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Sunday, November 21, 2010

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Against the Mind-forg'd manacles

In every cry of every Man,
In every Infants cry of fear,
In every voice; in every ban,
The mind-forg'd manacles I hear 
---William Blake

Following their very successful demonstration of November 10, where somewhere around 50,000 made their way to London to protest the proposed elimination of governmental support for university teaching and the reduction of the students to debtors, UK students and faculty will take once more to the streets in London on the 24th of November.  Despite the size of the protest, the Coalition government has insisted that they will not retreat in their commitment to oversee the long-term elimination of university arts and humanities while reducing higher education to an appendage of business and the immediate labor market.

Strikingly, the English students, teachers, and allies are protesting against an arrangement that has long been the fundamental reality for US higher education--increasing student debt, declining government supports for higher education, the transformation of students into consumers, the redefinition of education as a commodity purchased on the market as a private good rather than a public trust promoted as a common good.  Equally striking are the protesters' attempts to make common cause between the transformation of higher education financing and the larger Conservative and Liberal Democratic effort to reduce security for the poor and the elderly.  As in the United States, the government seems determined to produce a general state of social insecurity.  A petition in solidarity with the protesters can be found here.

Closer to home, of course, the Regents last week decided once again to raise tuition on students.  We will have more analysis on that in the near future.  But for now I wanted to highlight two separate--although interrelated--points.  The first is that the increase in fees comes right on the heels of renewed efforts by the Obama-Bowles-Simpson deficit commission to justify cuts in social security and the reduction of aid to the working and middle-classes while promoting tax breaks for corporations.  As with the Regents, those in power are making "hard choices"--although for some reason they seem to be "hard" only in their effects on the less fortunate.

The second point worth noting is that in the aftermath of the Regents decision and the questions raised about police conduct at the Regents meeting, campus police at both Berkeley and UCI apparently have attempted to close off free speech and protest opportunities.  At Berkeley, for example, police have been reported as having torn down posters protesting police action and threatening to cite students and others for distributing the flyers.  Bronwen provided links to some of these incidents in her comments on Pop The Mace.  You can find additional information here and here. The latter also gives a photo of the poster in question.  Please check out the links and see for yourself.



Bob Samuels said...

I have a discussion on the Regents move against free speech and shared governance: http://changinguniversities.blogspot.com/2010/11/regents-take-strong-stance-against-free.html

Bronwen Rowlands said...

Seditious chalking update from UCI, featuring the infamous officer Kemper:

sff said...

I’m a student from Bangladesh. I want to get admission in your University. I found Your University address from sromobazar.com.Can I apply from the site to you? Do you have any agent in Bangladesh?
Pls reply me at somorita131@gmail.com

anonstaff said...

sff: obviously this person has not read the news about how much non-resident tuition has gone up at Berkeley!

cloudminder said...

The local ACLU has written a letter to UC-Berkeley PD- you can view it here:


Catherine Liu said...

I think all UC student protest groups should be reaching out to Police Unions, and trying to find out how much they have been suffering from CA budget cuts. It's time to stop making the same mistakes from the 60s protest culture and to start making alliances with blue and white collar workers/civil servants, school teachers, AFSCME, SEIU, UAW workers on and off campus in order to educate ourselves and each other about what our long term struggle is about. Who is the police union rep in Berkeley? at UCI? Let's meet with them and learn about their issues.

cloudminder said...

in san francisco the recent proposition B failed because unions stood with first responders (fire, police etc)
but i guess its been forgotten?!
(this was the same proposition warren hellman was for before he was against it)

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