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Retribution Against the Financial Elite

Articles tagged education


LIVE: Students Occupy Cooper Union President's Office

Posted 11 months ago on May 8, 2013, 2 p.m. EST by OccupyWallSt
Tags: student debt, cooper union, direct action, education


@FreeCooperUnion on Twitter

“This is a non-violent direct action, you are not being held in this room, you are free to exit when you please. We no longer recognize your presidency at Cooper as legitimate and in so doing we commit to re-claim this office in the interim until a suitable administrative alternative is secured."

Over 50 students have overtaken the office of Cooper Union President Jamshed Bharucha in response to the Administration and the Board of Trustees announcing the implementation of tuition for the incoming class of 2014- desecrating a 154 year old tradition of meritocracy and free education. "We stand together with the extended Cooper community in opposition to this decision; we reaffirm all of the previous and future actions of our fellow students and allies."

UPDATE: Cooper Union Students are calling for a Solidarity Rally Tonight at 6PM outside the Foundation Building at Cooper Square Park.

The students delivered a Statement of No Confidence from the School of Art, one of the three colleges that make up Cooper Union. Similar Statements of No Confidence are currently in the process of being drafted and voted upon by the School of Architecture and the School of Engineering.

On April 23, 2013, Cooper Union’s board of trustees announced that they will begin charging tuition, ending the university’s 144-year-old mission of providing free education to all those who merited entry. The decision was met with a united uproar of dissent from nearly all sectors of the university community, including students, faculty, and alumni. While it might seem counterintuitive to get behind a relatively small struggle at one of the most exclusive universities in the country—an old-fashioned meritocracy in a world in which a young person’s “potential” is directly proportionate to their family’s economic station—Cooper Union is by far the most diverse of all elite colleges: white students are a minority here and two-thirds of the student body attended public high schools.

Institutions funded by philanthropy and real estate earnings are clearly unsustainable as foundations for a quality education, but the school’s economic problems and its board’s regressive solutions mirror the situation currently taking place at countless other universities, both public and private. From CUNY tuition hikes to the torpedoing of Medgar Evers College to NYU’s unprecedented land grab, students across the city are fighting back. As student struggles continue across the globe, Cooper Union is a flashpoint for something much larger than itself.

Peter Cooper, the school’s founder, railed against the scourge of student debt a century and a half before the streets of Montreal exploded with resistance, before New York universities faced a string of militant occupations, before students in California put their bodies on the line against tuition hikes and the commodification of higher education. The ongoing fight at Cooper Union is but one part of the broader struggle against austerity, debt, and all other symptoms of capitalism.

On May 1, a 36-page mini-zine that serves as a postscript to last year’s Why is Cooper Union Being Occupied? was produced and distributed around the city. Collecting recent articles, editorials, and primary source documents, this basic update outlines the current situation at Cooper Union, at once a eulogy and a call for new resistance.

Download the PDF here, read online here, or come down to Cooper Union and pick up a hard copy.

For Live Updates, follow Free Cooper Union on UStream and Twitter

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Students for a #FreeCooperUnion Occupy to Preserve the Right to Education

Posted 1 year ago on Dec. 5, 2012, 11:48 a.m. EST by OccupyWallSt
Tags: occupation, education, student activism, austerity, nyc

cooper union building with banner reading Free Education To All

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.

For more information, you can also see their Facebook page, follow @FreeCooperUnion on Twitter (#CULockIn, #savecooper, #FreeCooperUnion) or go to http://www.cusos.org/.

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.

Principles

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.

Grow Down

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.

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Berkeley Students Occupy Campus Building To Defend Multicultural Education

Posted 1 year ago on Nov. 27, 2012, 10:35 p.m. EST by OccupyWallSt
Tags: uc-berkeley, education, occupy cal, student activism, austerity, california

banners dropped from occupied Cal building

via Reclaim UC:

Eshelman Hall Barricaded in Defense of Multicultural Student Spaces

This afternoon, a group of students barricaded themselves on the sixth floor of Eshelman Hall at UC Berkeley, reclaiming a building that has been designated for demolition and demanding that the Administration abandon plans to cut support for the recruitment and retention of students of color. At this point, a couple hundred supporters have gathered in lower Sproul Plaza, while the police have closed off the building. Those barricading the building are calling on supporters to gather at Eshelman in order to protect those inside and intensify the force of their resistance.

The demands:

  • We Demand that the Multicultural Student Development Offices be restored to their former structure by Vice Chancellor Gibor Basri. Countless students and the ASUC as an entity have voiced this opinion and received no changes.

  • We demand that the budget allocation of the multicultural student development offices be increased to meet the needs of their work.

  • We demand that none of the peaceful protesters in this occupation receive any punishment or repercussions for this activity.

  • We demand an increase in funding for the Recruitment and Retention Center to assist in their mission of increasing the enrollment of underrepresented minorities on campus.

More information from The Daily Californian: "Protesters occupy Eshleman Hall to press for multiculturalism on campus":

An estimated six students began occupying Eshleman Hall Tuesday afternoon as part of an awareness campaign regarding the campus’s multicultural retention center and minority enrollment. Over 100 students, including Occupy Cal protesters and BAMN affiliates, stood outside the building chanting in support of the campaign. [...] Protesters in the crowd said there were at least two students inside who had chained themselves to the building by the neck. On Tuesday evening, campus spokesperson Claire Holmes said the administration does not currently have any plans to remove the protesters. [...] The protesters inside are purportedly from Raza Recruitment and Retention Center, a campus group that aims to increase Hispanic enrollment in higher education, and REACH!, which aims to serve Asians and Pacific Islanders on campus.

via @meganmesserly

25 Comments

Quebec: The Fight for Free Education Continues

Posted 1 year ago on Nov. 22, 2012, 8:57 p.m. EST by OccupyWallSt
Tags: students, education, canada, quebec, montreal

Marchers in Montreal; banner reads "The strike is for students, the struggle is for everyone" in French

If you listen to the mainstream media in Canada and Québec (or elsewhere), you could be forgiven for believing that Québec's student movement is running on cold embers these days. After a historic and lively protest movement that saw hundreds of actions and hundreds of thousands of people in the street demanding an end to the continued neoliberalization of the education sector, a great victory was achieved when the newly-elected Parti Québécois promptly repealed the tuition hikes proposed by the former government. But this victory has proven to be far from the end of the story for Québec's students, which inspired the world with their activism, and - strangely enough - brought banging pots and pans back in vogue.

The tenacious group of students known as CLASSE have reformed their organization as the ASSÉ - roughly in English the "Association for a Solidaric Student Union." ASSÉ, not content with wasting the momentum they fought so hard to gain, is preparing to take the tuition fight to the next level by demanding free university-level education be guaranteed for everyone. Today's (continuing the tradition of monthly protests on the 22nd of the month) brought this demand back to the forefront of the education debate in Québec. Thousands marched in Montreal, and nearly 60,000 students were on strike today. A recent press release by the group stated that "in reality, though the tuition hike has been cancelled, teaching institutions are not sheltered from other dangers such as the commodification of knowledge." ASSÉ continues to lead the way in demonstrating how education in a free and fair society can really work.

Aside from the fight for free education, there are many exciting developments on the front to ensuring the tuition hikes are beaten back for good. The newly-elected governments' Higher Education minister, Pierre Duchesne, will be hosting a roundtable commission on the financing of universities in Québec, which receive a large portion of their funding from the government as public universities. A great number of scandals have arisen in recent months. Notably, Concordia University (which the author attends) was hit with a $2,000,000 fine for granting $3.1 million in severance packages to 6 departing staff members, one of which then pocketed the money and returned to the university with a salaried position only a few months later. Radio-Canada later learned that one of the University of Sherbrooke's expensive new Longueuil campus buildings, found at the time to be necessary expansion of the university, is almost vacant and lacking private partners three years after its opening. Because of these frequent and continuing scandals, the student movements are eager to meet Minister Duchesne and defend student budgets against the excesses of the universities' senseless spending sprees.

And finally, student organizations continue to contest the violent police repression that was seen during the student strike. This week, students at the CÉGEP du Vieux-Montréal (a post-secondary college) voted with a nearly two-thirds majority to go on strike again this week, demanding that the government drop all criminal charges against student strikers. At this time, there are hundreds of charges awaiting student strikers for a variety of actions of civil disobedience that were committed. The ASSÉ, as well as the two other student groups representing university and CÉGEP students, have partnered with several prominent unions in Québec to call for a full inquiry into police repression and violence against the student movement.

Those interested in hearing more about the fight for free tuition in Québec are encouraged to visit Translating the Printemps Érable or the ASSÉ website (French only).

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Free University NYC: S18-S22

Posted 1 year ago on Sept. 18, 2012, 12:03 p.m. EST by OccupyWallSt
Tags: s17, free university, nyc, education

FreeUniversity: S18-S22

To mark the one year anniversary of Occupy Wall Street, a coalition of students, educators, and community groups will host the Free University Week—creating education that is democratic, critical, and accessible to all. This event will be held in Madison Square Park from Tuesday through Friday, September 18 - 21, from 2pm to 7pm, and on Saturday, September 22, from 10am to 2pm. Participants will gather in solidarity with Occupy Wall Street’s one year anniversary, as well as with education movements in Chicago, Quebec, Chile, and beyond.

Just across the street from the Free University, on Tuesday evening, the Barack Obama presidential campaign will hold a $40,000 a plate fundraiser at the 40/40 Club, hosted by Jay-Z and Beyoncé and attended by the president. The cost and exclusivity of the event is a reminder of both the increasing concentration of wealth in U.S. society and the inaccessibility of the political system to ordinary people. “The fact that the 1% can spend $40,000 on an evening, while millions of people have tens of thousands of dollars in debt hanging over their lives for getting an education, shows that the system is out of balance. We need free education for all, as demonstrated in the Free University, now more than ever,” said organizer Carwil Bjork-James.

Of the over 130 scheduled workshops at the Free University Week, highlights include: ‘On Disasters and Encampments’ with Rebecca Solnit; ‘Occupying Language: A Conversation’ with Marina Sitrin and Dario Azzellini; ‘The NY Comics & Picture-story Symposium’ with Ben Katchor; ‘Strike Debt’ workshop series with Pamela Brown, George Caffentzis, Nick Mirzoeff, and Andrew Ross; ‘Student Unionism’ workshop series with a member of Quebec’s CLASSE student union, an Occupy Wall Street Screenprinters art shop, and an ‘Occupy Guitarmy’ musicianship certificate program.

The first Free University on May Day, 2012, welcomed over 2,000 participants for dozens of classes and workshops in Madison Square Park. This week-long reprise rides the momentum of Occupy Wall Street’s September 17 actions, in addition to other demonstrations against neoliberal assaults on democracy and social justice. These include the ongoing Chicago teachers’ strike, the recent victory of the ‘Hot and Crusty’ workers' occupation in NYC, and the recent victory of the Quebec student movement that defeated a 75% tuition increase and ousted Premier Jean Charest. The Free University Week constitutes a hub of political education in New York City that will enhance the movement’s clarity, confidence, and direction for years to come.

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