Keep Building Brown

December 20, 2009


Everywhere: we are working, thinking about the work we have to do, talking about it, stressing about it, putting it off, forgetting to do it. “How was your weekend?” “Oh, pretty good. Not very productive though. I have SO MUCH WORK to do this week.” “Yeah, me too. Finals are ridiculous.”

We keep fueling our engines, we keep focused, keep clean, keep occupied, keep rested. We keep in line so that we can keep working, performing our assigned tasks, so we can blow off the release valve two days a week, faithfully returning to work every Sunday night.“We get down on all fours to climb the ladders of hierarchy, but privately flatter ourselves that we don’t really give a shit.”

We Keep Building Brown and ourselves with it. A school is its contents, its students, its faculty, its staff. A school is its structures, which our tuitions (invested) pay for: dividends accumulated in endowment. The endowment must always grow bigger, and as it does those on the higher rungs of the pay scale climb even higher and become more numerous. The workers become less of a burden and their benefits (financial aid for students, health care for staff) and jobs are temporarily safer. More gets invested into attracting more and better (wealthier) students. Up go the Building Brown signs. Like all institutions under capitalism, The University is nothing but a Once-ler, biggering its money. Everyone needs money. Non-profits still profit, simply having greater privilege, rewarded for “altruistic” behavior, a crucial function of self-preservation in perpetuation of our world-system.

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Reflections on Kerr Hall

December 17, 2009

by student participants

In the aftermath of the November occupation of Kerr Hall at UCSC there has been a storm of writing and discussion as both supporters and critics have rushed to represent the unprecedented events and imbue them with political meaning. The administration said what everyone knew it would say – that the participants went beyond the bounds of civil protest, that they deprived the university community of its rights, et cetera. We are neither surprised by nor interested in their rhetoric. More important to us have been the conversations developing within the movement itself, some of which we fear threaten to distort the real content of the occupation and drain it of its radical potential. As participants in the Kerr Hall events we want to set the record straight about a few misconceptions and also challenge a particular kind of political logic that has surfaced from some quarters.

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Some passing thoughts on the Berkeley and Santa Cruz occupations, from someone who was there briefly

It is no great secret that the terminal crisis of capitalism is before our eyes: the welfare state, the bitter product of two world wars, the child of Hitler and Noske, wherein a certain social safety net was provided for a measure of social peace, is in the process of being forcibly liquidated by the exigencies of an incresingly bankrupt social system. This much is evident to all those who have a basic thinking capacity. And thus, those who are protesting for a defense of this transient historical form will find nothing here of value, nor even anything here addressed to them. Such people can protest all day for a return to the glory days they imagine, but since these halcyon times never existed anyways, one can see they will certainly have no success now. Rather we address ourselves to those who believe in any fashion in the “terminus of student life”; but not of course to open something so worthless as a literary polemic or discussion, nor to presume to give prescriptions or orders — all we do here is attempt a “generalization of insinuation.” For, to be right means nothing, what is important is acting in consequence.

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berkeley-1376.jpg

via Counterpunch – By GEORGE CICCARIELLO-MAHER

Berkeley.

This was bound to be a big week in California regardless, as the threat of a 32 percent tuition and fee increase across the University of California system made a crashing entrance into reality with Wednesday’s vote by the UC Board of Regents. Perhaps the Regents and UC President Mark Yudof expected that their diversionary tactics–lament the crisis and direct blame to Sacramento’s budget cuts–would pay off. But this was not to be.

Aided in no small part by the explosive exposé published by UC Santa Cruz Professor of Political Science Bob Meister, the student, faculty, and workers’ movements the length and breadth of the state were no longer willing to accept privatization disguised as crisis-imposed budget cuts. As Meister explained in no uncertain terms, the proposed (and now passed) tuition increase has nothing whatsoever to do with budget cuts, but the cuts merely provided the pretext for a long-planned drive (and Reaganite wet dream) to privatize public education in California once and for all.
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AN OCCUPATION IS A VORTEX, NOT A PROTEST

via This is Our Emergency

on the end of the kerr hall occupation: from the occupants and the admin

* * *
A little less conversation, a little more action

EVERY TIME a building has been occupied at UCSC, the administration has responded by moaning publicly (and into every @ucsc.edu mailbox) about the monetary costs of alleged damages, as if by beating this drum to insist we focus only on what is important to them – property – rather than the present and future of our lives or any other issues that are at stake here. We’ll admit it, we felt a cruel pleasure as the cables screamed and cried when they were parted from the conference room tables; the tables begged for mercy as we broke their legs, jumping up and down on them with malicious glee; and we could only chortle as the filing cabinets complained loudly that we had not had a 4-hour long democratic process before strapping them across doorways. We imagine that the same bureaucrats who normally use the building, and who piously denounce our acts of collective negation must feel a similar thrill as they ransack our futures.

Seriously, they should be glad we didn’t burn the fucker down.

For around 60 hours we seized control of the driver’s seat of UCSC, the main economic power and site of social reproduction in the local metropole. In the aftermath, heading towards another seven-day unit of capitalist commodity-time, we feel the deadening of our existence especially sharply in contrast to the fullness of hours spent behind barricades, fighting for our right to our own destinies. It’s clear that the momentum we are part of has grown by leaps and bounds and as the crisis ramifies, we are forming new bonds and new complicities. Young people confronting an absent future are finding each other, recognizing ourselves in others as far away as Greece and Vienna, as near as the streets of LA. We are getting a taste of the power we want and it feels amazing.

There are a number of aspects of the Kerr Hall event that we as participants would like to illuminate.
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A summary commissioned by the antioch rebel newspaper from a participant in the ucsc actions

On Sept. 24, thousands of students, faculty, and staff walked out of University of California campuses across the state. The walk-outs and one-day strike were called by a wide coalition of UC unions and activist groups as a largely symbolic protest against the budget cuts, fee hikes and firings associated with the state budget crisis. At two campuses, however, in Santa Cruz and Berkeley, some people then walked back in and began to initiate occupations. Administrators and activists alike were stunned that the logic of symbolic protest had been abandoned for concrete, insurrectionary activity. Occupation, a tactic which is mostly unfamiliar in the U.S., is widely generalized in many social struggles throughout the world, and points towards new dimensions of struggle and autonomous organization that are likely to prove particularly vital as the economic crisis continues and deepens.

WHAT IS AN OCCUPATION?

An occupation is a break in capitalist reality that occurs when people directly take control of a space, suspending its normal functions and animating it as a site of struggle and a weapon for autonomous power.

Occupations are a common part of student struggles in France, where for example in 2006 a massive youth movement against the CPE (a new law that would allow employers to fire first-time workers who had been employed for up to 2 years without cause) occupied high schools and universities and blockaded transit routes. In 1999, the National Autonomous University of Mexico City was occupied for close to a year to prevent tuition from being charged. Both of these struggles were successful. In Greece and Chile, long and determined student struggles have turned campuses into cop-free zones, which has in turn led to their use as vital organizing spaces for social movement involving other groups like undocumented migrants and indigenous people.

Occupations have not been seen much in the U.S. since the 1970s until 2008 when workers at the Republic Windows and Doors Factory in Chicago occupied the building and won back pay from the bank that foreclosed the factory. In following months, university students in New York City staged several occupations in resistance to the corporatization of their schools. It was this activity which inspired the students in Santa Cruz and Berkeley.

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A Plea from the Undead

October 14, 2009

https://i1.wp.com/www.indybay.org/uploads/2009/09/27/octoposters.pdf_600_.jpgFrom Occupy California:

PLEASE TAKE THE BELOW STATEMENT AND READ IT TO YOUR CLASSES

From the graveyard of history comes a plea from the undead… BE REALISTIC, DEMAND THE IMPOSSIBLE!!!

I sincerely hope that all of you know about the walkout and the student occupation that took place the whole first week of school. The struggle continues, and this message is brought to you by those students who were a part of the occupation as well as those who have joined them in their fight.

One of the most bewildering observations made from the inside of these events, especially the student occupation, was the realization of how symbolically important they were for activists all around the world- within hours a solidarity rally was held in Union Square in New York; letters of solidarity have come groups from all over California, all over the US, as well from as far away as South Africa, Croatia, the UK, Greece, and Italy; The UK Guardian ran an editorial several days ago on the emergence of new student movements that began its story with the UCSC occupation- and here, right in front of us, how unimportant they were for those who passed by and read our banners, looking upon us as if we were no different than some student group in the quad advertising our fraternity of sorority.

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https://i2.wp.com/farm4.static.flickr.com/3652/3460976441_d00877996f.jpgNew School administrative chumps release their version of events of the reoccupation of 65 5th ave on April 10th, 2009.

Download Report here

Highlights:

  • One banner read “April Fools, motherfucker.”  Because the Occupation was on April 10, it is not clear what this banner was intended to suggest.
  • The officer called on police Hazmat units to contain the trash can and the area around it, which was dyed red.
  • In the period between approximately 7:00 a.m. and 9:00 a.m., members of the occupying party, wearing hoods and masks, began appearing on the roof for different intervals of time.  Reports indicate that during these intervals the occupants read a list of complaints regarding the University as well as manifestos criticizing the capitalist system.

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From The Thing –  the spring occupation tournament challenge:

Beautiful and hilarious banners (30pts) [1,2]
Crazy barricades and tons of chains (30pts)
Transform the uses of the space (10pts)
Dramatic rooftop reading of radical text (20pts) [1, txt]
Wild, inventive chants (30pts)
Solidarity means attack! (50pts) [1,2]
Total: 170pts

Lessons Learned
[ + ] Banners: DAMN THESE KIDS ARE CLEVER.
[ + ] Outside support is key. That was badass: [1,2,3]
[ – ] Despite their toughness, more was needed!
[ – ] Don’t expect your social role to lessen police reaction.
[ + ] You have to respond to “repression” with action, not self-victimization and whining.

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“OCCUPY EVERYTHING”

The Battle to Take Back the New School

By BARUCHA CALAMITY PELLER

Owing to pending legal issues, as well as continuing intimidation from school administration towards student organizers, all the New School students are quoted anonymously in this article, at their request. CB.

“We occupied a university building, workers in Chicago occupied their factory, people facing foreclosures have refused to leave their homes. Occupation is not merely a tactic to get some demands met; it is a practical strategy for taking our lives back into our own hands. Let’s occupy everything until everything is ours.” – a student at the New School for Social Research, NY

On Friday, April 10, in the first lights of a cool Manhattan dawn, banging could be heard up to a block away from the four-story New School building at 65 5th Ave, and the sound of chains scraping against metal permeated the silent morning.

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[editor’s note: Kerrey’s message is in normal font, the response is in bold]

Message from President Kerrey to the New School Community

A response to President Kerrey’s message to the New School Community

The past few weeks have seen increased protest actions on and off our campus.  These demonstrations have involved many individuals outside of The New School community and the issues they protest vary. Among their concerns are the war in Iraq, Darfur, homelessness, and the economy.

Mr. Kerrey is quite confused.  The direct concerns are Kerrey and Murtha and their characteristic lack of tact, understanding and ability to run a university.  This includes, but is not limited to the brutality shown by the NYPD on April 10, Mr. Kerrey’s support for the Iraq War and the pressures of the economic downturn on the New School Student body (and students as a whole).  Is it so unreasonable to think that students who care about such things are only self-interested and thus would not be concerned about homelessness and the genocide in Darfur?  I think not.  However, Kerrey seems to forget the part of Thursday’s actions when the rally (predominantly students of The New School, joined in solidarity by students from other NYC Universities) stood outside his home and reminded him that they want him to leave.

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HOLY SHITBALLS! What the fuck happened last night at the New School?

New School in Exile: Video | Photos

by tyler magyar by langnewspaper.

Hundreds of people at the anti-police brutality rally at the 55 w13th st New School building, dozens in Bob Kerrey masks, speaker after speaker condeming the NYPD and the New School’s violent response to the occupation, absurd revolutionaries challenging everyone to OCCUPY EVERYTHING! ABOLISH TIME! and NEGATE NEGATION. The crowd gets pumped and takes the street in front of the building, screaming at the top of their lungs against the structures of abusive authority that surround them – including the  numerous undercover cops and new school-hired private security teams, as well as the FBI, TARU units, and other violent state-sanctioned gangs like them present. The atmosphere becomes raucous and the joy and fear of everyone surges.  DROP THE CHARGES, OCCUPY AGAIN they say.

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Dear friends and colleagues,

We write from Paris, a city where protests, demonstrations, and yes, even building occupations are frequent occurrences; a city whose traditions of creative, robust forms of political expression we admire and one whose
inhabitants regularly manifest what seems to us a healthy dose of self-respect in objecting publicly and forcefully to demeaning and unjust conditions. Having breathed this atmosphere for many months now, we view recent events at the New School in a different light from that reflected in communications we have so far received.

Granted we are far away. And undoubtedly we miss many nuances. Nevertheless, having carefully read all the documents sent to us (student manifestoes, presidential memos, and communiqués from deans, provosts, trustees and individual professors), we can see no justification for the Administration”s resort to police force against the occupiers of 65 Fifth Avenue. Furthermore, we are against proposals to condemn both sides. On the contrary, we urge the faculty to condemn the administration”s action forthwith and to support the right of the demonstrators to their protest, regardless of our agreement or disagreement with their views and goals.
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Students Respond to New School Lies About Occupation

We would like to set the record straight about a few things.

In a series of messages to the New School community by President Bob Kerrey and others, the occupation of 65 5th Avenue on Friday, April 10th, is being painted as violent, and student protesters’ commitment to non-violent demonstration is being questioned. We can debate all day about rhetoric and what has been written by individual students ostensibly involved in the December occupation, or we can look at the actions themselves.

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What is an occupation?

April 12, 2009

Read, print, copy, and distribute these EVERYWHERE

University Occupations: France, Greece, NYC

The New School Occupation (download printable format)


Preoccupied: The Logic of Occupation (download printable formathttps://i0.wp.com/www.indybay.org/uploads/2009/01/31/preoccupied-read.pdf_600_.jpg)

A timeline of events from the re-occupation of the New School building at 65 Fifth Ave

WHAT THE FUCK HAPPENED FRIDAY MORNING?

That’s the question on just about every New School student’s mind right now. Too make a long story short what happened was a peaceful act of civil disobedience and reclaimation of space was violently evicted by the NYPD in cooperation with the New School administration. But here’s the full story:

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Today we witnessed undoubtedly the greatest disgrace in the history of the New School. Students practicing civil disobedience in occupying a mostly vacant school building have been pepper-sprayed, teargassed, beaten, and then arrested. Bob Kerrey is attempting to shift the blame for this absurdly excessive use of violence on the NYPD, which is not entirely false. 100 of cops, at least 1 helicopter, dozens of barricades, violence against supporters, and the violent arrest of the students is the result of NYPD brutality. However, Bob Kerrey also deserves the blame for turning the police loose on the peaceful occupation and working with them every step of the way as violence continued. He further tries to justify this in the most desperate, pathetic, manner imaginable: rewriting the history of the December occupation and fabricating an incidence of violence on the part of students against a security guard.

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