San Francisco State stands in SOLIDARITY with the UC Santa Cruz Occupation
Friday, September 25, 2009
We stand beside the students of the UC Santa Cruz occupation. Here at San Francisco State we can attest to the futility of a strategy grounded around petitioning Sacramento and begging for benevolence from politicians who, at best, could care less about the havoc they are wreaking and at worst, see these cuts as necessary structural adjustments that should have been made a long time ago.
Over the years we have seen dramatic fee increases and layoffs. Alongside this, we’ve watched massive “fax-ins” to the governator, letter-writing campaigns and bus rides to Sacramento. The result? The dismantling of our campus has quickened, and the students to whom the aforementioned strategies have been touted as “the answer” stand confused by politicians inability to “understand” the damage their cuts are inflicting. We applaud the students of UC Santa Cruz not just for taking back what is rightfully theirs, but for issuing a call that stands in stark contrast to these strategies.
Indeed, the time for appealing to politicians is over. We look around and recognize the power we must appeal to is all around us. It exists in the students we sit next to in class, struggling under the weight of student loans and minimum wage jobs. It exists in the tired and frustrated faces of our teachers working far too much, for far too little pay, and little to no job security. It exists in the workers at our campuses, the custodial staff, the clerical workers, and food servers. It exists in the working-class communities that surround our school, who’ve toiled and struggled grasping for an American dream rooted in the illusion that education is an equalizing force–that our public education system offers everyone the opportunity of upward mobility–if they want it badly enough.
Our power lies in our understanding that as this economic crisis deepens, that illusion is being increasingly exposed as the sham that is and always has been. Education in this country has always been, for the most part, stratified along class and racial lines. It has always readied people to take their places in our hierarchical capitalist society.
The areas of exception– the spaces and departments, the teachers and classes, which have not functioned to serve this purpose, owe their presence to struggle. We at San Francisco State know this well. We are approaching the 41st anniversary of the 1968 San Francisco State Student Strike, the longest student strike in U.S. history. This strike, lead by the Black Student Union and the Third World Liberation Front, won San Francisco State our college of Ethnic Studies, the first of its kind.
We returned to school this Fall to find that our Ethnic Studies Resource Center had been closed, and that the Ethnic Studies budget had been cut in half. The gains of students who heroically occupied our administration building, launched militant strikes and faced skull-cracking riot police are under attack. People around us hold up our righteous 1968 legacy, while simultaneously advocating liberal approaches that in some instances would amount to our complicity if we were to accept the heinous terms of this debate. We refuse these terms and point to UC Santa Cruz, Chicago Windows and Doors, New School, NYU, the uprisings and occupations that occurred across Europe recently, as well as the heroic struggles in Oaxaca. Santa Cruz, NYU and New School, the burgeoning occupation movement across the U.S. are refusals of the idea popularly propagated that the days of militant, radical resistance and struggle are long gone, antiquated notions that should be celebrated and looked at with romantic nostalgia.
No, we see UC Santa Cruz as the continuation of the struggle that was waged in 1968 at SFSU, as well as a continuation of every struggle throughout history where students have played a role in inspiring the imagination of general society– students who did not ask how can we get a better deal as students, but instead dared to wage struggle and demand a different world altogether.
We stand in solidarity with the students of UC Santa Cruz who have not waited for the approval of student government and student organizations who may mean well but whose strategy of petitioning and letter writing must be refuted as strongly as the logic that underlies it, the idea that all we are fighting for is more accessible public education. No, we are done with the atomistic, individualistic, single-issue ideas of struggle that refuse to see the bigger picture. This is not just about education. These cuts are an attack on the entire working class as a whole, across California. We stand with the students of UC Santa Cruz who refuse to barter within the twisted logic of the current debate, where sectors are compelled to compete amongst each other over diminishing scraps while multi-million dollar corporations who profit from our work are given tax breaks.
We need a militant, radical resistance movement on an unprecedented scale unified across the UC’s, California State Universities and City colleges. We must become a movement that does not just focus on student issues, but a movement that sees our struggle intricately linked to that of the working class. To talk about the economic crisis and only organize around student issues, would be shameful at a time of massive foreclosures and unemployment. How can we organize around solely education cuts when the government is cutting HIV/AIDS medicine funding, life-saving health and social services for the sick and elderly, pre-natal care programs, domestic violence shelters, homeless shelters, school lunches, and breakfast programs, and the rest of it?
We must resist the temptation to see ourselves as students fighting for solely student issues. We must begin seeing ourselves as part of a larger struggle against this dehumanizing capitalist system that attacks us all. Thank you, UC Santa Cruz students for throwing down the gauntlet. We hear your call for escalation, and echo it. Students across California, will we stand by, constrained by the politics of the possible, while we watch the gains of 40 years of popular struggle are reversed and destroyed?
We stand in solidarity with the students of UC Santa Cruz. To students everywhere we declare: WE NEED YOUR HELP. Reach out to us! Help us reach out to you! Lets continue this, let’s generalize, and let’s escalate! Let’s move forward toward multiple occupations held simultaneously, california-wide coordinated student strikes, shutdowns and pickets. Lets get to the point where we are having these actions so often we can do them spontaneously, repeatedly, and gain momentum as we go along! We can do it, but we need each other. Get at us! Lets go!
In hyphee solidarity,
Student Unity & Power
San Francisco State University