Archive for the ‘UC Irvine’ Category

Yesterday the Dumpsters. Tomorrow the world.

25 February 2010

“UCI is NOT a state of anarchy!” – UCI Political Science Department Chair Mark Petracca, to Muslim students disrupting Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren’s talk 2 weeks ago.

Well, Mr. Petracca, we’ve tried it your way, it’s time for ours!

A curious thing happened yesterday at the University of California Irvine: for several hours, the campus descended into a state of anarchy.

Rally early on – a good start

At 9:30am, 14 students and 3 AFSCME 3299 representatives began a sit-in outside Chancellor Michael Drake’s office.  The police were caught completely flat-footed, and it was only because a police officer saw the crowd and rushed to the 5th floor to lock Drake’s door that the students didn’t get inside.  A list of demands was issued, and while there has already been much debate and discussion about the demands, we have no interest in dissecting the demands–the fact that these issues are even being talked about is sufficient.  Police seemed unprepared to deal with the sit-in; really, nothing like this has happened in years on our quiet Stepford-esque campus.  After nearly an hour, police finally made the move to arrest the protesters.

Dumpster being moved like it’s normal

What made this action more than a protest, and took it beyond the spectrum of most campus sit-ins, was the actions of solidarity by students outside.  To us, solidarity means attack, and attack we did.  Students were able to seize the moment, put their fears and disagreements aside, and quickly moved dumpsters, tables, and even doors to barricade the doors to Aldrich Hall.  One door was left open–if the police want to take our friends to jail, they’ll have to get past us!

We found each other in those moments of pushing and flipping dumpsters.  Black and white, teacher and student, none of those distinctions really mattered.  We were acting for our friends inside, and we were acting for ourselves and each other.  New faces appeared behind masks, and we all found strengths that we never knew we had.

Facilities closed

We later found out from our friends inside that as the actions outside unfolded, police shouted news over the police radio: after the first dumpster was placed, police rushed downstairs to assess the situation.  Soon, we had about 20 police plus our campus oligarchy (admin) barricaded inside.  It was only a matter of time before police broke the barricades–a dumpster left on its wheels, a table not secured well enough–not that that’s important.  A few minutes later: “They’ve taken to the streets!”  Students rolled dumpsters into the street passing Aldrich Hall, Pereira, a main artery on campus.  Two dumpsters flipped, workers and students jumping and dancing on top of them, and a crowd gathered around.  All myths about the agency of workers, AB540 students, students of color, women, queer students were shattered–anyone can throw down when they believe they can.  For several hours, we ran wild mere feet from police, who watched helplessly.

As our friends were being released, we left the street to rejoin them and cheer their return.  All were out by 2:45pm.  Their charges were minor–”failure to disperse.”  It is easy to speculate: would their charges have been worse?  would they have been taken to county had we not escalated outside?   Our arrest count for the year is 29–a year ago we barely had that many activists.  Many of us are still free without charges, ready to continue to escalate.

Blocking Pereira

March 4 is right around the corner.  Irvine awoke from its slumber yesterday.  We realize that we set the bar high, but we see this as a challenge: how will we top yesterday’s action?  If not dumpsters, will we push something else?  Just a few hours later, we all felt the pain of coming down from a high, and the only way to restore that euphoria is to get back in the action.  We will never look at dumpsters in the same way.  Yesterday we discovered that we had it in us, that the revolutionary spirit lives within us all, that it takes only a little provocation for that spirit to be released.  We have to come to terms with our own agency and learn to love it.  We also learned that spontaneity is liberation, and the more unpredictable, the more ready to explode we are, the further we can go and the more rewarding it will be.

We offer this account to students around the country and the world.  If we could do it, so can you.  As we pass through our 15 minutes of fame, we want to make it clear that there is nothing unique about our situation.  Two days ago, we never would have anticipated this.  We have struggled for some time to organize students; we just realized that that was the problem–they didn’t lack organization, they lacked confidence.  Go out and try new things.  Show students they can act.  Be creative.  Be realistic, attempt the impossible.  Sit in.  Lock down.  Lock in.  March 4 is just a few days away, but it only takes a few moments to turn a boring action into something beautiful.

Yesterday the dumpsters.
Tomorrow the world.

========

Subversities has additional info about the arrests inside.

reposted from occupyuci

UCI Sit-in turns into Lockdown

24 February 2010

Irvine, CA – Beginning at 9:30am Feb. 24, around 20 students at UC Irvine are holding a sit-in at the UCI administration building, Aldrich Hall, regarding budget cuts.

updates

9:45am: Rally outside, 50 students and workers.  “Si se puede!” “They say cutback, we say fight back!”

About 8-10 cops inside, some plainclothes.  One cop followed students inside and locked Chancellor’s door.

10:30am: Nothing new on the ground to report. List of demands available here:

We call for the democratic education intended in the founding of the UC system. This means an end to the racist, gendered, hetero-normative, and exploitative practices currently in place. To these ends, we have expropriated Aldrich Hall. As part of the University of California, this building belongs to the students and workers. This is not an occupation, nor is it unlawful assembly or trespassing. It is only the increasing privatization of our system that makes this action appear otherwise. This action is the result of frustration with conventional avenues of participation. The crisis is too extreme for gradualism and the ideals of public education are slipping away; direct confrontation is needed.

To UCI Admin:

1) We demand that UCI administration implement a comprehensive financial aid system by fall 2010 that apportions grant aid (excluding loans from the equation) and on-campus housing based on family wealth rather than income. Financial aid must be designed to counteract the economic effects of structural and systemic racism in our society.

2) We demand the immediate direct hiring of all outsourced ABM workers and fair pay for all campus workers.  Students and workers do not support discriminatory hiring practices that victimize immigrant, Latina/o working families.

3) We demand that Chancellor Drake publicly commit to seeking out private donations that will specifically fund financial aid to AB540 students or begin providing financial aid for AB540 students directly from his office’s discretionary funding. We want administration to publicly recognize that AB540 students do not share the same economic freedoms and securities as other populations.

4) We demand that UCI administration immediately disarm all police officers of Tasers.  This action is supported by the December 2009 ruling of the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals. The Taser has replaced the lash of the whip as a device in the service of state sanctioned anti-blackness, evidenced so blatantly at UCLA this past November, and UCI’s administration should lead in the banning of this device.

5) We demand that UCI immediately equip the campus with gender neutral bathrooms. Students and workers who do not fit the illusion of gender normativity suffer routine violence and intimidation. UC should not privilege heteronormativity over the interests of its LGBT community.

6) We demand the recall of the three groundskeepers that were laidoff in October 2009 and the reinstatement of the 5% time reduction of the entire campus of AFSCME 3299 service unit.

7) We demand that no disciplinary action (academic or legal) be taken against the 11 students arrested at Ambassador Oren’s event. UCI and the surrounding community’s repeated attacks against, and hyper-surveillance of, Muslim and Arab students aids in branding legitimate political criticisms against the apartheid state of Israel as ‘uncivil’ and fosters a segregated cultural, social, and intellectual climate for the university. Deploying rhetoric that equates anti-Zionism with anti-Semitism serves to annihilate rather than engage in dialogue.

8) We demand 100% funding from administration for a recruitment and retention center for underrepresented students. Recruiting and retaining students of color and low-income students should be a campus priority, but UCI has neglected to support these important efforts.

9) We demand that until state-funding has been restored to the UC system in full, that all budget cuts imposed in the fall be redistributed by imposing an equal percentage cut to each of UCI’s schools.

10) We demand that UCI administration immediately reinvest in the ethnic, queer, and women’s studies departments/programs. UCI should foster an environment that is supportive of students who are considered outside of the “mythical norms” of our society. As evidenced so blatantly at UCSD this past week, Black subjects are in an antagonistic position against the institution, this sentiment is reinforced by administration and creates a safe space for anti-blackness. UCI administration should lead in creating a campus that engages in academic, political, and social reeducation which challenges structural and individual racism, sexism, heterosexism, and homophobia.

11) We demand that Chancellor Drake publicly disclose all of UCI’s military and private security contracts. Furthermore, we demand that Chancellor Drake shut down the Center for Unconventional Security Affairs and discontinue all military and Homeland Security contracts that aid in both the mass murder of people around the world by U.S. imperialism (particularly in Afghanistan, Iraq, Gaza, and Pakistan) or the violent police repression of students and workers within the U.S. In solidarity with workers and students around the world, we demand an end to genocidal imperialist wars for profit and empire: U.S. imperialism out of Iraq and Afghanistan!

12) We demand that UCI not feed the prison-industrial complex. We demand that UCI end its contract with Motorola by fall 2010. Furthermore, we demand the removal of all Dell, IBM, and Texas Instrument products by fall 2010 as well.

To the UC Regents:

1. We demand amnesty for all previous and current participants in protest on UC campuses. The Regents must restore all penalized students to good academic standing, recall all fired workers, and issue a public statement demanding that any and all criminal charges be dropped.

2. We demand the UC Regents and the Office of the President terminate ALL military and private security contracts currently in place at UC campuses and research facilities. In solidarity with workers and students around the world, we demand an end to genocidal imperialist wars for profit and empire: U.S. imperialism out of Iraq and Afghanistan!

3.  We demand that the Regents revisit the November 2009 decision to increase student fees by 32% and address student and faculty objections to this decision.  We demand that this public discussion of the 32% fee increase include three agenda items:

(a) A period for public comment;

(b) A vote, in full view of the public, reconsidering the 32% fee increase;

(c) A vote, in full view of the public, to ban all outsourcing of  workers.

11:00am: Sources from on the ground report that the police are preparing to arrest the students.

11:25am: Sources say that people outside the building are barricading the doors to Aldrich Hall in an attempt to circumvent the police from arresting and moving the students sitting-in the building!

11:45am: Sources state that a, “giant cage is being built around Aldrich Hall.” and that, “things are heating up.” Photos to come! Police, administrators, and sit-in participants are barricaded inside Aldrich Hall.

12:05pm: “Battle of UC Irvine.” Around 20 police officers have come to take down the outside barricades. Students are just as quickly rebuilding them.

taken around 12:10pm, feb 24, 2010

12:26pm: Students are now barricading Pereira Drive.

12:40pm: Both human and physical barricades on the roads surrounding Aldrich Hall. The sit-in protesters are still inside Aldrich Hall.

1:00pm: Students still blockading Pereira.  Police have given a warning to clear.

1:35pm: The protesters involved in the sit-in are now being cited and released one by one. So far two students have been released!

1:40pm: Protesters charged with “failure to disperse.”

1:50pm: 4 Protesters have now been released. A crowd has formed outside the door chanting, “Holla back, I got your back!” Barricades now being removed.

2:20pm: All but 5 have been released, charged with “failure to disperse.”  Those still inside include 2 graduate students and three AFSCME 3299 staff.  Crowd of 50 waiting outside.

2:40pm: The sit-in has ended.

UCI has spoken!  This is just warm-up, we begin next week!

AFTER THE FALL: PDF and Conclusion Now Available

19 February 2010

After the Fall: Communiqués from Occupied California is now available as a pdf for download and for viewing on-line at issuu. We have also posted the original conclusion of the publication No Conclusions: When Another World is Unpopular for you to read on-line and repost widely. 10,000 copies of After the Fall, a 44 page compilation of texts that emerged from the struggles on California Campuses in the last months of 2009, were released on Valentine’s day. They have all now been distributed to various sites across California and the world and the stacks that cluttered a living room have dwindled to a few bundles to be handed out locally.

Individual copies can still be obtained through Little Black Cart for the price of shipping and handling. We can also help put people in contact with those in their regions distributing the paper, to the best of our abilities. Please email paper@afterthefallcommuniques.info for more information.

Our decisions to embark on this project came from a collective desire to experiment with print as a weapon for the struggle we currently find ourselves in. While much of the writing published in After the Fall was previously available on-line, we felt that the act of compiling it into one place, formatting it for maximum accessibility and readability, and distributing 10,000 printed copies hand to hand was an exercise worth pursuing. After the Fall spans a range of styles and ideas to emerge within this ongoing moment and does not adhere to any singular political goal. In releasing this compilation, we aim to extend the reach of these ideas far beyond their original circulation among the blogs as well as to strengthen our resolve and tighten our individual connections with one another. After four days, that initial phase of our distro has been completed and we are now excited to bring this print project back into the digital realm with the release of the PDF.

Please note that we designed this document with its tabloid web offset print format in mind and thus the PDF is not sized or built to be easily printed on a home printer. Each page is slightly smaller than 11×14″ and the type is set in 10pt Bembo over 12pt leading which means that it will be hella small if you try to reduce it down to a standard 8.5×11″ sheet. It can be read easily online with issuu’s reader and if you do decided to download it and print it out we recommend you center it on an 11×17″ sheet and print it front to back. This PDF does not include the two color poster pullout that is included in each printed copy.

We look forward to hearing your comments and meeting you on the barricades as we continue on towards March 4, the summer and beyond.

The original introduction to the paper, We are the Crisis, can be read here. And we have also made a special March 4 edition of the pullout poster available for download and distro here.

UCI Library Study-in Feb. 19th

18 February 2010

IRVINE, California – Need a place to study? Need a place to sleep?

Study-in/sleepover at Langson Library

MEET AT 4:00PM FRIDAY – MAIN LOBBY (INSIDE)
GENERAL ASSEMBLY 8:00PM FRIDAY – MAIN LOBBY

During the last budget cuts, Library funding was cut disproportionately to other units. And next year, the libraries will likely be cut further. As a result, our libraries are open less than at most comparable schools around the country. We need our libraries to be open more. We need access to books, we need places to study and work. Our administrators CHOSE to cut library funding, they know we want more, yet they are ignoring us.

Help keep your library open! Come for a night of:
teach-ins, workshops, tutoring, study groups, videos, TA and professor office hours, food, games, and a midnight dance party!!

Bring a sleeping bag or blanket, books, games, food to share, and your friends! You don’t need permission to use your library–plan your own activities!

UCI belongs to us, let’s take it back!

Tentative schedule
Friday
before 4:45pm – gather inside
5:00pm-12:00am – Films and tutoring
5:00pm – Faculty teach-in
6:00pm – AB 540/DREAM Act
6:30pm – History of the Israel/Palestine Conflict, and the recent arrests
7:30pm – Campus workers and the campaign to insource janitors
8:00pm – General Assembly: plan for March 4th day of action and beyond
12:00am – study break, main lobby or library/Gateway courtyard (games and music)

Other teach-ins:
Anti-Olympics Resistance
Fighting Nazis in Orange County and Los Angeles

Saturday
all day – tutoring
11:00am – Brunch/Lunch, faculty talk
5:00pm – Study-in will either end or continue another night

Tutoring:
Math, Physics, Earth Systems Science, Film, Theater, Spanish, Writing, Criminology/Law, Portuguese, Sociology, Anthropology, and more!

update from occupyUCI:

At 5pm, students, workers, and faculty began a study-in at Langson Library on the UC Irvine campus.  Among the demands were longer library hours and increased transparency in the budget.  While the library was scheduled to close at 5pm, the university administration quietly increased the hours to 11pm the day before.  While the increase in hours is a victory in itself, the terms of the victory were dictated by administration, so students went ahead with their plans.

Police maintained a constant presence inside, with 3 police officers and a handful of student traitors CSOs patrolling the library the entire night.  The Reserves/Loan desk by the 2nd floor entrance was staffed by the cops, who gave decent advice on books about constitutional law (just kidding!).  Beginning with two spoken-word performances, including a moving poem about the plight of undocumented students, teach-ins covered the history of the Israel/Palestine conflict, meritocracy and the SATs, the DREAM Act, and the campaign to insource janitors (currently contracted by ABM).  A General Assembly was held, and resulted in several concrete proposals for March 4 organizing, including a week-long People’s Park event in Aldrich Park on campus.

At 11:15pm, with about 10 police, a few library administration, and a handful of student traitors cops present, the study-in was evicted.  Students decided to take the victory and live to fight another day.  On the way out, students showed a police officer his photo on pg. 13 of After the Fall, and he and his buddies had a good laugh (even though the photo was right above an article titled “The Beatings Will Continue”).  The police occupied Langson Library for a half hour.  After they left, students held an impromptu dance party in the library plaza area in the rain.

If we can’t dance, this isn’t our revolution.

Below is a statement written by students, before the administration offered their unsolicited permission to stay inside.

Today, we are taking over Langson Library. We do this not as a protest, but as a solution to a number of issues resulting from our administration’s incompetence and malfeasance, centering around their belief that they can appropriate students’ fees and workers’ labor power for their own purposes, without consulting in any genuine way those people most affected.

This includes:

  • Mistreatment of janitors, groundskeepers, student workers, teaching assistants, office staff, and lecturers by cutting pay and benefits and demanding more work; this is done to free up more resources for construction projects and corporate and military research.
  • Increase in student fees while slashing services and programs, particularly those services benefitting low-income and first-generation students and those programs best equipped to understand and counter oppression in society.
  • Attempts by administration to delude and co-opt our student governments, newspapers, and student body as a whole. Since the cuts were announced, they have consistently lied to shift blame elsewhere while secretly cutting desirable programs for absolutely no economic gain. In the most extravagant show of the disingenuous nature of the administration, in order to subvert a similar library study-in last quarter, Manuel Gomez claimed credit for increasing library hours, only to revert the hours a week later. Even in their supposed benevolence, they still reaffirm their power to decide unilaterally how to use our money.
  • Finally, our administration has refused to release budget documents for public scrutiny and audit and continue to conduct budget talks in secret. There is no legitimate reason for our money and the results of our labor to be allocated so clandestinely, without our knowledge, and without public oversight.

We are not just calling for increased library hours, but for full transparency of UC budgets and the budgeting processes. We aren’t satisfied with token student representation in the budget junta, and thus we demand full student and worker control over the budget. Absolutely no budget decisions should be finalized for next Fall without ratification by the entire campus community.

Our administration has operated for years with full impunity, with the complicity of ASUCI, AGS, and sectors of the faculty; thus, we expect no support from the administration for our objectives until the continuation of this system becomes politically untenable. This action is not the first taken by this movement, nor shall it be its culmination; we will continue to escalate in opposition to our administration until students and workers are given control over our university.

Signed,
Students and Workers of UCI

12 Arrested at UCI

8 February 2010

from OccupyUCI:

12 students were arrested at UCI this evening protesting a talk given by Israeli Ambassador to the U.S. Michael B. Oren.  Throughout the talk, Oren continually denied Palestinians their right to live in a territory which they solely occupied.  As the presentation continued, students began yelling and chanting, at which point UCI PD began escorting students out of the room, only to arrest them and detain them in a police holding room inside the Student Center. Throughout the whole ordeal, Professor Mike Petracca, Chair of Political Science, repeatedly denounced students while groveling before the Israeli Ambassador.

It is clear, now more than ever, what interests run our university.  Right now, our administration feels perfectly content using our student fees to fund representatives of a murderous government.  When we speak out, we are arrested.  This has happened in the past as well: last year, the Center for the Study of “Democracy” (a research center located in Political Science and Sociology) paid for former Mexican President Vicente Fox, guilty of countless human rights violations and murders, to speak on campus and dine with graduate students.  Before that, it was John Yoo, author of the Torture Memos.  At the Yoo protest, an FBI agent ran over a student with a van and then fled; UCI PD said they wouldn’t do anything.  The administration has also violated their own campus policies on numerous occasions to prevent students from drawing attention to their support for mass murderers and human rights violators, in one instance last year banning mention of Israel in official campus media which is open to other student organizations.

Our administration has already made deceitful attempts to deny us students agency in our university.  Like at every action around the state this year is claiming that none of the arrested students were UCI students, even though they fully know that every one of them was.  In fact, the majority of students present were opposed to Oren.  The rest of the audience were part of the rabid Zionist community in Orange County, which has openly called for deportation of Arab and Muslim students and violence against them.

The administration is bringing ANOTHER Zionist speaker to campus on Wednesday, another Israeli diplomat.  The event is at noon in Social Science Plaza A 2112.  We will not tolerate this misuse of our money.  We will not tolerate this indifference to student concerns. We hope to extend the embarrassment of Petracca to the entire University, until every administrator, professor, and cop like him–holding the interests of global power before the interests of students and workers–resigns or is forced out.   When we say “FREE PALESTINE” we are also calling for student power, for a student movement from Gaza to Greece to California.

END THE OCCUPATION OF PALESTINE

BEGIN THE OCCUPATION OF OUR SCHOOLS

– An autonomous collective at UCI

Dance in Irvine

31 January 2010

IRVINE, CA – Even though we just finished our midterms, finals are just a few weeks away.
We’re paying even more for even less, and our only motivation to finish this year is the unemployment checks and food stamps awaiting us post-graduation.

Let’s dance until we forget about all our problems.

Thursday Feb 4
8pm – ∞

invite your friends
bring your moves
bring whatever you need to have a good time
let’s get crazy
let’s make this the best dance party ever at UCI

RSVP on Facebook

for real, we're not only about dance parties

where have we seen this naked yudof before?

re-posted from occupy UCI

A Brief List of Impossible Demands

16 January 2010

from occupyUCI:

Much confusion within the student movement has been due to the ideologies of “Demand Nothing” and “Demand Everything.”  Of course, there is one camp which lives by the mantra of “Demand a few things, most of which we will give up for concessions from administration, and even these ‘victories’ will again be taken from us as soon as we leave admin’s office, but that’s OK.”  There’s also the sects which invariably believe in “Demand a few lofty things which show our commitment socialist revolution, which we’re not going to actually fight for because we’re too busy selling newspapers.”  In reality, DN and DE make up the radical flank of the movement, comprising the near-entirety of the occupation movement.

While seemingly opposite in every way, both logics of demand and logics of anti-demand, and are about as different from each other as the guy sitting next to you on the bus on his way to work is from you.  Demand Nothing suggests that nothing that we want or need can or should be granted to us by authorities.  Demand Everything articulates the long partial list of desires and issues that we are fighting for, while acknowledging still that these “demands” can’t and won’t be accepted by the State and Capital, and that any authority that actually redressed these demands would no longer be an authority since they would be mandando obedeciendo, leading by following.  Neither explanation does justice to the issues or what’s at stake, but we hope this articulated well enough the similarities between the two: basically, they are so far apart that at some point they join back together.  And indeed, these do not have to be separate and conflicting strategies, but rather complementary as our movement moves forward to March 4.

In an attempt to bridge the chasm, we offer a “brief list of impossible demands” localized for UCI.  We also subscribe to the demands issued by SFSU during their first occupation.

  1. Institutional support for AB540 students, including full access to grants or fee waivers.  If AB540 students cannot access FAFSA-based aid, the UCI administration should find other funding sources, including private donors. (read all 34 demands)

First Action of Winter

4 January 2010

IRVINE – Protesters have gathered today at a rally at UC Irvine against the budget cuts and the fee increases. From takebackuci:

Many of us just paid our Winter Quarter fees; but with the new fee hike going into effect, some of our friends and classmates couldn’t.

Administration has made it clear that the cuts and hikes were sad but necessary, while they’re making six-figures and living in homes that won’t be foreclosed.

On the first day of Winter Quarter, let’s show the Administration who we are and how we’re affected by their decisions.

Let’s make it clear that, even though the 32% has been finalized, we expect our administrators to do everything they can to reverse the cuts and ease the burden on poor students and students of color and their families.

12:40pm – Around one hundred students have begun to assemble.

the UC/CSU 222

16 December 2009

CALIFORNIA – Since at least October 15, 2009, 221 protesters/occupiers have been arrested around fighting budget cuts and tuition increases at the University of California & California State University systems (and another 1 charged, but was never arrested. A total of 222 facing legal charges).

Oct.15 – 1 arrested and another charged at UCSC

Nov.18 – 14 arrested at UCLA

Nov.19 – 52 arrested at UCD, 2 more arrests at UCLA

Nov.20 – 44 arrested at UCB

Nov.24 – 1 student arrested at UCI

Dec.10 – 33 arrested at SF State University.

Dec.11 – 66 arrested in the morning at UCB. Another 8 arrested that evening at UCB

(some of this is sourced from www.studentactivism.net) See our timeline for more information on the arrests. Please comment for corrections.

Of Many Tasers and Batons, a Few Torches and Rocks, and the Way Forward: A Statement by a UCI graduate student

15 December 2009

Of Many Tasers and Batons, a Few Torches and Rocks, and the Way Forward

The actions and arrests that occurred on Friday night at Chancellor Birgeneau’s residence have provoked a moment of pause and recalibration among those of us involved in the anti-privatization movement in UC. The facts about what happened that night are unclear. No charges were filed at the arraignments of those who were arrested and held in jail for four days on bail of $132,000. It would seem that, at the moment, there is no evidence to support the accusations of multiple felonies for which they were detained.  At a time when people are considering the initial rush to judge and condemn, we should remember that lives are ruined by police accusations that those inside and outside the movement circulate as fact.  Let us take this opportunity to affirm absolutely that the reaction to last Friday’s events must take place as a conversation among those who have been engaged in the defense of public education in California: the workers, students, and faculty who have risked much in pursuit of overturning the policies approved on November 19th at UCLA. The current UC President Mark Yudof, enabled by the tacit support of Chancellors, implemented the endgame of a process that will see our libraries close at 8 pm., our campus workers fired, and public education increasingly become a commodity for the wealthy to purchase. These offices are now engaged in a dishonest and insulting rhetorical game of misdirection that encourages students to address their rage to an abstraction called “Sacramento” in lieu of directing it at the flesh and blood people – Governor, UC Presidents, Regents and Chancellors — who penned, signed, and excused this gross betrayal of California public life.  Part of this campaign to misdirect the message of the movement was the governor’s supremely irresponsible labeling of the actions of a few protestors on Friday as “terrorism,” equating the smashing of planters and the throwing of rocks at windows with acts of mass murder. One need not condone the vandalism that occurred at Chancellor Birgeneau’s on Friday night to condemn this abuse of language and logic and to worry about its dangerous effects. It would be laughable if not for the fact that such political posturing has material consequences for the lives of individuals and movements. We now know that there is insufficient evidence to charge those held in jail with vandalism, let alone to support the charges made by the Governor and the Chancellor’s office. We add this to the list of good reasons to mistrust reports issued by Chancellor Birgeneau and his Public Relations spokesperson Dan Mogulof. After the occupation of Wheeler Hall on November 20th, Mogulof claimed that those inside the building were not Berkeley students. There was no reason for the Chancellor and Mogulof to believe this and so we are left to assume that this was misinformation knowingly circulated. In an impromptu press conference held in front of Sproul Hall on Saturday, Mogulof affirmed again and again that the arrests at Wheeler early Friday morning were made in order to “prevent at all costs a scene like the one on November 20th.” This statement, heard by faculty, students and workers who were present, confirms that contrary to the Chancellor’s official statements of concern, these arrests represented a tactic in the effort to suppress student activism at Berkeley. If Mr. Birgeneau was simply concerned with clearing the building, certainly police would have issued an order to disperse to each of the occupants and allowed students the choice to take a civil disobedience arrest, or to leave. We are left to assume that the spectacle of students hand-cuffed in the rain was a PR goal for the Chancellor. Let’s not allow the public response to Friday’s action, whatever the facts turn out to be, to further excuse a policy of student intimidation that was underway prior to acts of property damage and intimidation. Let us not forget who perpetrated the previous violence on our campuses this year, and on whose orders. I urge the faculty, if they are uncomfortable with any tactic or ideology connected with this student movement going forward, to resist relying on spokespeople who have circulated lies. Ask a student what the environment was like in Wheeler prior to the mass arrests. Ask a student what students and workers are saying about the vandalism at the Chancellor’s house and how it has affected student activism as a whole on campus. Given the complete exoneration of those arrested we should vow to  remember next time that while activists remain in jail, the in-house conversation can be nuanced and critical but the public comment should strive for solidarity and at all costs should avoid circulating the unverified (and in this case utterly, absurdly false) claims of the administration and the police. Faculty need not condone the acts of the few in order to express concern for the wrongfully jailed and renew a commitment to the mission and tactics of the larger UC-wide student movement: to resist the long pre-meditated and ideological policy of Governor Schwarzenegger and his appointee Mark Yudof to replace a public trust with a private concern and to take money out of the pockets of poor, working and middle class students and workers and put it into the pockets of the wealthy, their own and those of their under-taxed class mates.

In Solidarity,

Emma Heaney

UC-Irvine Graduate Student, Department of Comparative Literature

UCI’s Langson Library Now Open 24 Hours

5 December 2009

IRVINE – Responding to plans to occupy Langson Library on Friday, December 4 – the weekend before final exams – and threats of an indefinite study-in, the UCI administration decided on Tuesday to open the library from 8am December 4 until 5pm December 11.  Vice Chancellor Manuel Gomez (himself a former radical-turned-administrator, who admittedly “used to fly the black flag” but now knows better than us) made the announcement in an email sent to the student body: “In consultation with ASUCI, we are prioritizing student study needs during Finals Week. We are pleased to announce that we will be keeping Langson Library open 24-hours a day beginning 8 a.m. Friday, Dec. 4 and ending 5 p.m. Friday, Dec. 11.”  While ironic that amid a 32% tuition hike, 1200 layoffs, cuts to already-funded student services (such as SAAS), and the arrest of one student organizer they finally give a shit about student needs, the decision to open the library has more to do with a broader strategy to co-opt and preempt student dissent and action, and the reality that it would have cost the administration more to pay police overtime to staff the occupation than to actually open the library to students.

While by no means ideal, UCI students consider this a victory.  Even with the wind taken out of their sails, students and faculty continued on with a study-in to draw attention to the role of student action in opening the library.  About 50 students and faculty took over a graduate-only reading room at 5pm and opened it to the public, holding teach-ins and discussions about the university’s structural adjustment programs, a meeting earlier in the day with Chancellor Michael Drake, and future actions.  The study-in ended around 7:30pm, with future meetings and actions planned and a clearer understanding of where we are now and how to move forward.

(more…)

UCI Department of Spanish & Portuguese

1 December 2009

IRVINE – November 20th, students and a faculty member from the department of Spanish and Portuguese stated their solidarity with students protesting the 32% fee increase and disagreed with the deplorable police violence used against students.

ALUD, la revista de los estudiantes de posgrado del departamento de Español y Portugués de la Universidad de California, Irvine rechaza el incremento del 32% a la matrícula universitaria estatal definida el 18 y ratificada el 19 de Noviembre  2009. Los integrantes de esta revista deploran la violencia efectuada por elementos policiacos en contra de grupos estudiantiles en protestas llevadas a cabo en varios campus del sistema universitario durante las mismas fechas. (read more)

Irvine Study-in Friday!

1 December 2009

if you’re in SoCal this Friday, check this out…

** UPDATE: The administration caved, opening the library 24 hours during finals week!  But rather than let them preempt us, the study-in, teach-ins, strategizing, and communalizing will continue! It’s still our library, no matter what the hours are.

Rally at 3pm at the Library!

Adventurism and the occupation movement

26 November 2009

reposted from occupy uci

One thing that is more amazing than the expansion of the strategy of occupation from school to school is the remarkable similarity in the rhetoric of our opposition across terrains. And I don’t mean Capital or university administrations, I’m talking about our most fervent opponents within our own ranks: particularly among the “build the movement first” leftists.

Rather than enter the discourse over the effectiveness of the “demand and march” model of campus activism or movement building as preceding any action, these opportunists and proceduralists have resorted to calling students who take the initiative to liberate buildings and spaces “adventurists.” This same term has been repeated to such a degree between New School and UC-Santa Cruz that it appears that our detractors maintain networks parallel to our own.

[Somewhat ironically, these factions of the “left” have repeatedly sought to co-opt student initiative, breaking and entering into spaces and situations of adventure merely to augment their dwindling memberships while marginalizing our rage. But in so doing, they are presenting a dead end avenue for venting. In fact, these self-proclaimed “revolutionary” organizations are nothing but the parasitic pygopagus conjoined twin of Capital and the State and will die upon the liquidation of both–attaching themselves to any sites of revolutionary adventure like leeches and sucking them dry. In this regard, they are no different than our student governments.]

But while they use the term pejoratively, we actually see it as a compliment. Perhaps the fact that they see adventure so distastefully sheds some light on the impotence of the contemporary Left, that they are so willing to self-castrate the only appendage that has historically been effective in staving off Capital.

But adventure is what is ultimately appealing to the disaffected masses, and what is necessary. The ability to find some excitement, to find a rupture in the daily anesthetized routine of life, is at the root of sports riots, affairs, shoplifting, and amusement parks. Television even fulfills this need when there is a lack of access to rupture or genuine adventure.

This also explains why no one comes to our meetings and rallies. We are tired of work and school, why would we choose to emulate those prisons elsewhere? Why must our “organizing” projects such model replicas of the greater mundanity of alienated life?

Adventure is self-defense, self-learning, mutual experience. We find ourselves and each other in adventure, in life-altering occurrences which tear apart the fabric of the status quo and give us a blank canvas upon which to paint our future.

We can never liberate others for them. We can never impart all of our correct consciousness upon workers, nor can we with words alone convert students to our particular brand of Marxism or Anarchism. What we can do is generalize conflict, and create situations of adventure. Remember how we ourselves came into our own individual politics: most likely through a series of life-changing experiences, through situations of adventure. With this in mind, if we are truly interested in “building the movement,” we have to understand that we can only draw our peers into the politics of liberation through the spaces of liberation and the politics of adventure as well. “Movement” implies a continuation of action; any real movement must move to grow.

Whether we are already cognizant of its existence or not, there is a global subterranean civil war. We are all unwitting participants; our choice is not whether to fight or even who to fight, but how and where to fight. It is up to us to open new fronts, discover new weapons. Others will join the struggle as they pass through these fronts. This war cannot be won with words, guns, or members. Victory in this war depends on the generalization and expansion of adventurism, via the tactics of temporary occupation, expropriation, sabotage, and guerrilla action. If we refuse to fight, we die. If we become content with our victories and refuse to expand and generalize, we die. Only in a constant state of adventure can we experience individual and collective liberation, which inevitably recedes the moment we capitulate to authority or return to the dull, lifeless drawl of the endless meeting.

Rather than condemn adventurism, we must come to recognize the necessity of creating spaces and situations of adventurism and developing a politics of adventurism. Until then, those of us already engaged in clandestine and adventuristic action will continue to do so, as we watch the rest of the “movement” atrophy.

Update from UCI

25 November 2009

Statement from John Bruning about his arrest

11/25/09

I first want to thank everyone for your continued support during this ordeal.  I have never seen the UCI community feel so strong and empowered than in the past few days.  I only hope that my personal fight can be used constructively and positively by students in furtherance of our movement against budget cuts, administrative secrecy, and police violence.

I was present at the rally yesterday, November 24, which I think 700-1000 students attended.  At the beginning of the rally, I was asked to give some introductory remarks about why we were there.  I spoke about the attacks by police against students at UCLA and by administrators against AB540 students (I have since learned that administration is no longer classifying AB540 students as “undocumented alien” or “undocumented student”).  I also stated my belief that this campus belongs to students, that we shouldn’t put up with the administration continually taking from us through tuition and cuts in services and classes.  I concluded by saying that we will need to take the campus back, “building by building if we need to.”  I was asked later to briefly MC.  Between speakers, I drew students’ attention to police putting on riot helmets and carrying batons and tasers, saying that the administration was so scared of us having a voice that they needed police to intimidate us.

We then marched around Ring Road, with a number of riot-ready police tailing us.  I’m referring to these police as “riot-ready” because they were not formally equipped as riot police; that is, they carried batons, tasers, and helmets, but didn’t have the full Stormtrooper costume.  As we proceeded around Ring Road, students negotiated with professors to cancel class, and in others got students to walk out of class.  When we arrived back at Aldrich Hall, the UCI administration building, we encountered police barricades erected, and behind that, 2 lines of UCIPD and IPD officers wearing helmets and holding clubs.  The officers held and played with the batons in such a way to suggest that they were ready to use them even if unprovoked.  Police–especially UCIPD–each had a handgun on one side and a taser on the other.  It should be pointed out that the murder of Oscar Grant by BART police in Oakland happened because the cop mistook his gun for his taser.  These tasers, yellow X26 models, have been denounced by the ACLU and Amnesty International and are responsible for a number of deaths.

Students showed a great deal of strength in approaching their barricades, standing within tasing and beating distance of police to hear speakers.  The police would not budge, and students retreated to Ring Road… only to reapproach Aldrich Hall from a different entrance.  This entrance in particular, on the first floor across from Starbucks, was designated by signs on all the other entrances that this entrance would be open to the public.  As we got near, police grabbed the door and quickly shut it.  A group of students approached the door, and began banging on it.  One officer verbally threatened to tase students.  On three occasions, officers opened the door to pepper spray or mace students.  The third time, about 6-8 officers rushed outside and the students closest to the door quickly retreated into the crowd.

At this time, I left the protest to find a bathroom, because my ear and arm were burning from the chemical agent.  I felt irritation in my eyes and throat as well.  When I came back a few minutes later, the police had agreed to let 2 students into the building to speak with administrators.  This showed just how disingenuous the police and administrators are, as the students reported back that Vice Chancellor Gomez was in his office but wouldn’t see them, and Chancellor Drake as always was out of his office.  His chief of staff, Ramona Agrela, said she could see about setting up a meeting with Drake, but wouldn’t promise anything or provide a timeline; Ramona asked the students to submit a list of names for the meeting via email.  I have tried to schedule meetings with Drake since February and have yet to receive an appointment.  The administration at UCI is particularly adept at giving students the run-around and avoiding accountability.  After this was announced, I encountered a student reporter from the New University (the campus paper) who asked me about the pepper spray incident.  As I was speaking to him, about 8 police rushed around me.  They grabbed me hard, said “John Bruning, you are under arrest,” and forced me up the hill and into Aldrich Hall.  The entire time they were moving me, they were twisting my arms up behind my back and twisting my wrists to subject me to pain.  I saw a number of my current and past students, and some friends; I heard at least one student say, “hey, that’s my TA!”  As I was walking, I repeatedly asked why I was being arrested and told them they were hurting me.  I was taken past the line of riot police and into Aldrich Hall, where I was thrown to the ground, lightly kicked in the head (though this may have been incidental), and handcuffed.  They tightened the handcuffs to the extent that later that evening I still had red lines around my wrists and red marks on my right hand from where circulation was cut off.  I also have a pain in my right bicep from my treatment that persists 24 hours as I write this, and some tingling in my right hand.  One of the officers told me, “nice performance out there.”  When I told him I was really in pain, he just laughed.

I was taken to the first floor of Aldrich Hall, where I was searched and had all of my belongings taken out of my pockets.  The officer that searched me was Officer Chon or Chan (I didn’t get a good look at his nametag), who was involved in the beating of students at the Regents Meeting a week ago at UCLA.  I was instructed to sit down.  I began coughing as the chemical agent from earlier began to irritate my throat and lungs more.  Another officer who was also involved in the violence at UCLA, Monsanto or Monsato, in photos next to the previous officer, gave me water.  I repeatedly asked officers why I was arrested, and the most helpful comment was that I wasn’t arrested, only detained.  Funny, considering I had already been placed under arrest.  After some time, I’m not sure how long, I was moved down the hallway, past the entrance where students were.  I noticed they had a set of doors closed with paper over the windows to keep students from seeing that I was being taken out of the building.  I also heard the chants of “Free John!” outside, and those gave me a lot of courage.  Knowing then that so many were supporting me kept me going through the remainder of the ordeal.  I was moved farther down the hallway to a stairwell.  The police were about to put me in there, and I was worried they might try to inflict more pain upon me there.  Instead, a woman came down, and seemed completely flustered by the presence of the 4 or 5 police grabbing me.  The police let her out into the hallway.  I told her that I had been arrested and that they weren’t telling me what for.  She responded with something along the lines of “oh dear!” and scurried down the hallway.  One officer told me, “don’t fucking talk to her” and “don’t ever try to pull that shit again.”

I was taken by squad car to the campus police station, on East Peltason Drive by the Verano housing complex.  There I was put in a cell.  I whistled some old revolutionary songs, like Solidarity Forever, Bandiera Rossa, and A Las Barricadas to pass the time and give myself strength.  One officer came to ask me questions for booking.  Later, the arresting officer, I think his last name was Arnold told me my charges: attempted vandalism and resisting arrest.  This was the same officer that maced students earlier, and who warned me not to talk to anyone.  When I asked what I tried to vandalize, he told me it was for banging on the door to Aldrich earlier.  Both charges were misdemeanors.  He read me my rights.  I asked to see a lawyer, and he denied my request, saying I couldn’t speak to counsel until my arraignment.  He said I would likely be sent to Orange County Jail.  The Orange County Jail is by far one of the worst jails in the world, and apparently worse than even LA County.  The number of neo-Nazis and institutional power of white supremacist gangs would have posed a major risk to my safety.  He asked me a few questions, to which I answered only in vague terms and generalities about the intent of our movement, not with my own personal involvement.  I finally told him I wouldn’t answer any more questions without a lawyer present.  He left.  More waiting.  Then more booking questions.  I was asked to show the officer my tattoos.  I asked the processing officer if I could have my personal belongings released to another student.  They told me they would try, but no promises.  A little while later, my partner Cristina came to the station with a few other friends asking about me.  the officer asked if I wanted my property released to her, and they gave her everything.  More waiting.  Then I was taken out to get fingerprinted.  Then back to the holding cell and more waiting.  More exchanges happened with the police.  I was finally asked to come outside by a new officer, Sloan, to fingerprint and sign my citation for the two misdemeanors.  The citation also listed my court date for January 26, 2010.  I was given my copy and my shoes and he opened the door for me to leave.  I was released around 4:30pm.

I walked back to campus, where I met up with Cristina and other students.  We quickly ate, I called a journalist friend at Santa Cruz to update him, and then called my mother to let her know I had been arrested.  We then went to an emergency meeting in the Cross Cultural Center to discuss the day’s events and look ahead to the future.  As we were meeting, the same officer from earlier, Monsanto/Monsato, drove up in a police SUV.  A few students from Black Student Union, Muslim Student Union, and Umbrella Council approached him outside to see what he was doing there.  He then asked them a number of questions, most if not all concerning me: did they know me?  was I associated with their group?  did they know anything else about me?  The students went back inside without answering the questions, and informed the group about the exchange.  At the meeting, we discussed the possible meeting with the Chancellor and who would represent the group.  We selected seven students and one union representative to meet with the Chancellor.

I think there is enough evidence through the series of events yesterday to suggest that I have been singled out as an organizers by UCI Administration and UCIPD.  I also believe that this arrest was intended to keep me out of commission for the Langson Library study-in next week, as well as to further intimidate students from organizing.

This morning, I was informed that a rumor is circulating that I was arrested for punching a police officer.  This is categorically untrue, and obviously untrue given the charges.  I believe this is the result of a deliberate attempt by the UCI Administration to smear my credibility as I fight these charges, bring bad press to the movement, and undermine outrage against these ridiculous charges.

Ramona also responded to us this evening about the meeting.  A meeting with Drake has been scheduled for Friday, December 4, at 3:30pm.  Out of the list of five individuals sent to Ramona, per her request, only three were “approved” for the meeting.  Two individuals involved in the ongoing workers’ struggle were explicitly banned from meeting with Drake.  A request for a New University reporter to be present was also ignored.  Apparently Drake pre-screens students to see which ones he thinks he can manipulate, either through personality or institutional pressure, such as club funding.  I know that the students who do meet with him will hold it down in the meeting though, assuming Drake doesn’t pull out at the last minute.

What we have long understood but which is now more apparent, is that the UCI Administration completely lacks any semblance of accountability or moral leadership, and the UCIPD has enjoyed total impunity for their actions.  This needs to change; but protesting can’t change this.  We will always be locked out of Aldrich Hall and Drake will always be gone for the day.  We need to explore other venues for creating the university we want to see, rather than just begging for change.  And since our pleas have thus far fallen on deaf ears, we need to find ways to take for ourselves what we need.

The California State government already spends more money on jails than on schools, and three times as much to house a single inmate as to educate a UC student for a year.  But the lines between student and prisoner, while rarely distinct, are becoming more blurry.  Over one hundred UC students have been arrested in the past week for protesting the disastrous 32% tuition increase.  Our police are also becoming more militarized, and function more as prison guards than as peacekeepers.  As the number of building occupations around the state nears 20 and our protests have turned into skirmishes and are growing ever closer to riots, it is clear that we are nearing the cusp of ungovernability.  UCOP, the Chancellors, and the UCPD are beside themselves trying to figure out how to control us.

The tactics of UCPD have quickly escalated in the past week.  The last political arrest at UCI was a few years ago, during the struggle to insource workers.  In my time at UCI, there has not been an incident where police pepper sprayed students, especially not at a peaceful protest.  The use of tasers is troublesome given their lethality, and I would not at all be surprised if sometime this year police shot a student dead or killed them another way.  Looking into the eyes of the police yesterday, in all but a few cases, there was the appearance of outright contempt for students and their safety.  A few looked as if orders were the only thing keeping them from clubbing skulls.  My arresting officer carried a look of hatred on our face, as if students’ needs were the only thing keeping him from happiness.  One has to wonder, with all of the rage these men contain where their souls should be, how they take care of their aggression when there aren’t protests.  At home, on their families?  I hope not, for their sake.  Maybe they have a nice hobby, like playing baseball.

I doubt I will be the last arrest, even at UCI.  The way that the police are escalating the struggle, we need to be prepared for them and their weapons and find terrain where we have the upper hand.  If we are honest with ourselves and truly want to create a better society, we need to become increasingly comfortable with the risks associated with victory.  We will lose comrades and friends to a variety of things, whether it’s the cold steel of the jail cell or the gun.  This is becoming our reality.  In the coming months, we need to stand strong together, as a community, because only as a community can we construct something better.

I am humbled by the outpouring of support I have so far received, and will continue to draw on that for strength as my legal fight continues.  I also encourage all of you to stand in solidarity with the 52 students arrested last week at Mrak Hall at UC Davis, the 41 arrested at Wheeler Hall at UC Berkeley, Doug G., and Brian Glasscock, and Olivia Egan Rudolph from UC Santa Cruz, and the 14 students arrested inside the UC Regents meeting at UCLA.

I do not believe I have done anything illegal or unjustified.  Even if I am prosecuted for these charges, I will never give up the struggle.  They may beat us or jail us but they will never stop our movement.

John Bruning
Graduate Student, Sociology
University of California at Irvine