Student Bloc NYC: Agitation Education

Item

Current View

Title

Student Bloc NYC: Agitation Education

Date

2013

Place

New York, NY

Source

https://issuu.com/studentblocnyc/docs/agitation_education

extracted text

DUR EDUCATION
15 UNDERATTACK!
Higher education is suffering from an ongoing assault by neoliberal ideologues,
corporate power and the complex forces of militarization. Standardized
methods of instruction suppress creativity and critical thinking. Endless tuition
hikes impose record debt burdens on students and deny marginalized youth
the right to higher education. Unaccountable administrators and boards of
trustees normal ize fiscal mismanagement, prior itizing their own financial gain
to the detriment of the students and faculty. Opaque bureaucracies leave no
effective channels for students to challenge the corporatization and privatization
of the university structure.
In response to this crisis, students across the city are recla iming and reimagin ing our educational spaces. We are experimenting with d irect and
creative means to confront irresponsible administrations and illustrate the
blatant contradictions between our institut ions' stated missions and their
actual pract ices . Through press conferences, demonstrat ions , banner drops
and occupations (and more!) , we strengthen our collective voice and pressure
our universities to respect the universal right to education.
Our universities and colleges diff er in their cultures and histories, but our
grievances frequently overlap. We are united in our commitment to free and
accessible education-not merely free from tuit ion but free from all oppressive
and exploitative structures. We are determined to acknowledge illegit imate
hierarchy and subvert all forms of privilege as we strive for a liberated education
space.
Our intervent ions intend to challenge the dominant paradigms that dictate
the education process. We seek to expose contradictions poisoning our
educational experiences and to incite each other to deconstruct our schools'
masquerades of democracy. Meanwhile, we create free education in
experimental classrooms, community free school initivatives, and radical study
groups, in order to boomerang these pract ices back into university life. As
Assata Shakur reminds us, "No one is going to give you the education you
need to overthrow them~'

T1•ansfo1•111our schools! Take che screecsl
Free Educacion and Free sociecyt

E

TABLEDF CONTENTS
A letter from your Student Loan Provider ...........4
The Stuggle for a FREE CUNY ..........................
5
Overworked & Underpaid: The Adjunct ...........7
Student-Faculty-Worker

Solidarity .....................8

Educat ion as Enforcement ...............................
10
Reflect ions from a Free Cooper Union .............1 2
Gentrificat ion.................................................... 1 4

Greenwashing ...................................................15
Hack your Educat ion ..........................................
17
Escalation/Organizing

.....................................
18

The "Art of War" with your Administration .....20
Internat ional Solidarity ......................................
21
What is Economics? .........................................
24
StudentBlocNYC

Endnotes .............................
26

3

To whom it may conce1n,
We a.1.-e
pleased to info1m you that yol1r local and feeler al gove1111nentshave dec1-eased
ft1ncling for need-based grants and scholarships. We a.1.-e
picking llp the slack and
provicling you with the life-changing oppo1tunity to pay for yol1r education! After
filli11g out obsCl1reforms, clicking a few buttons, and waiting in long lines to talk to
a worker ( even mo1-ebaffled by the whole p1-ocessthan yoll are), we will happily di-op
tens of thol1sands of dollars into your baJ1k account. Do not wo1-ryabol1t how yoll will
pay this back at interest rates fai· higher than we, yol1r gracious lende1-s, pay on our
loans. Do not wo1-ry about the money we will take out of your paychecks for the next
thirty yea.1.-s.
Do not wo1-ryabol1t whe1-ethat money goes orwho decicles how to spend it.
Don 't even thi11k about it. Jl1st sit back and 1-elax, keep studying and keep bo1TOwing.
' BE THERE FOR YOU \VBEN YOU GRADUATE.
WELL

In case you still have concerns , let llS dispel a few mis11nclerstandings about this
whole p1-ocess,by addi-essing some fi-eql1ently asked qi,1estions by Ollr clebtors:

Does my indebtedi1ess at least pay fo1· inc1·eases in p1·ofessors• salaJ·ies,
who will then have mo1·e time aJ1d energy to de1rote to teaching? Not likely.
Adjuncts, often paid at or below the poverly line with few benefits, are inc1-easingly
placed in professorial positions at cost to themselves and their students. The nl1mber of tenu1-ed positions in U.S. universities has been cut in half fi-om 1970s levels.

Okay, well, l1ow about smaller class sizes? Nope. Sorry. Many sh1dents find
themselves 1-egiste1-edfor sen1in a.rs and have to sit on the floor.
If my debt is not going tow,u:d imp1·oving my educa,tion, whe1·eis it going?
Glad yoll askecl To tu1n the hallowed halls of unive1-sities into ever-expanding
malls managecl by administrators , whose salaries, unlike those of the facl1lty and
staff who actually ma,i11taj11the university, have skyi-ocketecl
Yol1r invisible, ove11_)aida.1.myof llnaccountable admi11istrato1-s will design shiny
new consl1me1ist paradises an.cl will p1-ovide yoll with the biggest and best tra.nsnational co11_)orationshave to offer: shopping , food cou1ts, cafes, swim1ni11g pools,
gyms, study parlors , CitiBike racks ... Just imagine: a Starbucks in every bl1ilcling!
The Lockheed Martin School of Engineering! The Dow Chemical Chemist1-y Depa.1.iment! We hope Ollr note helps expla.i11the 1-easons for the increased debt (and
higher tuition too!) despite the cbmi11ishi11gquality of eclucation.
Since1-ely,

YoDR S1·□DENT LoAN PRovmER
4

THESTRUGGLE
TDFREECUNY

The C ity University of New York (CUNY) and Cooper Union are two local
examples of schools whose legacies of free tuition should be remembered and
which can be reclaimed. CU NY was FREE for 1 29 years - from its founding as
the Free Academy in 184 7, through two world wars, and a Great Depression.
CU NY's history is filled w ith countless radical people and events. In the 1930s,
it housed poor radical European immigrant students and teachers committed
to anti-racism, anti-fascism, and thriving intellectual debates on campus. Over
time CU NY became a predominantly white middle-class moderate institution
that didn't reflect a working-class city of diverse backgrounds. But by the late
1960s, coalitions of students, faculty, and community members worked to
transform the university through petitions, protests, and direct actions.
In one famous event, the April 1969 City College Takeover, students occupied
seventeen buildings with 5 demands , including the creation of "Third World"
Studies (Black , Puerto Rican, and As ian) and new student orientations. Another
demand was that the racial composition of all entering classes should reflect
the populat ion of the city's public high schools. The 1970 creation of an 'Open
Admissions' pol icy allowed all graduat ing high school students to enter CU NY.
Though administrators refused to increase resources for this major influx of
students, this decision influenced pol icy on higher education nationwide, and
was a profound step closer towards the original endeavor of the Free Academy:

"whether the children of the people, the children of the whole people,
can be educated; and whether an institution of the highest grade, can
be successfully controlled by the popular will, not by the privileged
few" (continued on the following page).
5

CONTINUED
...

THESTRUGGLE
TDFREE
CUNY
The celebration was short-lived. In 1976, tuition was imposed at CU NY after
a New York government and big business-manufactured fiscal crisis almost
bankrupted the city. Over three decades later, in 1999, the Open Admissions
policy was consigned to the history books by racist administrators who believed
that CU NY standards would be diminished by student body composed
predominantly of students of color. Since then, ever-rising tuition fees, more
exclusive admissions policies, increased militarization of campuses, lowered
teaching salaries and resources, and skyrocketing administrators' pay have
dramatically reversed CU NY's radical legacy.
However, right now may be our CU NY movement moment. The concerns
of students, faculty, and staff workers now align more powerfully than ever.
With long-time Chancellor Matthew Goldstein's retirement, the new top
administration is unsteady, inexperienced, and vulnerable to collective action.
Public outcry at war criminal David Petraeus's Macaulay College teaching
appointment, and the return of ROTC across several CUNY campuses, has
produced a counter-militarization campaign. The Pathways Initiative has
ground to a standstill, and college governance is being fiercely protected
from below. Student organizations rise again in clear-sighted direction, as
new and continuing students open themselves to radical ideas and activities.
Overworked and underpaid faculty and staff demand better contracts, and
look to strikes happening around them as inspiration to take bolder steps to
transform our university. Now, more than ever, we can Free CUNY!

Whether attending a publ ic or private school, students today are more than
likely to find themselves taught by underpaid adjuncts with no benefits. Over
a million U.S. college educators are non-tenure track. Some are paid only
$1,000 to teach a class. Almost 34,000 people w ith PhDs are on food stamps.
As administrators drast ica lly decrease tenure-track positions , this growing
population of contingent workers has less and less time to prepare for class,
grade work, and respond to student needs. Adjuncts, who are often students
themselves or recent graduates, are largely deprived of adequate health
benefits, and the nature of their short-term contracts offer minimal job security.
The effects of these disadvantages are often passed down to students.

LowPay

BadTeaching

No JobSecurity

RichAdministrators

No Benefits

Gentrification

It's hard to believe that even when more than half of all courses are be ing
taught by adjuncts, that adm inistrations regularly impose steep tuition hikes.
Adm inistrators cut costs by exploiting cheap adjunct labor. Meanwhile, the quality
of education declines and cost rises in the form of tuit ion and fees. Wages stolen
from adjuncts are reallocated to pay administrative salaries. For example, NYU
President John Sexton's $1.5M annual salary will be supplemented by a $2.5M
bonus in 2015 and a $SOOK per year upon retirement. Administrations redirect
the money towards expansive bu ilding projects that dr ive the displacement of
local communities. Instead of prov iding living wages for adjuncts and other
university employees, the prevailing university model perversely rewards the
growth of administrative bloat and bureaucratic processes.
Debt-r idden students and exploited adjuncts must pressure administrations to
provide appropr iate working conditions and quality, accessible education.
7

STUDENT-FACULTY-WORK
Who creates the university every day? Students, cafeteria workers, teachers
(adjuncts/junior faculty/tenured faculty), cleaning and build ing operations
employees, librarians, staff teams in departments/financia l aid/registration/
admissions/research centers, IT tech employees, and more ... Although our
experiences vary, we share many needs and aims for how the university can
best operate as an intricate institut ion of socially interactive study and action .
The university runs because of our collective input.
At the top of the university structure stands the administration - the university
chancellor, board of trustees, college presidents , provosts (vice prez), and
inside teams of advisors . This small, unelected body of people make frequently
unilateral dec isions that hold disproportionate power over the whole of the
university, while rarely setting foot on campus grounds .

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Moreover, administrators set lavish annual salaries for them se lves - Columbia
president Lee Bollinger: almost $2 million; NYU pres ident John Sexton:
$1.5 million; CUNY Chancellor Matthew Goldstein before his Spring 2013
retirement: almost $700,000 and a house, car, and chauffeur; New School
president Bob Kerrey made 3 million before leaving at the end of 2010, and still
enjoys half a million dollars through 2016 as pres ident emeritus. Administrators
squeeze wages, work, resources, profits, and ideas from all of us who create the
university underneath them, while using an ongoing economic crisis to justify
new rounds of tuit ion increases, budget cuts, privat ization, layoffs, program
closures, and assaults on workers' rights and resources.
Over the past 30 years, administrators have concocted a new ideal type of
teacher, staff worker, and student - overworked, underpaid , indebted, parttime, precarious, and powerless. But this is precisely the ground from which
solidarity can flourish. Because our grievances are connected, and the university
gathers us in one place, administrators produce their own gravediggers - if we
choose to pick up the shovels.
Student-labor solidarity has already gained momentum in recent years.
Columbia Faculty House workers, NYU graduate student teachers, CU NY
Research Foundation workers, and more have faced off management by
undertaking direct actions like occupations, strikes and rallies, which disrupts
daily campus affairs and profit flow, while also showing whose work actually
makes universities run. Meanwhile, students who feel the pinch of higher tu ition
and living costs see commonalities with these labor struggles on our campuses.
Many of us are already forced to take on large debt burdens, compete for
low-paid work-study jobs or unpa id internships, or seek outside employment
in addition to our course demands. We see that fight ing today shapes the
conditions we inherit tomorrow.
By establishing collective strength and rejecting the misleading "wo rker or
student" binary inherent to the profit-driven model of higher education,
integrated student/faculty/staff
solidarity groups can effectively organize
around concrete goals towards an alternat ive non-market parad igm-centered
on a community of shared rights-for the university's improvement as a whole.

9

EDUCATION
AS ENFORCEMEN
Right before our eyes, CU NY education is becoming

The Hunger Games.

Since the ending of Op en Admiss ions lowincome students have been forced to fight for entrance at CU NY schools. But
the problems only begin w ith admission process. Instead of being afforded
stability, students are subjected to harsh realities on campus. The militarization
of CU NY is ever increasing. Even as the administration continues to cut
financ ial aid programs lobbied for by predatory student loan companies it
looks for a way to avoid the inevitable PR disaster if CU NY were to become
a white upper-middle class institution overnight. This shift would abandon
CU NY's stated purpose of uplift ing
the working class of New York City and
make it clear that education is for the
privileged elites. The implementat ion
of ROTC (Reserve Officers Training
Corps) programs allows low-income
students to get college scholarships
on the condition that they enlist into the
military when they graduate. Do you see
.
the connection to The Hunger Games
. ;,,I :.
now? Students, primarily low-income
0
students of color, are channeled into
the US war machine, fighting abroad in
the destructive interests of imperialism.
Even as these students put their lives
on the line for the maintenance of the 1
US's global empire, they are subjected
to racial discrimination and sexual assault that runs rampant and unchecked.
Students must literally fight for survival in order to have a chance to access
jobs that a college degree promises.


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Participat ion in the military machine should not be viewed as a necessary evil
on the road to personal betterment. Its detrimental effects inevitably come
back to haunt our society. As Malcolm X reminded us: "The chickens come
home to roost:' Militarism affects our most valued inst itut ions and even onceradical social movements. It is in this light that we should critically view the
lauded repeal of "Don't Ask Don't Tell" by the US military. This struggle for
LG BTO liberation has devolved into an individual istic quest for ass imilation
into American society and has acquiesced to the prevailing log ic of militar ism.
One of the most stark examples of the application of military logic in our
society is our K-12 education system. In the United States we now use more
resources to criminalize youth than to educate them. In a country with the
highest incarceration rate in the world, our prisons are overwhelmingly filled
with Afr ican-Americans and Latinos.

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This process of incarceration starts early and often in public schools that are
increasingly focusing on the criminalization of the ir students. Following the
Hart-Rudman commission's designation of education as a national security
concern in 2000, children are explicitly subjected to military-style modes of
d iscipline and are viewed as disposable populations, rather than future citizens.
This barbaric socio-political and economic strategy to marginalize and oppress
youth with the intended goal of incarcerat ion is known as the School to Prison
Pipeline. It is characterized by a number of punitive policies:











zero-tolerance discipline
no regard for individual circumstances, such as expelled for bringing
scissors (generally classified as a "weapon") into the classroom for art
project
racist double standard in enforcement
school-based arrests
Reliance on law enforcement, rather than teachers and administrators, to
handle minor school misconduct.
Resource allocat ion for the presence of police officers and security
personnel, rather than bas ic educational resources like textbooks and
libraries
Soaring rates of suspension, overwhelmingly for children of color.
Depending on the location students who have been suspended or expelled
have no right to an education at all. In others, they are sent to disc iplinary
alternative schools and funneled into the juvenile justice system.

Students pushed along the pipeline end up in private, for-profit juvenile
detention facilities, many of wh ich provide few, if any, educational services.
Though many students are propelled down the pipeline from school to jail, it
is difficult for them to make the journey in reverse. The vast majority of these
students never graduate from high school.
Most universities present themselves as institutions of progress ive learning,
intellectual freedom and academic integrity, but it is critical to examine our
educational institutions' role in society beyond this ideal image. We must be
conscious and critical of our own schools' integral role in actively supporting
and perpetuating the ever-growing US military empire. The growing presence
of the NYPD and overbearing private security on our campuses and the
surveillance of marginalized communities such as Musl im students should
remind that the effects of militarism in our lives are immediate and pernicious.
11

REFLECTIONS
FROM
A FREECOOPERUNION
The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art, founded in 1859,
is one of the last remaining free univers ities in the United States. In October
2011, President Jamshed Bharucha announced that the school's endowment
was running a very large deficit. Very few board members accept any culpability
as to how that debt was acquired, even though it has very much to do with the
construction of the new academic building, widely considered too costly at
best and entirely unnecessary at worst. It was apparent that breaking with the
school's 150 year history of free education and charging tuition had become
an intentional goal as part of the board's strategy to rebrand and expand the
school. In opposition to Cooper Union's original charter, the board seeks a
more corporate model that can bring in profit.
After the students and faculty had tirelessly tried for months to engage the
administration, we dec ide d to address the publ ic and let them know that the
school was in a crisis that was being misconstrued by the administration. A
group of th irty of us planned carefully for two months for a phys ical lock-in w ith
barricades of the Peter Cooper suite, wh ich is the eighth-floor clock tower. We
held the space for a week in December, 2012, to demonstrate that students
are more important than the administration.
We had three demands: 1) the administration reaffirm the mission statement,
including the full tuition scholarship; 2) drastic changes be made to the schools
governance, which would include putting students and faculty from each of the
schools as voting members of the board; 3) Jamshed Bharucha step down.
In April 2013, the chairman of the board announced that starting in 2014, the
school would charge 50°/o tu ition valued at $20,000 a year. Left with no other
means to hold the administration accountable to the school's mission, we
took over the president's office and established not only a physical occupation
of the space that lasted 65 days. We also demonstrated what a model of
collective governance by students, faculty, alumni and workers - committed to
the school's mission of "education as free as air and water" - could look like.
In response to our taking over the pres ident's office, the full-time faculty in the
School of Art passed a vote of no confidence. The student body of the School
of Art and many faculty of the School of Architecture and Engineering signed as
well. The adjuncts, which make up nearly 80% of our faculty, were threatened
that if they signed this vote of no confidence, they might not be invited back.
Due to the precarious nature of being an adjunct, they don't have a way to
voice how they feel. This is a problem that also occurs at other schools.

We envision a future where we're not at the hands of unaccountable
administrations and boards. We know that the governance problems we face
are but a microcosm of those that others are dealing with across the city and
country. We all share these same grievances, whether they manifest in terms
of tuition, expansion, fees, or cuts. The problem always stems from profitdriven administrations and the lack of democratic partic ipat ion from students,
faculty, staff and alumni. It seems arbitrary the way we allow hierarchies to exist
in these institutions. At Free Cooper Union, we envision a school with more
cooperative administrative forms in which decision-making power would be
vested in a group of students and deans.
We will continue to our fight for a tuit ion free Cooper Union in the GuralBorowkosky working group established in the wake of the occupation to reopen
the tuition question. If we fail to stop the implementation of tuit ion, the entire
higher education community stands to lose. The Cooper Union administration's
message is that full tuition scholarships, although a widespread model in other
industrialized countries like Denmark,
are not a sustainable way to run a
school.
In reality, it is the bloated
administrations and their complete
lack of fiscal transparency that is not
sustainable.

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As students, it is our right and
responsib ility to play an active role in
the governance of our univers ities - the
institutions, spaces and communities
that we build and maintain through our
intellectual and social engagement.
The recent events at the Cooper Union
show that we are not only able, but
obligated, to fight for real meaningful
partic ipat ion of all members of the
university's community in dec isionmaking processes that determine
how our schools are run. The current
response to the Cooper Union crisis is
just one step in the direction of more
partic ipat ion by students, alumni and
faculty in the struggle for a solution to
the most importa nt challenge the school
faced in its entire history. We invite you
to imagine what forms democratic,
inclusive governance could take at your
school and how you might be able to
achieve them.
13

GENTRIFICATION
: (noun) process by which existing neighborhoods,

institutional spaces, and urban environments are
expropriated and forcibly reconstructed for the
benefit of a dominant social class.
Side effects include: occupation by police forces, empty high-ris e apartment
buildings, abandoned houses, displacement of residents. May lead to a
proliferat ion of coffee shops, cupcake boutiques, and other trendy sites of
consumption.

NYU/Columbia:

two
private
institutions escalating their subordination
of surrounding communities on opposite
ends of NYC. NYU's infamous 2031
Expansion Plan is a menace to the d iversity
and culture that made Greenw ich Village
des irable real estate in the first place.
Columb ia's expansion into Harlem has
a sordid history of displacing residents
by buying up residential property for
student and faculty housing. The current
"Manhattanville
project"
expands the
university from 125th St to 133rd St
and uproots residents and businesses
in that area through eminent domain and
"rezoning:'

Medgar Evers College: a predominately Black CUNY college currently
under threat of a takeover by the CU NY Board of Trustees. Aided by eager
bureaucrats and private forces, the Board relentlessly seeks to undermine
the accessibility of education by "revamping" the institut ion into a profitable
private enterprise. Thus far, student involvement in the governance structures
and determined community resistance has hindered the Board's attempts to
dismantle the existing college.

14

Your campus is not sustainable, no matter how
many recycling bins it has.

COLUMBIA

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LUKOIL

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lips

Recently, to make room for yet another campus building, NYU bulldozed a
community garden that had long been a site of resistance to the real estate
industry's exploitation of the Lower East Side. This is but one example of
NYU's detrimental environmental impacts. Desp ite elaborate, high-profile
sustainability programs, Columbia and NYU's endowments both invest heavily
in the fossil fuel industry and many of the other top 200 corporate polluters.
CU NY is no better. Its sustainability efforts merely draw attention away from
more fundamental change. Every CU NY campus has its own sustainability
task force composed of students and faculty that campaign for local 'green'
initiatives in collaboration with business interests. These have included
obtaining hybrid and electric vehicles, an expansion of recycling facilities and
water fountains, and a stronger commitment to 'local' food production. At
first glance, these projects might lead us to believe that our universities and
colleges are leading the way to a brighter and greener future. However, these
"green" initiatives are insuffic ient. The truth of the matter is that most waste is
generated by industrial production (continued on the next page).
15

YOUCAN IMPROVE PtJBl,l 'C PERCEPTION
BY
OFFSETTING
Tl-IEREALITYOF YOURPROJECT
WITH MOR'E INVESTMENT
IN GREENWASH
INC
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1
GIEENWA'SH

PUBlllC
IPE1
RCEPTION

RDlllTY
GREEN-

WASH
INC

Our water is stolen from the Adirondacks and w ill shortly be contaminated
by tracking , and New York C ity's food production and distribution systems
are irreparably tied to fossil fuels. Sustainability is a buzz-word manipulated
by corporations to sell us new products: organic cotton t-shirts, Whole
Foods, and compostable food containers. Unless we're able to recycle steel
and composite materials without fossil fuels, long-term sustainability is an
impossible task. Solar and wind power both require new resource extraction
and cannot currently meet the needs of industry.
Our environmental problems stem from measurable and easily recognizable
sources. Ride a bike behind a diesel truck, live under a congested flight path, or
try swimming in the East River if you're a non-believer. Unless we confront the
systems of resource extraction and industr ial pollution, sustainability belongs
to the marketing departments that brought us Cit iBike.
Even divestment from the fossil fuel industry, though a lofty (some say attainable)
goal, fails to address the root problems of the crisis. Industr ial civilization
has commodified life, creating systems that make the very reproduction of
life impossible. Anything less than a radical repurpos ing of our methods of
product ion w ill only perpetuate trendy "lifestyle environmentalism" in which our
universit ies engage. Instead, we need to explore innovative, system-changing
solutions to the environmental crisis.

16

HACKYOUREDUCATION
Well, you've signed on the dotted line, you're
here. Now what?
Own your studies.

Work with your professors to fulfill the course
requirements while simultaneously brainstorming and enacting social justice.
Whether you're studying mathematics or music, ask yourself: "How can my
studies contribute to this struggle I care about?" The more unlikely the pairing,
the more you can expand the horizons of the people you encounter. We need
innovative approaches to social justice in every subject, not just the humanit ies
and social sciences. For example, climate change cannot be addressed without
radical new perspectives in the fields of ecology, urban design. and civil


engineering.

Build relationships.

It's easy to become disconnected from polit ical
activity/issues in the community while trying to keep up with classes. To get
around this, actively pursue relationsh ips with community organizations. Look
for mentors, develop ties with folks at other schools, d iscuss new ideas, and
bring people to events. Encourage people w ith diverse backgrounds, different
participation styles, personality types, and interests to contribute in ways that
are fun and meaningful for them.

Share resources.

As a student you have access to tons of resources some encouraged by the administration, others not. Take advantage of all of
them:
• Reserve space, take space and claim it.


Tap into student organ ization money: form "club fronts" and
use the university money



Link up with rad, sympathetic professors



Reach out to alumni as needed, especially for extra support
and institut ional memory



Access to creative supplies: dumpster abandoned art
supplies, gain access (officially or unoffic ially) to studios or
labs.

Extend this list!

Look for opportunities to share these resources with
people and campaigns outs ide your school.
17

ORGANIZE!ESCALATE!
Welcome to school. This is your home, work, social life and your
community. If there is anything you don't like, get up and change
it. Don't just take things as you find them, recognize that you along
with others have the agencyto change them. Thingswill happen but
you are going to have to make it happen. Administrations respond
to student pressure. Organize. Once you've organized, it's time to
turn up the flame and let them BOIL.

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Some aspects to
consider when
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planning to
• organize:

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Political demands: Use smart demands like crowbars to drive a wedge
into the status quo. While working towards the resolution of immed iate
contradiction, keep long-term goals on the horizon.



Generate both internal and external legitimacy.



Alliances: Forge strategic alliances w ith other groups and individuals who
share your goals.



Diversity: Strive for a vibrant d iversity of people and ideologies. Avo id
being too homogenous, dogmatic or isolating.



Draw from history: Learn from the past and be prepared for various
challenges .



Escalation of tactics: Tactics needs to develop cohesive ly w ithin a
steady progress ion, exhausting the more conventional approaches (such
as petit ions) before moving on to bolder, more confrontational approac hes.
This creates evidence of past efforts to show critics how attempts to
create change within the system through more conventional means were
unsuccessful.

18

SPECIFIC
TACTICS


Organize a massive information campaign on campuses. Getting your
message out constantly is crucial. Get everyone talking and build buzz for
your cause.



Distributed printed materials all the time; flyering teams conducting
constant outreach.



Intensify in conjunction w ith escalation. Flyering squads mobilize students:
d istribute flyers and engage in 5-10 min. long conversations with students
while d istributing materials. Do this nonstop.



Information distribut ion examples: flyers, leaflets, posters, website, video
clips, research papers.



Have general meetings where eight to several thousand people can learn
the basics. Have "mood watchers" at meetings and assemblies.



Communicate with strong symbols like the red square.



Food is important. Have food at events. People need to eat.



Acknowledge people who do the most unpleasant but necessary work.
Rotate these tasks when possible.



Document all actions and learn from mistakes. Keep archives of everything.



Publish the texts of your own dissenters; assimilate them, but do not let
them d istract you from making progress.



Use punk tactics: It's important to be genu ine and not cleave to traditional
structures and forms of legitimacy



Take advantage of the fact that universities are comprised of folks from all
kinds of backgrounds. Physicists can be revolutionaries and useful to your
efforts.



Prepare for administrative and state repression. Coordinate w ith the
National Lawyer's Guild. Form legal committees and hold workshops on
safety, security and "know your rights:'

.I:

''THE ART OF WAR''
WITHYOUR
ADMINISTRATION


Find out who is really in charge.

Figure out who has the final
say and only deal with him or her. Research who has the real power and do
not let administrators defer to the president, or let the president send you
to useless meetings w ith powerless people. They will try.



Never meet with an administrator without first
organizing a group of students who share your goals.
Find some way to d isplay this: a petition, lots of students at a meet ing w ith
administrators, or students wearing a symbo l of support (Tip : never atte nd
a meet ing with less than three students .).



Know your administrator.

Keep detailed notes of all things s/ he
says . Play admi nistrators off of each ot her. Make them seem like the brill iant
ones for coming up with your idea. Find out who has the pres ide nt's ear.



Beware of ''death by committee!'

After ignoring you, they
may decide to "study" the issue with administ rators, facu lty, and perhaps
a token student rep. Sometimes there is no way around a committee, but
always give it firm deadlines and keep up the pressure, or all it will do is
issue an inconclusive report. Demand that all committee meetings be open
to the public.



Look to any places in your school that have ''student
representatives!' A stude nt union, congress, council, etc. Sometimes
these reps actua lly have power and take their jobs seriously (sometimes
they don't). Again, be wary of "death by committee:'



Have clear, short demands.

When your administrators don't
act on your demands, make them. Hold a march, drop a banner , plan an
occupation.

20

INTERNATIONAL
SOLIDARITY
Quebec:
After several years of coalition
building
and
organizing
on both public and private
school campuses, Quebec's
Association for Student Union
Solidarity (ASSE) initiated a
massive strike against tuition
hikes in the Spring of 201 2.
Following 100 days of campus
occupations,
neighborhood
and city-wide assemblies, night
marches, and police riots, the
National Assembly of Quebec
passed an emergency law banning public assemblies, masks, and dissent
of any kind. Bill 78, officially named "An Act to enable students to receive
instruction from the postsecondary institutions they attend" was repealed
after broad public condemnation. Tens of thousands took to the street during
a weekend-long show of solidarity for the students, particularly emphasizing
the interconnectedness between various social struggles. Despite the election
of a new provincial premier, activists have continued to face state repression
through less-than-lethal assault, raid of activist spaces, and mass arrests. The
students of ASSE are seeking to connect with other international student
activists and will be hosting the Montreal Student Movement Convention 201 4,
the first US-Canada student movement convention. La lutte continue.
POLICE PARTOUT; JUSTICE NULLE PART
"POLICE EVERYWHERE; JUSTICE NOWHERE"

Chile:
In 2011, Chilean students took their country - and the world - by storm,
mounting some of the largest and most organized mobilizations for free public
education in recent memory. Among their tactics: a choreographed reproduction
of Michael Jackson's Thriller, a mass kiss-in for education, an 1,800-hour relay
for education that circled outgoing President Sebastian Pifiera's office for
weeks, hundreds of student occupations, and weeks of marches that brought
21

tens of thousands onto the streets of Santiago and other Chilean cities. Two
and a half years later, the students' demands that the state guarantee the right
to free higher education and put an end to profiteering in the country's growing
private university system have not been met, but the protests continue. Three
education ministers have been forced from office and numerous scandals have
been brought to light since the movement began. Now, just a few months
before national elections, Ch ile's student movement has pushed education
and inequality, more broadly, to the center of the country's electoral agenda.
Many of the most recognizable student faces of protests, meanwh ile, will be
competing for seats in Chile's Congress, hoping to build a new popular front
that can bring together the country's many social movements, all of whom seek
the democratizat ion of Chilean politics and the recla iming of the commons.

Puerto Rico:
May 201 0 saw the student movement at University of Puerto Rico (UPR)
reject the proposed $100 million budget cut and $800 fee hike with an
indefinite strike that spread to 10 of the 11 campuses and shut down much of
the university for close to 60 days. The university administration's failure to
heed the students' demands continued a longer trend of privatization. Public
funding for UPR since 1997 has been slashed by $336 million, resulting in a
significant reduct ion of students who can access the public university system.
Students have organized a series of artistic, polit ical, and academic activities,
such as concerts, workshops , and dialogues, in order to raise awareness on
campus and connect to broader social struggles, including against the colonial
dominat ion by the US. Resistance was met with severe repression: occupation
of the campus and beating of student activists by the police . Despite this,
the student movement continues to experiment with democratic modes of
organizing, innovative protest methods, and grassroots media in order to
advance the struggle for accessible education.
22

Greece:
22 May 1963: Student leader, Antifascist, antinuclear leftist membe r of Greek
Parliament, Gr igor is Lambrakis is assassinated by police and army thugs. 17
November 1973: A tank bursts into the occupied Polytechnic Univers ity of
Athens, where students are protesting the U.S.-backed military junta ruling the
country. Eighty three activists are left dead. 5 May 201 O: Protests erupt across
Greece as the Troika (the European Commiss ion, the European Central Bank,
and the International Monetary Fund) thrusts austerity down the throats of the
people in an effort to keep their jobs in Belgium. A part of these reforms is the
"Diamantopoulou law", wh ich implements a series of dramatic pr ivatization that
would convert free publ ic universities into private universities, following the
American model. Students in universities and high schools across the country
organize strikes, marching out of classes and occupying their universities .
283 of the 420 higher education institutions in Greece are occupied almost
immed iately after the reform is passed; all entrance exams are cancelled .
Students take the streets, paralyzing the entire university system and bring ing
nearby transportation hubs to a gr inding halt. They make their demand clear:
it is not up to the Troika to decide their future for them . The feeling that the
military junta never left is pervas ive. It has been replaced by junta of capital. But
students in Greece are no strangers to organizing . Exarchia, a neighborhood in
the heart of Athens and perpetual leftist stronghold, is a point of organization.
Students of the Polytechnic mingle w ith anarchists and socialists, organizing
free food events every night and holding regular concerts . The space becomes
more than a space; Exarchia itself becomes a part of the student movement.
Police are barred from entering, pelted with rocks from every apartment building
and street corner . From here, students launch their marches on Parliament
and retreat when riot police begin to crack skulls and assau lt students on the
street . The Greek student movement's demands go beyond free education .
They confront the growing misery of life across all sectors of society under the
imposed austerity regime. They struggle to create a political alternative to the
neoliberal reforms that the Troika presents as the only way out of the economic
crisis. Students in Greece are fighting to assert and reclaim their dignity.

instea

I

24

is it merely the sum value of commodities?
the aggregate total of objects produced by our labor?
WHATDOESSOCIETY
DECIDE
IS IMPORTANT?
.
&
h
important,or w o?
who decides?

.
f
I
I
We COU
OCatef Or f ree edUCatlOnOr a •
Id a11
1d,the budget'sa classwar at home & abroad

are we just numbers?
variables in an

:t,r•

equation?

THEINDIVIDUALAGAINSTTHEWORLD,THEWORLDAGAINSTTHE INDIVIDUAL.

access to highereducationis growing- but in the wrongdirection.
with opportunitycomes asphyxiatingchainsof :tEBf:
··.. how can a civilization ensure its continued existence
·. without securing the means of intellectu al reproduction ,
self-criti cism, adaptation & implementation of new ideas?
instead of acting as spaces for brainstorming solutions collectively

THE ACADEMIES-

DEBT

to bring us out of fl CR
ISIS W[ AR[ ALL IN TOG[T
H[R
-

for

STUDENTS
STEPPINGOVEREACHOTHERTO GETAHEADIN THECAREERIST
COMPETITION

a

n~aree

a d~~~ee

for

.

aaJf8b·
t O Ser Ve,

and

AREWROUGHTWITH AN INDIVIDUALI
ST VIRUS;

to

pay

the

spoils

f
v· t de
t4,er rCo1r p8o r nV'unt'tcf
~~er
J ·,

of

our

wages

back

to

S

them

IN DEBT.

or.should we
if youcan'teven~etaneducation,
howareyougonnaDIGIT
1ust be thankful
thattheeaucation
system
1sbeinghopelessly
ravaged
they'veletus payto play?
bya corruptplutocracy
offinancecapitalists
what areour values7 : pnanceor access?
gampfing
awayourfyture
debt co society, or responsibilityto upli~ it?
into anabyssof qebt
whyhavewewemoralized debt.at a depcit of mora.ls?
anddestruction?

WEARE
THEVOICES
OFALOST
GENERATION
WEARE
NOT
DERIVATIVES
WEARE
NOT
MARGINAL
REVENUE
PRODUCT.

EARE
STUDENTS,
NOTCOMMODITIE
25

FREEEDUCATION• DIRECTDEMOCRACY
• TRANSPARENCY

STUDENTBLDCNYC

is a coalition of students from
public and private universities who have come together to fight
for high quality, debt-free education. We envision a world in
which spaces of learning are accessible to all and free from
violence, racism, and the corrupting influence of big business
and finance capital. Schools must be structured to serve the
common good, not corporate interests. We demand an end to
bloated administrations, unaccountable and all-too-powerful
boards of trustees, and the presence of police in our schools.
StudentBloc NYC works to organize students, teachers,
workers, and community members across New York City to
resist the current system in place and take back our schools!

26

ZINE CONTRIBUTIONS
BY STUDENTSAT THE FOLLOWING
SCHOOLS:

B OROUGH OF M ANHATTAN C OMMUNITY C OLLEGE
B ROOKLYN C OLLEGE
C ITY C OLLEGE OF N EW Y ORK
C OOPER U NION
C OLUMBIA U NIVERSITY

cuNYG RADUATE C ENTER
N EW

y ORK U NIVERSITY

M EDGAR E VERS C OLLEGE
T HE N EW S CHOOL
0 UEENS C OLLEGE

27

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