SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico – As of October 19th, the Humanities Faculty at the University of Puerto Rico, is occupied!
Before the warmth of the morning sun came, the students of the Humanities Action Committee (CAH) of the University of Puerto Rico – Rio Piedras campus, blocked passage to the classrooms of the Humanities Department with trash cans, desks, chairs and even plant pots to interrupt administrative labor and give way to humanistic and educational expression against the $800 fee that will be implemented on January 2011.
As the sun came up, and the physical occupation and paralyzation of the administration was guaranteed, some classes were given outside at Antonia Plaza, meanwhile the cultural activities of the day began with a web of strings, experimental music and an open microphone for students that wished to express themselves against the fee. The activities of the day included a dialogue about the fee’s impact and tactics for struggle, flute workshops, among other things. These activities would go on all day.
A giant web that extends across the Plaza calls attention to the students and demonstrators. From this web hang quotes from famous humanists with the purpose of continuing the student struggle for an accessible university of excellence and a better country, said the demonstrators.
For their part, the Fine Arts Department, which is also within Humanities, woke up barricaded with a sign that said “Closed due to bad administration”.
The occupation of the Humanities Department responds to an unanimous vote favoring the occupation at the Student’s Assembly celebrated this past October 14th.
Organizers of the CAH confirmed that this fee presents an imminent threat to the educational access for thousands of students of the university system and have begun delineating further actions that will revert this administrative policy.
Next Thursday the Social Sciences and Education departments will be occupied, after having both approved in the assembly.
Original Spanish article written by Gamelyn Oduardo with many great pictures here.
Translator’s note: Both the rhetoric and the organizing methods of the UPR students since April seem interesting provided the conversations, splits, and frustrations that have come up in California, NYC, etc. Many of their tools (assemblies, call for reforms, etc.) are tools that some people in the US would say are in direct contradiction with what radical ends are which is at the same time what the UPR students are doing on the ground: shutting down departments, opening space for free unmanaged expression, widening struggle. Does this mean that “liberal” forms of organizing actually can come out as radical gestures? Or is the UPR students’ form of organizing gonna be absorbed in the future as would be expected? Or is their context too different from the context in the US to answer such questions?
In any case, one point I’d like to make is that UPR students are not homogeneous in their stance, and there are many different approaches and stances, and I’d imagine, disagreements that have come up among their mostly successful occupations.
(Special thanks to Luis O. for the submission).