This is only the beginning! Since last Friday, dozens of students and workers from UC Santa Cruz have been occupying some areas of their own campus to protest against cuts to public financing and salaries as well as the vertiginous increases in university tuition. “We have no choice but to occupy, because the situation has become untenable” These are the first words with which students announced the occupation of UCSC.
Some months ago, speaking of the American university system, a journalist from the famous Chronicle of Higher Education asked when the education bubble would burst. A rhetorical question only if one remembers that in California the heavy cuts have reduced enrollment by almost 40,000 students for the academic year 2010/11, with an increase in fees to 10,300 dollars, which means an annual increase of 32% (sic!). To this we should add that student debt has increased by 800% from 1977-2003 in the US and almost 2/3 of students are in fact full time workers.
At 5 in the afternoon last Thursday, dozens of students and workers of the University met on the second floor of UCSC and blocked the doors with benches and various furnature. The slogan “We occupy everything” appeared on the walls of campus.
Solidarity for this occupation and its revindication arrived in less than a day from the University of Washington, from the students of NYU and from other parts of the states.
The occupiers demanded the chancellor and his academic organs block the cuts to personel and to salaries, as well as the increase in student fees to cover an 813 million dollar hole in the budget due to a lack of public funds.
An increase in fees and at the same time a drastic cut in resources inevitably condems students to pay ever more for ever diminishing services. this is a recipe that is on the way for European universities and Italian ones in particular.
Lecturers forced to take a leave of absence, entire departments cut, increases in university fees: it is not only a public crisis that we face with the nearly bankrupt UC but a particular model of the university, or rather of that virtuous link that has been responsible for positive experiences like Silicon Valley, otherwise unthinkable without the backbone of the University of California.
We are reminded immediately of the occupation of the Chicago Windows and Doors factory by its workers after the Bank of America had cancelled financing the company in 2008. This new and extreme occupation teaches us that the world of services is tied by a double thread to same financial speculation.
In everything that has happened, the crisis is making us feel its grip; after having brought to its knees a state like California and a city like Chicago, it is now heavily affecting the same university institutions, both public and private.
After the reassuring notes from governments seated at the G20 in Pittsburgh, and from the central banks (the Fed at the head), which candidly have affirmed that the worst has past, we hear today the loud call of the occupiers of the San Francisco Bay: “We are the Crisis!” “Noi Siamo la Crisi!”