FEMA benefits and deadlines, and private insurers are denying many claims. The Red Cross should dedicate some of its Sandy recovery funds to public information campaigns that inform employers and employees of their rights and what services are available. FEMA should be out canvassing neighborhoods with interpreters in order to ensure that all individuals impacted by the storm know their rights. FEMA should also organize weekly or twice weekly mass mailings for a minimum of four weeks, distributing leaflets in multiple languages, notifying people of available assistance and pertinent deadlines.
Already many residents are being denied FEMA assistance because they have insurance while their insurance companies are denying claims. The Attorney General should immediately intervene on behalf of residents who are unable to make repairs and in danger of losing everything because of these discrepancies.
4) TRANSPARENCY AND COMMUNITY INCLUSION
The influx of relief money coming into the region provides an opportunity for healthy, environmentally sustainable rebuilding with the inclusion of communities and community-based organizations.
We call for a public task force to monitor the use of funds and create structures that encourage community participation to help sustainably rebuild NYC in a way that prepares for today’s environmental challenges.
STAY INFORMED AND TAKE ACTION
From the start, Occupy Wall Street has always been a disaster recovery effort propelled by the power of the people to rebuild a better future. We, along with our many allies, have been dedicated to more than just addressing economic inequality. We believed, and continue to believe, that New York City can reverse its role as the capitol of economic inequality, homelessness and corporate control over our democracy, and become a model for addressing the needs of its residents while promoting their dignity and ability to help shape our future.
In the wake of Hurricane Sandy, yet again we see both an opportunity and a threat. As Hurricane Katrina showed, moments of devastation and rebuilding can lead to the return of the status quo, or worse — gentrification, displacement and continued privatization of basic services and jobs.
We are dedicated to seeing that that does not happen here in New York City.
And we are dedicated to ensuring participation and transparency in this process.
We know another world is possible and we are committed to working with our neighbors to build it.
STAND WITH US!
We are planning a day of action on December 15th. To stay informed about this issue or to join us on the 15th, please fill out this form.
Today across Mexico, protesters (including participants from the #YoSoy132 movement and others) have taken to the streets to march against election fraud and the imposition of Enrique Peña Nieto as President on his inauguration day. Using the slogan "#MéxicoNOTienePresidente" (#MexicoHasNOPresident"), the protesters marched on Congress in Mexico City and were met with large squadrons of riot police, enormous barricades, rubber bullets, tear gas, and gas bombs. Reports claim approximately 30 people have been injured, several critically.
There have also been solidarity protests in cities across the world outside Mexico, including many planned for tonight in various U.S. cities. Today in NYC, YoSoy132-NY will gather at the Mexican Consulate at 5pm (leer en español). They invite Occupiers to join them.
Demonstration for an authentic democracy
Yosoy132NY summons Mexicans living in New York to participate in a demonstration outside the Mexican Consulate on Saturday, December 1, on the occasion of the inauguration of Enrique Peña Nieto as president of our country.
We will march toward genuine democracy for Mexico and against the current Mexican political system, understood as a set of political, economic, and social institutions set up to the benefit of a minority and facilitate the imposition of candidates such as Enrique Peña Nieto.
This system includes but is not limited to:
- The political party system that restricts citizens' access to power and inadequately represents their interests.
- The practices of corruption, impunity, repression, violation of freedom of expression, and patronage committed by the PRI for decades of its hegemonic rule, and adopted by the PAN, the PRD and the rest of the political parties.
- The manipulation of information, especially through the mass media.
Join and participate! You can contribute to change our country! Your voice counts!