OCCUPY AS FORM, UC BERKELEY, FEBRUARY 10, 2012 February 29, 2012Posted by Julie Sze in Guest blog.
1 comment so far
Today’s guest blog comes from Evan Buswell, Kevin Smith, Blake Stimson, Geoffrey Wildanger (Buswell, Smith and Wildanger are graduate students in Cultural Studies, Anthropology and Art History, and Stimson is a Professor in Art History):
The four (Evan Buswell, Kevin Smith, Blake Stimson, Geoffrey Wildanger) of us attended a day-long working session on the topic “Occupy as Form” organized by Shannon Jackson, the Director of the Arts Research Center at UC Berkeley, and Michele Rabkin, Associate Director, with some minimal help from faculty at UCD, Berkeley and CCA (California College for the Arts). Approximately 10 faculty, 30 graduate students, and 10 area arts professionals attended, most having contributed a short essay on a related keyword in advance of the meeting on Friday, February 10th. The essays are collected here: http://arcdirector.blogspot.com/.
The central framing device for the working session was to try to consider the overlapping roles of activism, art, and scholarship. There were several activities that were designed to cultivate discussion about these overlapping concerns including a lively “speed dating” session in which the participants were set up in pairs and given the opportunity to quickly exchange insights about the personal meaning and significance of the movement.
March 1-5 events February 28, 2012Posted by Julie Sze in access to education, university.
add a comment
webcast of Social Justice at the University event February 28, 2012Posted by Julie Sze in Uncategorized.
add a comment
First half of Program: Angela Davis and the Student Discussants: here.
Occupation and the Public University February 23, 2012Posted by Naomi Janowitz in Guest blog.
Guest blog by Abigail Boggs, graduate student in Cultural Studies
On Thursday, I’m excited to be one of several students invited to have a public conversation with Angela Davis about her views and advice on Social Justice in the Public University of California. The event, envisioned and orchestrated by the recently formed Hart Hall Social Justice Initiative, offers the UC Davis community a much needed opportunity to reflect upon the events of the last several months and years, including the drastic increases in student fees, an ongoing incidence of, and occasional official recognition of, racially, sexually and religiously motivated violence on campus, and, perhaps most immediately, the gratuitous, and now infamous, use of a chemical agent by UC Davis police officers on student activists.
In the immediate aftermath of the November 18th pepper spraying incident and the violence of UC Berkeley PD just a week earlier, many faculty and administrators called for the University of California to recommit itself to its public mission of accessibility with specific attention to questions of diversity and economic and social justice. Several faculty members even called for the formation of new departments, programs, or projects dedicated to these causes. Following a similar impulse, Chancellor Katehi announced the development of a study group on poverty just a few weeks ago. While perhaps well intended, these calls for the creation of flashy new institutional formations seem a bit odd when considered from the perspective of the faculty, students, and staff who have been working on precisely these issues for decades, and who, in recent years, have arguably been the hardest hit by cuts in funding, faculty lines, staffing, and general university support, narrowly and repeatedly struggling to avoid “death by a thousand cuts” while providing many of the university’s most historically marginalized students with services and support that extends from the academic to the quotidian.
From what I understand, the Hart Hall Social Justice Initiative is a collaborative effort of the various departments and programs housed in Hart Hall, including African-American Studies, American Studies, Asian-American Studies, Chicano/a Studies, Cultural Studies, Native American Studies, and Women and Gender Studies to reinvigorate a sustained conversation about the responsibility of the public university to serve as a space for the production of emancipatory knowledges. That is, the initiative works to understand the role of the public university, and the University of California in particular, in the generation of forms of thinking, knowing, and understanding genuinely committed to antiracism, feminism, and decolonization — a commitment to knowledge for a more equitable distribution of life chances.
ACLU Sues UC Davis February 22, 2012Posted by jessedrew in Uncategorized.
add a comment
This from a friend in the ACLU:
For Release: February 22, 2012
Media Contact: Rebecca Farmer, ACLU, 415.269.6275, firstname.lastname@example.org
Students Sue UC Davis for Constitutional Violations Over
SACRAMENTO–Today 19 students and alumni filed a federal lawsuit against UC Davis over the University’s treatment of protesters during a November 18 demonstration in which campus police were caught on video dousing seated protesters with pepper spray. The lawsuit seeks to determine why the University violated the demonstrators’ state and federal constitutional rights and to establish better policies that will prevent a similar response to a non-violent protest in the future. The lawsuit charges that Administration officials and the campus police department failed to properly train and supervise officers, resulting in a series of constitutional violations against the demonstrators. The plaintiffs are represented by the ACLU of Northern California and cooperating attorneys.
On November 18, students gathered in the quad on the UC Davis campus to demonstrate against ongoing tuition hikes, as well as against recent brutal treatment of demonstrators at UC Berkeley. UC Davis campus police arrived in riot gear, and officers threatened students, who were seated on the quad in a circle, and ordered them to disperse. When students remained seated to continue their demonstration, a UC Davis police officer repeatedly sprayed the line of protesters with pepper spray at point-blank range, while scores of other officers looked on. Another officer sprayed the demonstrators from behind. The seated students posed no physical threat to the officers. Pepper spray has excruciating effects that can last for days.
The lawsuit notes that the University’s response to seated student protesters amounts to unacceptable and excessive force that violates state and federal constitutional protections, including the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
“This was my first demonstration. So many of my friends can barely make ends meet and then another tuition hike was proposed. We had no idea there would be police in riot gear or that we would be pepper-sprayed because we were making our voices heard,” said David Buscho, one of the plaintiffs. Buscho, a mechanical engineering student, was in searing pain and had trouble breathing after being pepper-sprayed directly in the face.
“The University needs to respect students’ rights to make our voices heard, especially when we’re protesting University policies that impact our studies,” said Fatima Sbeih, a student plaintiff who joined the demonstration on the quad after returning from afternoon prayer. Sbeih was pepper-sprayed as well. She had previously been a volunteer paramedic and afterwards helped tend to other demonstrators who were in pain.
“Using military-grade pepper spray and police violence against non-violent student protesters violates the Constitution, and it’s just wrong,” said Michael Risher, staff attorney at the ACLU of Northern California, and one of the attorneys for the plaintiffs. “When the cost of speech is a shot of blinding, burning pepper spray in the face, speech is not free.”
“The University needs better policies on how it deals with protests and protesters. Students deserve to know what went wrong and how this could be allowed to happen. They want to make sure it never happens again,” said Mark E. Merin, one of the attorneys for the plaintiffs.
Documents subsequently received from the University of California indicate that the pepper spray used was military grade and, based on manufacturer instructions should be used from a minimum of six feet away – much farther than the close range at which the students were sprayed.
The suit was filed in the United States District Court, Eastern District of California. The plaintiffs are seeking a jury trial, injunctive relief and damages. In addition to Risher and Merin, attorneys working on the suit are Alan Schlosser, Linda Lye and Novella Coleman for the ACLU-NC, as well as Meredith Wallis.
To view the legal complaint filed this morning, see the ACLU-NC website: http://www.aclunc.org
March Actions February 21, 2012Posted by Julie Sze in protests.
add a comment
For info about the March 1-5 Actions at Berkeley and in Sacramento, check here.
no-confidence post-mortem, take 1 February 20, 2012Posted by Julie Sze in no-confidence vote.
add a comment
preliminary thoughts on the recent Academic Senate votes February 18, 2012Posted by Julie Sze in no-confidence vote, students, university.
add a comment
for those of you who need the vote count, the faculty voted in favor of the 5 part vote of confidence in the Chancellor and against the no-confidence motions.
much will be written (I hope) about what this all means.
in the meanwhile, it’s worth reading or re-reading Daniel Cox’s blog about the problem of the vote of confidence, specifically from the perspective of students (or rather, the complete absence of students from the pro-chancellor motion).
On Dissenting Cultures, or Against The Head in the Sand February 17, 2012Posted by Julie Sze in Guest blog, university.
1 comment so far
Today’s guest post comes from Sasha Abramsky, who is a journalist and a lecturer in the University Writing Program.
In the weeks following November 18, it struck me that something was stirring on the UC Davis campus – something quite intangible. In looking at the student encampment, in reading the slogans chalked onto the sidewalk or hanging on banners from building walls, in listening in on conversations amongst students, faculty and staff, one got the sense that a new sensibility was emerging.I blogged about this sensibility in Dissent, writing that in some ways a counter-cultural mentality was taking root – not just at UC Davis, but in Occupy protests and their support networks around the country. By this I meant not so much that people were protesting, but that they were starting to develop a systemic critique: of existing financial priorities, of existing ways of prioritizing values, of existing hierarchies and so on. And, in developing that critique, they were creating a new set of political and cultural rituals. It struck me as something of a breath of fresh air – mainly because it meant that young people’s critical faculties were being given free rein after decades in which campuses had become evermore apolitical and the broader community had truncated the language in which was discussed politics and social relationships. Yes, some of the Occupy Movement’s rituals were silly, some perhaps even open to ridicule – but they were new and they were creative and they came out of an optimistic impulse that young people had the power to remake their world. (more…)
Musings From the Middle Ground February 15, 2012Posted by Julie Sze in Guest blog, students.
Today’s guest post comes from Nickolas Perrone, a graduate student in History:
I have struggled with how to remain involved in a movement that appears to be fragmenting along ideological lines. Many of the more radical leaders suspiciously question the intent of those who are interested in taking a moderate route to reform. The moderates claim that the radicals are too submerged in their own ideology to see a clear way forward. Meanwhile the majority of students have gone back to the library and coffee shops as if the events this past Fall were only a minor interruption in their otherwise peaceful university experience. It is this last group that is sorely needed in order to create any substantive change in the way that business is done on UC campuses. How can we include the majority of UC students who might not want to camp out on the quad, or haven’t read enough Fanon or Foucault to converse with the “certified” radicals?
I would like to think that most students are too consumed in schoolwork, avoiding or paying off debt, and just trying to get by to get involved in revolutionary activities. I would like to think that if they were only made aware of the oppressive system that they are entrapped in, then they would throw off the harness of oppression and leap to the front lines of revolt. But when I speak with undergraduates I come to the bitter realization that most of them are simply uninformed and apathetic.
So how can we bring these students up to speed? How can we radicalize students who are entrenched in a system that only works with their acquiescence? I believe that we need to start with the simplest solution first. We need to show them a system that they are familiar with. We need to show them how the University of California has suffered and decayed under fits of tax revolts and privatization. We need to show them that the UC is a microcosm of a larger system that has abandoned the very people it purports to support. (more…)