Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Students & Workers to Confront Chancellor at Public Forum

UCI protest rally organizer Dennis Lopez, 4 January 2010. Photo credit: Daniel C. Tsang © 2010.

A public forum with students and workers confronting UC Irvine Chancellor Michael Drake on the privatization of the UCs is slated for Wednesday 12 January 2010 at 5-6 p.m. at HIB (Humanities Instructional Bldg) 100 on the UC Irvine campus.

High on the student agenda, beyond calling for a reduction in fees and end to privatizing a UC education, is expected to be calls for Drake to control the UCI police, to ban the use of Tasers on campus and to drop charges against Sociology graduate student John Bruning. Some students even want UCI to be made a cop-free zone.

If UCI police meant to silence Bruning, a student protest leader, by arresting him late last year on dubious grounds, it has done the opposite. Bruning in an article in today's New University calls for a ban on Tasers on campus, citing a recent court decision criticizing its use.

Though he is not happy under the spotlight as a student leader whose arrest and his being dragged off by UCI police was captured on video and posted on YouTube, Bruning is likely to use his trial -- if it comes to that -- as a platform to further critique UCI's administration and police tactics. Does UCI really want to provide him such a platform? After all, UC Berkeley dropped all charges against those originally arrested outside the Berkeley Chancellor's home, after windows were broken. At UCI, Bruning is not even charged with breaking windows, just slamming his arm against a glass-paned door to the administration building. I suspect the Orange County District Attorney's office will find there are no grounds to proceed to trial.

Meanwhile unnamed individuals have been posting on campus WANTED posters of Drake and Vice Chancellor Manuel Gomez, charging them with neglecting student needs among other undocumented allegations. The reward: Their salaries, the amounts of which are emblazoned at the bottom of the posters, which stayed up only hours before being removed by also unnamed individuals.

These and other WANTED posters remain online, on the so-called Communist Party Planning Committee site, targeting, in addition to Drake and Gomez, Sharon Salinger (Dean of Undergraduate Education), Assoc. Dean Caesar Sereses, Police chief Paul Henisey, officer Charles Chon, new Dean of Students Assistant Vice Chancellor Rameen Talesh, and Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost Michael Gottfredson. The CP Planning Committee is likely a parody of the name and the WANTED posters a provocative escalation of tactics.

The fact that these wanted posters with salary numbers haven't been widely posted on campus perhaps suggests a hesitancy among the protesters, who are by no means a unified whole. We link them here to inform the public.

As for the targets, just to mention two more: Salinger is the UCI administrator who wiped out a key student services resource, SAAS, the Student Academic Advancement Services, and subsequently asserted on KUCI's Subversity show that the services, which were partially refunded by the U.S. Department of Education, would continue under another name, although the former SAAS director and staff were let go.

Talesh in a letter in today's New University, while declaring UCI's commitment to protect free speech rights, argues there is a "time and place" for student protests, but not when they disrupt classes.

The text of the student/worker endorsed statement, distributed via email originally yesterday, follows:

Dear Campus Community:

In the past 3 months, we've seen changes and decisions made at the UC system that many of us wouldn't have dreamed of. Undergraduate fees have risen 32%, faculty, staff, and campus workers have been laid off and furloughed, classes have been cut, and the library hours have been reduced. To add insult to injury, essential services on campus have also been terminated, such as Student Academic Advancement Services (which ran Summer Bridge), Counseling Center staff has been cut, and financial aid has been decreasing. We all have questions about our futures in the UC system: How will the cuts affect us? How will we continue to afford UCI? What job prospects will we have after we graduate?

In response to the growing discontent and anger over the budget cuts on campuses across the state, a broad coalition of students has organized a Public Forum at UCI to discuss the important changes affecting our university. Chancellor Drake has been invited to attend and participate, which he has agreed to do, along with other key administrators at UCI. We urge all of the UCI community -- students, workers, faculty, staff -- to attend and raise questions about the decisions being made on our behalf for the future of the University of California and public education more generally.

Sponsored by:
Black Student Union
American Indian Student Association
Asian Pacific Student Association
Alyansa ng mga Kababayan
Radical Student Union
Worker Student Alliance
Muslim Student Union
Women and Criminal Justice Network
Incite Magazine
Defend UCI
University Council-AFT, Local 2226
AFSCME, Local 3299
Alud, The Graduate Student Journal of the Dept. of Spanish and Portuguese

No comments: