UF SDS on Hunger Strike for Socially Responsible Investment

Posted in student power with tags on April 15, 2008 by Jasper Conner

For the past year UF SDS has been working on a campaign that would ensure UF’s 1.2 billion dollar endowment is not invested in war, environmental destruction, and human rights abuses. We took on this campaign because it looked like a practical and achievable goal that would help our movement in its fight for a more just, sustainable society. After a year of working on this issue and being consistently ignored, misrepresented, patronized, and denied, we felt it was time to bring the campaign to the next level. We considered a multitude of different options and finally decided that a hunger strike had the best potential to achieve our desired result.

On April 9th, 2008, members of UF SDS shared a “last supper” on the steps of Tigert Hall. At least 11 people have committed to some level of participation in this hunger strike, including some that will be consuming nothing but water until our Socially Responsible Investing proposal is accepted by the University of Florida. We need your help in letting the administration know that they can no longer ignore us and our proposal.

We are aware of the seriousness of the step we have taken, and can only reiterate the seriousness of the problem we are confronting – the systematic subjugation of people, cultures, and ecosystems before the almighty dollar. This system operates because it is profitable, and it is profitable because everyday people and institutional investors like UF have sacrificed their own values to cash in on the madness. Our proposal is an attempt to disconnect UF from this cycle and restore some sense of dignity and honor to higher education in the US.

Call school president Bernie Machen and let him know what you think about his refusal to put UF’s money where its mouth is. Ask him if he thinks it is okay if our university is profiting off of war, environmental destruction, and human rights abuses.

Phone: (352) 392-1311
Fax: (352) 392-9506
Email: President@ufl.edu
Office of the President, 226 Tigert Hall, PO Box 113150,
Gainesville, FL 32611

Other administrators you can talk to:

Student Body President: president@sg.ufl.edu

Office of Sustainability Director Dedee DeLongpre: dedee@ufl.edu, (352) 392-1336

Ask them to publicly declare their support for the hunger strikers and their SRI proposal.

Also, please sign our petition: http://www.petitiononline.com/srisds/petition.html

And, join the facebook group for updates: http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=14624337562

Can you organize a call in and letter writing day with your chapter? Every little bit helps. Thanks for your support!

In solidarity,
Gainesville Area SDS

Here is a sample call-in or letter/email script:

Hello, my name is ________ from __________ (school). I am (calling/writing) to urge you to support the socially responsible investment proposal submitted to you by Students for a Democratic Society. Currently, the SRI policy passed by the Board of Trustees provides no measure of accountability to the students or the public. If the University of Florida is to live up to its mission statement of working for the public good, it must realize that its investments should be held to the same standard. I implore you to meet the demands of the students who are on a hunger strike and ensure that the University of Florida will remain at the forefront of the fight for sustainability and responsibility. Thank you.

Strategizing for a Living Revolution

Posted in collective liberation, movement strategy, resistance with tags , , on April 4, 2008 by Jasper Conner

I want to encourage folks to check out an article in the Resources section of Aaron Petcoff’s blog.  I’m sending folks there, instead of to a link of the article because I know how excited I get when I get mad blog hits, so you should follow the link below. The piece was written by George Lakey about movement strategy. By looking at global struggles against repressive regimes, global capitalism, racism, and other systems of domination, Lakey lays out a formula for thinking about systemic change. This piece does way more than teach an extremely smart strategy for broad based change, its also just really inspiring to read about successful movements. Its hard to remember sometimes that winning is a possibility, so check out this piece, get smarter, be inspired, and other generally positive things.

Strategizing for a Living Revolution

DC Students Protest Ridiculous Lunch Policy

Posted in resistance, student power with tags on March 31, 2008 by Jasper Conner

On March 31st, 70 students from from Woodrow Wilson High School in NW DC participated in a walkout during the lunch period. Students were protesting a new policy of Chancellor Rhea. Rhea was a controversial choice for Chancellor of DC public schools considering her lack of experience, and the total absence of community input in her appointment by Mayor Fenty. Rhea has restricted lunch at Woodrow Wilson to the classroom in response to the arrest of students during a recent fight. The walkout, which last thirty minutes was not the only sign of resistance from students that day, as many wore black armbands to signify their discontent. Other students, such as Lena Solow, have been working on a policy to replace Rhea’s current restrictions, stating that “[they’re] not consulting parents, students or teachers”. The Mayor’s office has been repeatedly bungling education in the District, from the appointment of Rhea to the current plan to shut down 17 public schools, so although this ridiculous policy doesn’t come as a surprise, the resistance from students is certainly inspiring.

Some important notes:

Woodrow Wilson High School organizers of these amazing actions should get in touch with DC Students for a Democratic Society by leaving a comment or checking out our website at http://www.dc-sds.org

Folks interested in getting involved in the local struggle to resist Fenty’s destructive education policies should join the Coalition to Save Our Neighborhood Schools.

You should also check out EmpowerDC, a local grassroots organization that does amazing work to resist gentrification, support local schools, and increase government accountability.

___________________

Stats and Quote were pulled from Dion Haynes’ WP articles, linked below.

http://blog.washingtonpost.com/dc/2008/03/wilson_high_students_protest_r.html

http://blog.washingtonpost.com/dc/2008/03/more_on_new_security_policy_at.html

__________________

Ohio Student Environmental Coalition takes action against Coal

Posted in climate justice, resistance with tags , on March 31, 2008 by Jasper Conner
Below is an article about a recent climate justice action in Columbus Ohio where students had a substantial win in the struggle against Coal plants that dominate the lives and lungs of Ohio citizens.

Mountain Justice Takes on King Coal in Columbus

How often do you get to witness a band of activists deploy a direct action and successfully pressure the CEO of a corporation into agreeing to their demands – before the police even arrive on the scene?

AMP HQ - Mountain Justice Comes Knocking

On Friday afternoon, student activists with Ohio Student Environmental Coalition and members of Mountain Justice occupied the lobby of American Municipal Power and forced an impromptu meeting with CEO Mark Gerken – who was not a happy camper.

AMP is planning to build a 1000 MW pulverized coal power plant in Meigs County, Ohio – one of the most impoverished counties in the state, with some of the highest lung cancer and premature death rates due industrial pollution in the country. There are already 4 coal power plants within 10 miles of Meigs and the coal barons of the Midwest are planning on building five more – the largest and dirtiest being the AMP project.

Determined to put an end to this economic and social injustice, concerned Meigs residents have been working with student and youth activists to organize and empower communities to break out of the socio-economic slavery of king coal. Mountain Justice Spring Break – an event where many students, rather than spending their holidays in Florida or Cancun, have opted instead for more meaningful pursuits in building solidarity, developing consensus, discovering affinity and exploring nonviolent direct action – showcased this collaboration over this last week.

Today marked a watershed moment in the movement against King Coal in Ohio. The activists’ demands were simple: cancel plans to build the coal plant, fund renewable energy, and schedule a meeting between the AMP Board of Trustees, local students, and frontline community activists to discuss how AMP can best chart a course towards these goals.

Demands Met - Action Success

So, this morning, about fifty student and youth activists – most of whom had never participated in a direct action – marched to AMP headquarters in Columbus, Ohio, at which point a group of four negotiators entered the building and demanded a meeting with Gerken. Even when confronted by irate AMP employees, the youth negotiators kept their cool and stuck to their demands. They not only managed to meet with Gerken, but also got him to commit to a meeting between students, Meigs County activists and the AMP Board – and to agree that AMP wouldn’t begin construction on the plant until after this meeting has taken place.

This action was part of an ongoing campaign by activists – including residents of frontline communities, and student activists from groups like Mountain Justice, Ohio Student Environmental Coalition, Earth First, and Student Environmental Action Coalition – against AMP’s plans to bring further destruction to Southern Ohio. On a Sunday morning in early March, a group of concerned citizens visited the home of CEO Marc Gerken, and demanded that AMP reconsider its plans to move forward with the plant. (At that point, Gerken brushed off their requests for a meeting.) Earlier this week – as part of the Listening Project – several students visited the homes of Meigs County residents, listened to their concerns about the AMP project, and empowered them to take action and join the campaign against the coal plant.

Today’s action was the biggest step to date in this campaign, and has laid the groundwork for even bigger victories against King Coal in Ohio. Stay tuned for updates on what this collaboration will do next!

Adrian & Ananda in Columbus

William and Mary Campus still in outrage

Posted in resistance, student power with tags , on February 15, 2008 by Jasper Conner

After the Board of Visitors at the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg Va forced President Nichol to resign, students and faculty decided to go on strike and have since been having rallies, vigils, and teach-ins. The chapter of sds at William and Mary called the student strike shortly after a section of the faculty called for a faculty strike. WM sds also put on a teach-in that saw over 400 students talking about the importance of reclaiming our education for ourselves.

Since the WM campus is still extremely upset and angry about the undemocratic decision of the Board of Visitors, students are putting on a forum about the role of the public university. Students are inviting anyone who can come to be a part of this very important discussion and are emphasizing that the current situation at WM isn’t unique. Secretive decisions are the norm for colleges and universities where those most involved in the educational process(students, faculty, and staff) have little to no input in how their campus runs, while absentee boards make the majority of steering decisions.

The event will be happening this Saturday, February 16th from 4pm-6pm in the University Center Atrium. Folks with questions should direct them to Sean Walsh of WM sds (spwals[AT]wm[DoT]edu).

I will do my best to keep this blog updated about all of the unfolding events going down at William and Mary.

Student and Faculty Strike at the College of William and Mary

Posted in resistance, student power with tags , on February 14, 2008 by Jasper Conner

On Tuesday morning, February 12th, the widely-popular and progressive Gene R. Nichol, President of the College, tendered his resignation, following a decision by the Board of Visitors to not renew his contract (set to expire at the end of the academic year). President Nichol bravely denounced the Board of Visitors and their attempt to purchase his silence as to the true reasons for which he was Fired – free speech and broad-minded Change to a traditionally conservative institution. The Board of Visitors, the governing body of the College, is composed of the political appointees of the Governor of Virginia. The majority is not otherwise active members of the William & Mary Community, and has in their decision-making process continuously silenced the Voices of students, staff, faculty, and alumni, who are overwhelming in support of President Nichol and the substantive, progressive Change he has made to this institution in three, short years.

In the wake of the shock of President Nichol’s sudden resignation, members of the Faculty of the College of Arts and Science issued a call for fellow faculty-members to join them in a “Strike”, refusing to hold regular classes on Wednesday (2/13) and Thursday (2/14), during a spontaneous rally of over 500 students, staff, and faculty in support of Our President. Following this announcement, members of the William & Mary Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) announced a student strike in Solidarity with their professors and, unequivocally, Comrades-in-arms. That night, over 1500 students expressed their grief for our community’s loss of a great man by congregating in front of the President’s House to intone to Gene Nichol the Alma Mater of Our College. Students – stunned, grieved, incensed – are experiencing ‘the fierce urgency of Now’.

On wednesday, February 13th, over 400 students and faculty occupied the lobby of the University Center in an informal sit-in to voice their opposition to the dismissal of President Nichol and to the blatant disenfranchisement of their voices at the highest administrative level of Our College. At a subsequent student- and faculty-organized Town Hall Meeting, over 700 members of the William & Mary community gathered to organize their Resistance to the Gross Injustices committed, adopting a list of five tentative demands, overarching points of unity to amalgamate the disparaged and channel their grief and anger toward Constructive ends. Those who are affected most by the decisions of the Board of Visitors now actively express their Opposition to the secrecy and egotism of this distant, aloof body.

On thursday February 14th, the day usually devoted to the capitalistic display of ‘love’, the William & Mary SDS put on a Teach-In, inviting Faculty and Students to join in the Sunken Gardens of Our Old Campus – an active reclamation of education, denying the legitimacy of any attempt to circumscribe the academic freedom of students everywhere – young and old. Over 400 people were in attendence.

As events continue to unfold over the following days, the members of the William & Mary SDS ask our comrades and compatriots throughout the Commonwealth of Virginia and across the country to stand in solidarity and to support our struggle to regain control of Our College. Our message permeates well beyond the confines of our campus. It touches at the very Heart of what it means to be a student of life. Knowledge and the pursuit thereof should be in the hands of those who actively Engage it. Allowing our lives to be dictated by detached strangers amounts to a Denial of the Truth we seek – Freedom.

This was written by Sean Walsh of William and Mary sds, and editted slightly by me.

For interviews with Students, Faculty and Workers at William and Mary about the forced resignation of President Nichol, check out this amazing blog http://wrengateblog.com/

The Students of William and Mary have issued the following set of demands:

Over the past three years, the College of William & Mary has blossomed with increasing civic involvement, expanding academic horizons, and deepening cultural breadth. As students, staff, faculty, and alumni, we are sincerely wed to the direction of this storied institution. A lack of transparency at the highest level regarding recent personnel decisions ignores our profound desire for engagement.

 

Our love of the College drives us to ask for answers, explanation, and course. The events of the previous days have illuminated that the majority of students, staff, faculty, and alumni of the College of William & Mary have been denied a voice.

 

We, William & Mary, demand:

 

  1. Full disclosure regarding the decision not to renew Nichol’s contract, including any vote that took place, and how that vote was influenced.

  2. A review of the process by which the decision was made, in secret, to dismiss Nichol and appoint an interim President.

  3. Rector Powell and the Board of Visitors to come to campus to explain their actions and answer student, staff, and faculty questions. We do not find Rector Powell’s explanation Tuesday morning to be sufficient.

  4. A strong public re-affirmation from the Board of Visitors that the process to choose our next President will fully incorporate student, staff, and faculty voices and concerns in a transparent fashion.

  5. That the staff of the College, like the students and faculty, have a permanent position on the Board of Visitors.

  6. A commitment to continuing the diversity initiatives and dedication to academic freedom and free speech championed by Gene Nichol.

 

     

       

         

           

          Baltimore Algebra Project Die-in at State Capitol

          Posted in Baltimore Algebra Project, resistance, student power with tags , , on February 8, 2008 by Jasper Conner
          The Baltimore Algebra Project, a student-led inter-school coalition of inner city youths, called for a die-in at the State House in Maryland’s state capital of Annapolis. Chanting “No Education, No Life!” 25 members of the Baltimore Algebra Project and their supporters were arrested for presenting a coffin to Governor O’Malley in absentia, representing the social death (and, chillingly pointed out by the picture on the coffin of Zachariah Hallback, a Baltimore Algebra project member who was recently shot to death in a robbery, actual deaths) of students who are denied a proper education. No charges were filed on any of the participants.The Baltimore Algebra Project has been organizing for years around the hundreds of millions of dollars denied to their public school system by current Governor O’Malley. This action was part of a Baltimore City Schools fieldtrip about the current state of affairs of public education in Maryland and on the Southern Freedom Movement of the 1960’s. DC sds accounted for 7 of the 25 arrested on the steps of State House (myelf included). DC sds is very excited to support BAP in all of their amazing organizing efforts and we look forward to future action as a means to building student power in this country and as a way for us to learn from our comradicals to the north who have their shit together.(for expediancy’s sake, some of this text was taken from the DC sds reportback written by Daniel Meltzer, and some of it is mine)

          Coverage:

          http://www.lizardelement.com/dcsds/ – DC sds website
          25 education protesters detained – Baltimore Sun
          Education and Life Celebrated in Streets of Annapolis – Baltimore Independent Media Center
          No Education, No Life goes to Annapolis – Epiphany in Baltimore
          About 24 youths detained in Md. State House protest – WTOP News (Kristen Wyatt, AP)

          Audio:
          24 Students Arrested in Maryland Protesting Funding Cuts (10:53-11:12) – Democracy Now

          Video:
          Students Arrested During Protest in Annapolis – ABC 2 News Video

          Pictures:
          Students stage protest in Annapolis – Baltimore Sun/AP