Social Revolution Party

"Philosophers have only interpreted the world in various ways: The point, however, is to change it."

Archive for September, 2009

Massive Protests in California Over Tuition Increases and Staff Cuts

Posted by sorev on 27/09/2009

The following originates at The Guardian and made it’s way to Social Revolution! by way of onehundredflowers at the Kasama Project.

“Faculty, students and unions from the University of California’s 10 campuses including its two most prestigious, UCLA and Berkeley, joined forces in what was the biggest student protest for

University of California Berkeley students and faculty protest against fee increases and budget cuts.

University of California Berkeley students and faculty protest against fee increases and budget cuts.

more than a generation.

The scale of the protests has come as a shock to state authorities. What began as a marginal dispute in the summer between university faculty and their management over cuts in salaries has in recent weeks escalated into a statewide walkout by students and faculty as well as a day of strike action by campus technical workers against layoffs and diminished terms and conditions.”

University of California campuses erupt into protest

Students and faculty members demonstrate against plans to raise tuition fees and cut workers

by Mary O’Hara in California

In the sweltering California heat with their placards, posters, red armbands and chants of “no cuts, no fees, education should be free”, the demonstrators packed in to Sproul Plaza at the centre of University of California Berkeley campus today meant business.

The crowd cheered and passing cars hooted as speakers implored them to fight state authorities’ plans to hike student fees and lay off workers.

Daniella, a petite second-year Latina undergraduate sitting quietly in the shade echoed what many making the rallying calls were articulating. “My whole life I wanted to come here. If they increase the fees I will have to drop out. We have to fight this.”

The Berkeley protest was one of many held across California in an unprecedented day of action directed at university authorities and state governor, Arnold Schwarzenegger as he attempts to curb the state’s multibillion-dollar budget crisis. Faculty, students and unions from the University of California’s 10 campuses including its two most prestigious, UCLA and Berkeley, joined forces in what was the biggest student protest for more than a generation.

The scale of the protests has come as a shock to state authorities. What began as a marginal dispute in the summer between university faculty and their management over cuts in salaries has in recent weeks escalated into a statewide walkout by students and faculty as well as a day of strike action by campus technical workers against layoffs and diminished terms and conditions.

The turning point came two weeks ago when university authorities warned of savage budget cuts to deal with a $750m (£466m) shortfall and mooted huge increases in the cost of tuition. “UC regents vote next week to raise student fees, already up 250% over the last decade, by an additional 30%,” was how one group of protesters summed up the situation today.

In a move that will reignite debates around racial inequities in education one group demonstrating labelled the proposed hike in fees as “twisted and racist”, saying it would mean more low-income and ethnic minority students would be unable to afford a college education. They also criticised proposals to increase the proportion of out-of-state students – who pay markedly higher fees – to 26% alleging it would further reduce the opportunities for young people from low-income groups or ethnic minorities living in California to secure a university place.

In a swipe clearly directed at the governor’s office one provocative leaflet read: “Annually the state pays $49,000 per prison inmate and less than $14,000 per UC student. If the state can lock us up, it can invest in our education for one-third of the cost.”

A spokesman for the group Graduate Students of Colour said: “Students of colour are asking a crucial question: Why now, and why us? California’s population of college-age adults is majority black and brown. Whatever other reasons are cited, that underlying condition is left unspoken.”

In recent years student demonstrations in California have been small-scale and largely single issue-led such as those held after Hurricane Katrina when students protested against the Bush administration’s response in the immediate aftermath. Signs that the latest protests were different and that feelings were running especially high were evident in the run-up to the walkout with fringe meetings mushrooming across campuses to galvanise support. At UC Berkeley activists could be seen donning red armbands while at UC Davis one preliminary protest yesterday included a “naked” demonstration by a small group of students accusing authorities of “stripping” the education system.

Facebook and Twitter campaigns were also launched while over a thousand faculty members across all campuses signed an online petition rejecting budget cuts and proposing alternative ways to save money such as trimming the salaries of education bosses and senior officials plus tapping into reserve funds.

For many this latest wave of protest in California is reminiscent of the 1960s when UC Berkeley in particular earned a reputation as the epicentre of student activism when it spawned the Free Speech Movement. It was also the last time a former Hollywood actor, Ronald Reagan, was governor. Author and scholar at UC Berkeley’s geography department Gray Brechin, who was an undergraduate at Berkeley during the 60s unrest said the current dispute had been “simmering” under the surface for months.

He said many in the university are concerned that California’s budgetary problems are being used as “an excuse” to dismantle the state’s public university system and move it toward a system reliant on private donors for funding. “California is beyond broke. The wealthiest state in the nation is bankrupt. These problems began a long time ago. What we need is a more progressive tax system to fund the university, not to dismantle it.”

The UC system, the largest network of its kind in the US with over 220,000 students and more than 170,000 faculty, is widely regarded as a flagship public university often outperforming privately-funded prestigious schools such as Stanford just a few miles from Berkeley in the home of hi-tech, Silicon Valley. University authorities have staunchly denied suggestions of an attempt to undermine public education.

California’s colossal budget crisis has become an ever-increasing thorn in the side of the governor as more people feel the pain of cuts in expenditure on schools and other services on top of the fallout from recession. The state is an estimated $15bn in debt with no way out in sight.

Today’s protests come close on the heels of another politically sensitive initiative. Just last week the governor granted early release to thousands of prisoners in a cash-saving exercise. But if the prisoner release controversy was embarrassing, the dramatic public education furore looks set not only to be a more enduring and contentious problem but possibly one that attracts nationwide attention.

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The Workers Party of New Zealand Pushes Back Against Rising Tuition Fees!

Posted by sorev on 27/09/2009

The following was lifted directly from the Workers Party Website.

Press release: University Tresspasses Political Dissent

The march heads towards the entrance of the Hunter building.

Workers Party activist Heleyni Pratley marches with a group of students who are angry over the ever increasing tuition fees being charged in New Zealand.

Workers Party activists Heleyni Pratley and Joel Cosgrove have been trespassed from Victoria University for two years for participating in a student protest against University fee rises of over 90%.

Joel was involved in the throwing of a solitary egg which did not hit anyone. Heleyni threw nothing and instead stood prominently holding a Workers Party banner calling for `free education from kindergarten to PhD’. They and other activists cleaned up the eggshells before leaving.

Let us be very clear. Joel has been trespassed for throwing an egg which he cleaned up afterwards. Heleyni has been trespassed for nothing other than speaking her mind. She is being publicly attacked by the university for exercising her democratic right to protest and express free speech. She is being punished to make an example to anybody else, student or otherwise, who is considering standing up to university injustice.

There is a clear pattern emerging of the University’s disregard for any pretence of democracy or free speech on campus. Earlier this year Workers Party activist Ian Anderson was expelled for filming an anti-war protest. A number of other Workers Party activists have already been targeted and attacked by the university.

“In this case as in others it is clear that the University is targeting the people it sees as the leading activists organising against their slash and burn agenda,” says Mr. Cosgrove.

“The University is attempting to silence debate by expelling, trespassing and intimidating anyone it disagrees with,” he adds.

Joel was trespassed over the phone by a man named Darryl, who refused to give his last name or any way of verifying his statement.

Earlier that day Heleyni was met at her door by two men, who demanded to know where Joel was. On being asked to leave, they attempted to physically force their way into the property, against her repeated requests for them to leave, causing her to feel so threatened that she felt she had to slam the door shut and lock it to protect herself from the threat of violence. While this was happening they were yelling through the door in an abusive, aggressive manner that as she was Joel’s girlfriend she was also trespassed. Escaping in a friends car she was shadowed for sometime by the two men who followed her in a large, black SUV.

“I didn’t know who they were, or why they were harassing me, I should not be harassed and intimidated for standing up for what I believe in,” says Ms Pratley.

The Workers Party demands the immediate lifting of all trespasses by Victoria University and a full apology to Heleyni Pratley for the distress caused by their utterly inappropriate actions.

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Only Communists Can Stop Pollution And Save This Planet

Posted by sorev on 07/09/2009

This piece was taken from a pamphlet entitled Class Analysis for Canada published by Towards Communism some time in the early 1980’s.

Since the industrial revolution and the introduction of capitalism, pollution has become endemic. Incidental pollution has been with us for a long time, but endemic, massive, and critical pollution has a mere 200 year history. In the two hundred years that capitalism has ruled the roust we have trashed this planet.

Capitalism is driven to produce. There must be production next year, and the year after, etc. . This imperative binds not only the owners and management of Ford Motor Company inter alia, but also the employees. Everyone is committed to cars that break down. There will be hell to pay of the work runs out. In a society based upon exchange value and driven by the needs of capital we must continue to produce, and indeed, to step up production.

Without exchange value production would be based upon use value. Aesthetics, want and need are all included here. You perform your personal and your familyu chores. You do not require that these constantly take up your time. When chorse are done you have free disposable time. With production based upon use value, commodities (cars, appliances, etc.) that lasted forever would not be a threat to society.

(Incidentally with virtually everyone involved in creating, making, and delivering the goods and services we need, want and desire and with no bean counters, supervisory, financial, exploitative or other employment based upon exchange; and with products made to last, the amount of work per person would decrease dramatically. All this with a dramatic rise in quality of life and living standard. This is possible only in the free communist society. Think about it.)

With the burden of constant production removed and with a sane population policy we can save this planet. NOTHING ELSE CAN. The longer we wait the harder it will be to recover from that ecological disaster called capitalism. Join us now. Only when Communists are in a majority can this planet be saved.

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