UPR Students Occupy Social Science and Education Depts.

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SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico – On early Thursday morning, October 21st,  there was no class at the Social Sciences and Education Departments of the University of Puerto Rico as a protest against the $800 fee increase that the administration [intends] to impose on students. The fee implicates an almost 100% increase of tuition costs and that around 11,000 students would have to stop attending studies due to a lack of money.

At the Education Department claims were also made against the cuts on courses offered and the rise in class capacity. According to the Action Committee for Education, “their plan is evident. They want to make the University smaller, sacrificing the public and social interest that is assumed of a State university and adopting the model of the university-business. They want to tear apart our university to eventually give it to the private sector.”

At the Social Sciences Dept., they put together community claims from the department through their first multi-sectional assembly celebrated on October 14th. At the assembly, staff employees denounced the administration’s [intentions] to change the Medical Plan to a private one, which will be more expensive and of lower quality. The professors reclaimed protection over their retirement and better conditions for contracted faculty.

It’s the first time that during a department strike, other annexes are also paralyzed outside of the main buildings. At the University Plaza, the Worker, Rehabilitation, and Cooperativism building(s) of Social Sciences were paralyzed. At the Sports Complex the PE classrooms gates remained closed since they belong to the Education Department. Aside from that, various forums, painting, documentary screening, and other artistic activities took place.

Dialogue between the students and an informal administrative body was kept throughout the actions. This is part of the UPR's "non-confrontational" policy. Still, a couple cops showed up but did nothing.

One professor pushed through the barricades because he insisted he must get to class on time and then gave class to a total attendance of zero.

People from the island's teacher federation showed up to discuss parallels in struggle. The federation has been very active organizing strikes since the beginning of the school year and they have had much cooperation with UPR students.

A big empty banner was hung that students filled up with vents and claims to the administration

Original Article (with images) in Spanish available here. (Special thanks to Luis O. for the translation.)

More on UPR struggle:

More coverage of last spring’s 2 month long strike here. See also, analysis of the UPR strike in the spring here.

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