April 12, 2010

University administration reacted out of fear when they began to use police force to brutalize protests. Jabbed by batons, hurled to the ground, students took their punishment. Zip-tied, bound, physically repressed, the university could return to business. It is performing exactly as administration intends a university to perform. This institution is not a place for growth, learning, and expansion of consciousness – it is a place to generate profit. The university does not create enough profit when there is dissent.

Administration decided that dissent was so costly, that it must be repressed with physical force. Now, the administration has decided that struggle is so expensive, students should foot the bill. This preventative measure allows for the University to shift the blame of costly damages as well as repress the most outspoken advocates for budget justice. It is not coincidence that those who fight on the side of the workers, staff, faculty and working class are the ones who are also being asked to pay an extraordinary amount.

The administration has asked occupiers to pay damages for several reasons.

The University now operates on a business model. Allowing student control of a building for even 24 hours causes the University to lose on profit. It also cost the University to repress the student control. Pigs are apparently expensive beasts to transport, pay and lodge. Rather than taking responsibility for its own actions (hiring police, the police breaking a window) the University can break even if it forces students to pay for the fiasco. The student controlled space provided no real threats education or the rest of the campus. It was a choice that the administration made to repress its own students. Robert Corrigan, University president shuns demonstrators for asking amnesty and scoffs that we should be responsible and accountable. Yeah, you too buddy. Take responsibility for smashing the students you are supposed to represent.

The administration is being discriminatory in a class based perspective. It knows that these students who are demonstrating, who risk their bodies, who lose their voices are the ones screaming for affordable -better yet free- education for all. They know that these students are the last ones who have a spare $700 lying around. If the administration succeeds at shoving these unreasonable demands down student’s throats, they have quietly dealt with the biggest thorns in its side. Student demonstrations force the administration to show that it also plays a part in delivering budget cuts. When action is directed on individual campuses, the university bureaucracy can no longer point at Sacramento. It is forced to show its hands, one which takes orders on how to keep the university functioning regardless quality and another to squash those who disagree. If it can stifle those who are the most vocal, without using public methods such as expulsion – they have become more effective. Therefore, forcing this onto struggling students is a cost effective method of silencing some of the dissenters on campus.

It is paramount that we respond to these attempts at repression. If one University can succeed at forcing students to shut their mouths, then the rest will follow.

We are brought back to the concept of responsibility. If we are to be responsible to the movement for higher education, then our voices must grow in both numbers and volume. This responsibility is owed to each other, to higher education, to grow, to those who have enjoyed public education and to those who wish to enjoy it. Now is not the time to let the administration instill fear into the campus. Whether it ticket you for cigarettes, or arrest you for defending education, it no longer represents education or you. The administration represents the university as a business, will you allow it to function in this manner?

“Cowardice asks the question, ‘Is it safe?’ Expediency asks the question, ‘Is it politic?’ But conscience asks the question, ‘Is it right?’ And there comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular but because conscience tells one it is right.” – MLK

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