– For more than 10 weeks now, French universities have been disrupted by strikes, mass meetings, demonstrations and occupations as a daily occurrence in an unheard-of wave of protest by university staff and students against President Nicolas Sarkozy’s neoliberal reforms of higher education.

A dozen mass demonstrations with tens of thousands of people have been held, motorway tollbooths have been occupied and university council meetings invaded. Parallel university lectures, in streets, shopping centres or on trams have been used to help popularise the movement that shows no sign of stopping.

In a spectacular action known as “The springtime of the chairs”, all the chairs were removed from many universities to stop classes and used to build protest sculptures. “University all night long” events were organised while in front of the Paris town hall there is a permanent march, 24 hours a day, that began three weeks ago.

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The Battle to Take Back the New School


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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Up go the barricades as universities voice anger at Sarkozy

French Students Hold Administrators Hostage, Block Traffic In Paris

French universities in chaos over Sarkozy reforms

French Student Protesters Disrupt Paris’s Academic Core and Seize Presidents’ Offices Elsewhere

Student Protesters Take Radical Measures in France

Being president of a French university is a tough job these days. After the violent assault on Rennes 2 University on April 6, universities in Strasbourg and Orleans were also besieged by angry students on April 7.

In Rennes, west of France, the president of the university, Marc Gontard, had to flee from his office when more than 100 students broke the windows and entered the building. “The president’s office has been attacked. We are up in the stairs waiting for external help,” said Gontard in a phone call to French press agency AFP. Following this, close to 150 students in the eastern city of Strasbourg forced their way into the general council room, preventing 30 directors of research and study courses from leaving, according to media reports. At the same time, in the central city of Orleans 60 students entered the office of University President Gérald Guillaumet, keeping him prisoner for the afternoon. Finally, in Paris a student mob sequestrated the head of the organization in charge of granting scholarships and university rooms. Police had to use force to free the manager.

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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 format