Author Archive

Students rally, demand end to UC’s kangaroo court system

16 April 2010


April 16, 2010
University of California, Santa Cruz

UC Santa Cruz students demand an immediate end to the UC’s unconstitutional and coercive judicial proceedings directed at those who were present at or involved in the occupation of Kerr Hall during a three day political uproar against UC Regents’ 32% tuition hike in November 2009. Since the three-day occupation at which hundreds of students were present, along with faculty and family observers, UC admins have conducted a cynical political campaign against 36 students to silence them, charge them “restitution” fees in the amount of $34,000, and shut them out of a campus-wide dialogue concerning debilitating cuts to public education.


Early draft of faculty letter slamming UC’s kangaroo court

16 April 2010

Here is an early draft we obtained of the UCSC faculty letter slamming the UC’s kangaroo court process. Over 100 faculty have signed on. We’re working on getting the final version…

12 April 2010

Dear Chancellor Blumenthal:

We write as faculty alarmed by the University’s disciplinary actions regarding the November 19-22 activities in and around Kerr Hall, and more specifically, the “Voluntary Resolution” agreements recently issued to students by Director of Student Judicial Affairs, Doug Zuidema. We worry that the implementation of the student judicial procedure in these cases violates constitutional due process and basic principles of fairness. These disciplinary actions also create a chilling effect on political dissent in the campus community.


Extensive coverage Nov. 20 from New York Times of UC Santa Cruz occupations

20 November 2009

BERKELEY, Calif. — The day after the University of California Board of Regents approved a 32-percent increase in fees that are the equivalent of tuition, protests continued on several campuses, with students occupying buildings at Santa Cruz and Berkeley. (Read more)

Police fail to warn students before spraying mace on them

16 October 2009


University of California, Santa Cruz
15 October 2009

Students participating in an occupation of one of the campus buildings at UC Santa Cruz were maced and arrested by police. All the police said to the students was, “Hey folks, let’s go, this is vandalism,” after which they sprayed mace on them. At no point did the police warn the students that they were about to be sprayed, nor did they ever instruct the students to desist. The police failed to read students their Miranda rights at the time of cuffing but were dragged away to the police vehicle.

Post Occupation Call to Revolt

16 October 2009

The glass walls of passivity, separating us from one another, can only be shattered with revolt. We are occupying a second building on the Santa Cruz campus of the University of California because we have answered the call of the first to occupy everything. Tonight is a demonstration to students and workers everywhere that the division between taking what you want and planning for a movement to come only appears as a problem for abstract thought about taking action. We only catch sight of the fires of the insurrection to come on the morning after the unrest of the night before.

What is a crisis anyway? It is the exclusion from work and public services of those most precariously situated within this system. To a crisis which is generalized, it is pointless to respond with generic activism. Activists of more prosperous eras held demonstrations. Still, they were unable to secure any lasting position for those on whose behalf they took “action”. As the current crisis unfolds, it is necessary to elaborate innovative forms of escalation and revolt. Our crisis is as much the failure of these tired forms of mobilization as it is the collateral damage caused by a growing economic catastrophe.

We have lived through too many cycles of defeat and must try something else. We are compelled to negate the crisis itself with whatever capacity we have now. Tonight, we have taken the Humanities and Social Sciences building. As long as we occupy this space, Dean Sheldon Kamienecki will be deprived of his workplace. This empty figurehead, who last spring made decisions about what jobs get cut and which departments lose funding, will no longer have access to the means of his existence. While we hope this occupation quickens his pulse and that of administrators like him, we have not taken this building to send them a message. Although we hope that they fear for the integrity of their documents and office supplies, we do not occupy to demand the reinstatement of funding channels to what they were before the crisis exposed the fucked up priorities of this school. This occupation is a second call to everyone who has been targeted by this crisis. Which is to say: it is a call to everyone. We cannot wait for some movement to come that will stop the forces pushing ever more people out of this system. Our task is to disrupt the functioning of this system by appropriating what is ours for ourselves.

No amount of organizational meetings, phone calls or emails to legislators have the capacity to build a movement. Society cannot negotiate its way towards liberation. There is no need to raise consciousness. The crisis is already making people painfully aware of the situation. Peaceful marches, rallies and symbolic protests, attracting spectacular media attention, will never increase our ranks because this very process of mediation reduces us to passive observers of what is supposed to be our own activity. Organization for action has become an end in itself cut off from the reality of capitalism in decline. How many voices of outrage are required for a political rally to have a set demands met? We all know the answer to this question: no amount of voices will ever be enough. There is no power to which we can appeal except that which we find in one another. The organization of the movement occurs whenever a freshman or a service worker learns how to barricade doors, how to avoid arrest, how to pick locks. The movement has staying power when, for every one of us who grows tired, there are three who will take our place.

We have recently learned that the University of California does not use tuition money or student fees to fund research and education. On the contrary, they place one hundred percent of this money into an account with the Bank of New York Mellon Trust in order to protect their borrowing power in credit markets. They hold our tuition as collateral in order to finance the largest and most speculative construction projects in the state of California. UC pledged collateral rose by 60% with the last issue of bonds to $6.72B from $4.2B. The number of students taking out debt has risen 20% since 2000: 80-100% for students of color. Average debt levels for graduating seniors rose to $23,200 in 2008 alone, a 24% percent increase over 2004. We know very well what is going on: the University’s ability to finance bonds for new construction increases in direct proportion to their ability to slash spending on education, raise student fees indefinitely and ensure that students cannot disrupt the function of the University itself. This spectacular credit swap finances new construction on the backs of parents who increasingly risk foreclosure on their homes and students who will work the rest of their lives to pay off their debt. The University of California has already been securitized, ensuring that none of us have a future within this system.

We in the US have been too timid for far too long. We are afraid of the police. We are afraid of losing our jobs or getting expelled from school. We are afraid of people shouting in the streets. Security is the watchword of our era: no one wants to take risks. But this illusion of comfort — our separation from one another into perfectly compartmentalized lives, disconnected and self-amused — increasingly unravels with each person thrown out of work, every family evicted from their home and each student unable to afford unending tuition increases without bartering away her future on credit markets. It remains for those terminated by this system to use these failures as flash-points for generalizing the struggle. Perhaps, at last, we can understand one another, for we are all going bankrupt.

Press contact: (eight-three-one) 332-8916


We Have Ended the Occupation

3 October 2009

We left this occupied space in order to escalate.  This is only the beginning of a year-long and multi-year effort to stop and reverse the damage being done to public education in California.

Many students and workers are learning from our action how to escalate their own resistance against leaders who are failing to protect our education system.  We hope this occupation and our future actions will also help catalyze people throughout the state of CA to fight back against the budget attacks on their communities.  All universities are being run like corporations, and the situation has become unacceptable. Now is the time for students across the nation to fight back.  We have received statements of solidarity from around California, the United States, and the world.  This is a struggle situated here, on our California campuses, but it is directed far beyond.

We leave not to retreat but to plan further modes of escalation.  We leave knowing that countless others out there are planning, gathering support, innovating, and strategizing.  This is the end of this particular action, but it is only the beginning of more actions everywhere, again and again, as long as it takes.

We’ll see you in the very near future.

In solidarity,



3 October 2009


We have reached the terminal crisis of capitalism.

It will not end this year or the next or the next, but its long overdue collapse has begun.  Without doubt.

We are in a downturn that does not turn up. We see it all around us, in the foreclosures of homes, the loss of jobs, the gutting of public education, and the contraction of common access to healthcare, housing, and a decent living wage.  We have watched finance rise to obscene heights and crash down in speculative bubbles, working families lose their savings while the rich laughed all the way to the bank.

We see the effects of this world system’s slow death on the most local of scales: our houses, our towns, our factories and farms, and, in this case, our universities.  With plans to raise tuition 30% in a single year, programs and services slashed, class sizes increased, faculty and workers laid off or forced to take furloughs, it becomes certain that something has permanently changed, a deep tidal shift too enormous to grasp outside of its local consequences, consequences that threaten the education and livelihood of an entire state.

But we must be clear: this is not the fault of bad administration.  Indeed, they have made atrocious choices, lining their pockets smugly while preaching sacrifice to us all.  They ask us to tighten our belts until we are choked off at the middle.  They even dare to propose privatizing the university.  And believe us, they will pay for this.  But we have no interest in a regime change, in asking for kinder administrators to enact the same cuts and hikes that we reject today.  They are merely figureheads in a system that dictates and rewards this kind of behavior.  Their unacceptable actions are symptoms of a deeper sickness, one that exceeds their feeble attempts to try and wrest away what belongs commonly to us all.

For this sickness is global.  Capitalism is dying.   Its death is slow and ongoing; it still has the blush of health.  This fall-out had been postponed by banks, governments, and corporations.  Yet the general trendline of the past 30 years, the move away from manufacturing profits toward an increased reliance on financial speculation, could only ever delay the inevitable.  And now, it has hastened that end.  The emergency measures taken to shock the weakened, tremulous heart of capital have flat-lined it.

We won’t fully realize or feel this for a long while: its mechanisms and circuits still function on autopilot, ceaselessly trying to generate wealth, and its champions desperately insist that the green shoots of recovery are coming.  But we stand here at the beginning of the end, faced with a wound that cannot close.  In that space, in that deep cut, we see new possibilities, real hope forged out of the dejection and hopelessness of so many workers, students, and those blocked from being either.

Red shoots bloom in these dark days.


Why do we occupy?  What is the connection between this tactic of the militant repossession of space and the historical moment we have inherited?

Older strategies of political action and involvement have proven themselves entirely incapable of enacting change. We do not live in the ‘60s anymore, and we cannot return to them.  Those were times of the deep plenitude of capital, its golden years of global profit and proliferation.  And those were times in which mass protest appeared capable of effecting changes in the social, economic, and political structure of capitalism.

Those days are over: the very nature and events of those times have produced this very different situation.  Capitalism bleeds out, desperate for horizons it cannot find.  In these days of crisis and the urgency of our interventions, the older modes of protest and resistance most remembered and repeated are useless. We are expected to let a few protestors represent us, do a sanctioned march for a day, and then return home, knowing both that we “did all that we could” and that nothing will be different tomorrow.

We drive a stake through the dead heart of that past moment, the double death of global economic growth and global mass representational protest.  We must truly kill those older modes in order to resurrect something fiercer, smarter, and capable of combating a world gone very wrong, a history gone off the rails.

Occupation is, therefore, a tactic resurrected, salvaged from an abandoned radical past and constructed anew for this moment.

We occupy to help break those older logics.  We occupy to show that radical options are not just on the map again but are a way of redrawing the map, giving shape and form to the dissent and discontent that seethes around the world.  We occupy to create a anti-capitalist and anti-privatized space, no matter how small or for how long, out of the institutional zones of capitalism.  We occupy to produce sparks that draw awareness and attention to a situation that can no longer be tolerated.  We occupy again and again, as long as it takes.

We occupy to show that it can be done, and that what must be done is both the occupation of more spaces around the globe and the creation of new tactics, innovative modes of resistance that we have yet to see.  We cannot know where struggle goes from here.  We cannot, and do not wish to, dictate its direction.  Rather, we call on everyone to look coldly at the state of the world and to plan hotly how to reclaim what is ours and take what we have never been allowed.

We drive a stake to widen that wound of the present, to destroy the nostalgia that has held us back, and to insist that this situation will not go away.

We do not go back from here.

There is no movement now that is not forward.  Organize, innovate, and escalate!

In solidarity,


Statement of Solidarity with University of California Santa Cruz Students

3 October 2009

We at Brandeis University stand in solidarity with the students, faculty, and staff of the University of California as they take sorely-needed action against a corrupt, anti-democratic regime. The actions of the UC governing board indicate that their concern is to auction off the public education system for private profit. Resistance is thus necessary, proper, and morally imperative.  We must protect one of the few successful public higher education programs in the United States.

While Brandeis is not in the same dire straits as UCSC, there are some parallels which should concern us all. Under the cover of the economic crisis, our university administration and Board of Trustees (which includes no voting student, staff, or faculty members) has increased tuition, threatened several departments, and expanded enrollment to the point of overcrowding. While steadfastly claiming to champion the liberal arts, they have sought to shutter our prized art museum. They have added a pathetic Business major, with hopes of attracting a conservative clientele to be complacent students and wealthy alumni. An unwritten administrative policy of “delay and obscure” ensures that critical announcements and news trickles down to us through rumor and press release, confusing an already disempowered campus.

Considering our weak and divided state, the actions of the University of California community give us the assurance that action is still possible. We cheer you on as you end the occupation of the university by corporate interests and posturing politicians and bring about the occupation of the university by the people. Unified action to overthrow oppressive power structures must no longer be the exception, but our everyday struggle.

Out of the classrooms, into the streets!

Mad love and solidarity,

Brandeis Students for a Democratic Society