Quantcast

StudentNation | The Nation

  •  
StudentNation

StudentNation

Campus-oriented news, first-person reports from student activists and journalists about their campus.

We Are All Québécois!


Demonstrators protest against student tuition hikes in downtown Montreal, Quebec, May 22, 2012. Tens of thousands marched on Tuesday in a rally marking 100 days of student protests. The banner reads, "towards social strike". REUTERS/Christinne Muschi 

This is what international solidarity looks like.

Below is a statement of solidarity from Chilean academics and student leaders with the ongoing student protests in Montréal, Québéc, Canada. (English translation via Translating The Revolution.)

We Are All Québécois!

We the undersigned, Chilean academics and student leaders, denounce to national and international public opinion the persecution of the student movement in Québéc, Canada, expressed in Act 78, which was enacted on Thursday, May 19 by the government of Prime Minister Jean Charest.

Act 78—or the “Loi Matraque” (Rattle Law)—is the harshest since the War Measures Act in October 1970. It has been denounced by the President of the Bar of that province, as well as by Amnesty International, the Human Rights League, the four main trade unions, and various academic bodies.

It co-opts the fundamental freedoms of the citizens of Québéc by fundamentally restricting freedom of expression, freedom to demonstrate, and freedom of assembly, which are enshrined in both the Constitution and Québéc’s Charter of Rights. This law affects not only the students who have been on strike for fifteen weeks against higher tuition, but also all citizens—particularly teachers, academics, and workers, whose rights of expression and assembly are being affected.

Amongst these measures we denounce those that prevent spontaneous demonstrations of any group of more than fifty persons; the prohibition on protesting within fifty meters of a school; and the strengthening of police power by allowing police to decide at any time if a demonstration is legal or illegal, or if someone is an agitator.

By the same token, this law punishes any public expression of support for the demonstrations. For example, nobody in Québéc during a conflict may prevent the entry of students to colleges and universities, on pain of individual fines, fines to the student association or unions they belong to, as well as fines to union and student leaders. These penalties range from CA$1,000 to CA$125,000. Student leadership have announced they will challenge this law in court for being unconstitutional, and they have called for solidarity from all citizens.

The people of Québéc have for years stood by the Chilean people with their active solidarity. That’s why today we feel called to express and demonstrate our fullest solidarity with their student organizations and their leaders, with their labor unions, and with all citizen activists.

We do this for solidarity, but also because we understand that any attack against the freedoms of any place in the globalized world is an attack on our freedoms.

The so-called “Ley Hinzpeter” (Hinzpeter Law) driven by the Chilean government is part of the same repressive and undemocratic perspective.

The struggle of students, academics, and workers in Québéc is also our struggle.

Santiago de Chile, May 24, 2012.

In Quebec, A Revolution of Love, Hope and Community

This report was originally published by Rabble.ca.

In almost every report on the social movement now sweeping Quebec, including my own, words like conflict, crisis and stand-off figure prominently. Anger is omnipresent. The anger of protesters, the anger of government, the anger of those supposedly inconvenienced. Pundits scream about mob rule, anarchy in the streets and the dissolution of society as we know it.

Don't get me wrong, there is anger present of course. But that is not what you see if you take to the streets, or watch on CUTV's live stream. Pundits can't stop bemoaning the inconvenience to "ordinary" Montrealers posed by these protests. But I wonder, are there any "ordinary" Montrealers left to inconvenience?

As I write these words there are demonstrations going on in every neighborhood of Montreal. "Casseroles", where people leave their houses to bang pots in the street every night at 8PM, have led to marches everywhere. The police cannot keep up. Far flung suburbs like Vaudreuil and Île Perrot, the anglophone West Island and NDG, South Shore suburbs, Québec City, Sherbrooke, Gatineau, Rimouski, Trois Rivières and the list goes on. Some of these places have never seen a demonstration, certainly not since the days of the quiet revolution. Now their streets swell with hundreds, thousands.

The prevailing question in the media is, how do we end this? Supporters and opponents alike seek a "solution" to put an end to the "crisis". And we need one, those on the streets need to be heard. Actions need to be taken to address the demands of the masses. But what exactly is so bad about what is happening? Why do we need it to end so urgently?

As this movement goes on, and grows by leaps and bounds, it is increasingly clear that it is not a movement of anger, of rage or of hate. It is a movement of love, of community and of hope. People who would be alone in their houses watching TV take to the streets and march with neighbors they never knew they had. Back when we had real communities, they were driven by the coming together of neighbors each night. Instead of watching TV, we met in the street, we exchanged details of our day and we made plans for our future. Just as the "casseroles" cause us to do now.

Perhaps the most lasting effect of this movement will be to build stronger, more connected communities. Every day that it goes on, more of us meet in the street, build relationships and talk about what kind of a society we want.

This is what Charest is afraid of. This is what keeps the powerful awake at night. If we talk, if we exchange ideas and debate the future of our society, we will want to change it. And nothing terrifies the powerful more than a change to the system which gives them their power.

The most honest reason which can be given for why people are in the street is the simplest. We do not see ourselves reflected in our government. But we see ourselves, our concerns, our hope, our love and our aspirations, reflected in every smiling face we see on the street. For the first time in a long time we are having a real conversation about what kind of society we want. We're having it with each other, every night when we meet in the streets. And slowly, but surely, we are realizing that we have the power to make our dreams a reality.

Over at Translating the Printemps Erable, a superb volunteer collective dedicated to translating French articles about the movement into English, the administrator recently posted an Open Letter to the Mainstream English Media. It is perhaps the best description of this incredible phenomenon I have yet seen. In it they bemoaned the coverage which focuses on anger, when what we see in the streets is love. They describe the nightly "casseroles" like this:

"If you do not live here, I wish I could properly convey to you what it feels like ... It is magic. It starts quietly, a suggestion here and there, and it builds. Everybody on the street begins to smile. I get there, and we all—young and old, children and students and couples and retirees and workers and weird misfits and dogs and, well, neighbours—we all grin the widest grins you have ever seen while dancing around and making as much noise as possible. We are almost ecstatic with the joy of letting loose like this, of voicing our resistance to a government that seeks to silence us, and of being together like this. I have lived in my neighbourhood for five years now, and this is the most I have ever felt a part of the community; the lasting impact that these protests will have on how people relate to each other in the city is deep and incredible."

This video was attached. It is a simple, black and white video of one night in the life of nos casseroles, but it has gone viral, encapsulating as it does the joy and togetherness of our movement.

We walk past each other every day, but we do not smile. We do not stop to talk, we do not connect. In these protests, in the breast of this movement, we are remembering what it is to work together to make our world a better place. We used to know, in some far distant past, but we have forgotten.

Many in this movement are mad at the media. But in many ways it is not the fault of the journalists, or the pundits who cling to the status quo like a drowning man grasps a life raft.

If you try to understand this movement through the lens of politics as usual, you are doomed to failure. This is a spontaneous, joyful uprising. It is not Astroturfed, it does not depend on the media or the political parties, or even the unions or student groups for oxygen. It is a fire which has slumbered in our bellies for so long, silent and nearly forgotten.

What the critics and the pundits do not understand is that they are no longer in control. People will no longer nod and agree with their paper, their TV. They can diminish it, can under-report our numbers and exaggerate our violence, but it doesn't matter. Their words and their barbs cannot defeat the solidarity and love which flows through our streets each night.

People don't need the media to tell them what is happening outside their door. They can hear it. They can feel it. The genie cannot go back in the bottle. We are awake, truly awake for the first time in a long time. We will not go back to sleep.

I started to notice after the passage of Bill 78, and the mass demonstration of May 22, a change. Not only in the streets, but online. As the "casseroles" spread, so did their footprint on the social networks through which we express ourselves. Friends who had always hated protests, right wingers, misanthropes, apolitical types and everyone in between began to post pictures of themselves with pots and pans outside their house.

My Facebook feed, which is normally full of cute pictures and a hodge podge of random posts, unified. It coalesced in a way I had never seen before. I now notice, and am surprised, if I see a single post unrelated to this movement.

Twitter, which had largely been ignored by Francophone Quebeckers, is now swollen with tweets about the protests. The way we come together in the streets has spread to our online presence. We share and comment and talk. We come together as citizens of a community, galvanized by a common cause.

This movement may yet fail. It may be co-opted, or lose track of its goals. It may fizzle or be beaten, as so many other movements have been. But there can be no denying that something extraordinary is happening in Quebec.

If we, as a society, as a people, are to make a stand against the governments which cut taxes on the rich and corporations and then plead poverty as they dismantle our society, our communities, it will be here.

If a line in the sand will be drawn, it is here, in the streets of Quebec. The battle for a better world starts in this city. This glorious, madcap city whose joie de vivre flows through the veins of each and every one of us like a river.

Join us, speak your solidarity from the rooftops, call out our name. Because here in these streets, has started a revolution. A fire which burns for a better world.

Call me an idealist, call me a dreamer, call me anything you like. But this is a moment in time we will tell our children about. Together, we can start something here that spreads like wildfire across this continent. What happens next is up to us.

To paraphrase Robert Frost: Two roads diverged in a wood, and we - we took the one less traveled by, And that has made all the difference.

Pots and Pans Protest Goes Viral

Posted on May 23, this powerful black and white film shows protesters of all ages, races and hues taking to the streets to protest Canada's emergency law Bill 78, a draconian attempt to quell massive student protests over tuition hikes that have taken over Quebec for more than 100 days.

The nightly “casseroles” march began with a Facebook callout on May 19 from a politics professor outside Montreal, the Guardian reported. People were told to meet on the street at 8 pm with pots and pans and make as much noise as they could. The pots-and-pans protest has its roots in Chile, where people have used it for years as an effective, peaceful tool to express popular defiance.

It appears to be taking off as a new symbol of resistance and solidarity and it’s reinvigorated the Montreal student movement.

BU Speaker's Plea: Vote, Speak Out, Organize

This article was originally published by the alumni publication BU Today.


Watch this video on YouTube

People in other countries have risked their lives to achieve the freedoms Americans take for granted, and sometimes ignore. Can you handle something as simple as voting and speaking your mind to make your country better?

Sandra L. Lynch (LAW’71) laid that challenge before graduating seniors in her Baccalaureate address at Marsh Chapel Sunday, exhorting them to reject what she called the era’s prevalent cynicism. Lynch, chief judge for the U.S Court of Appeals for the First Circuit, spoke as someone who has extended her gender’s freedoms: she was the first woman jurist on her court and in several legal posts before that. She also spoke as someone who has practiced what she preached, describing how she was teargassed and cursed during protest marches for civil rights and against the Vietnam War.

“Some say they have no faith in government to address problems,” Lynch told the near-capacity crowd, which was sprinkled with scarlet-robed graduating students. “It would be reasonable for you to ask whether the fact that our democracy has not failed us in the past is any assurance at all that it will lead you to solve the problems that we face. My response is that our democratic form of government and the tools the Constitution gives you provide some of the best ways you have of addressing those problems.

“If you do not use those tools, including your right to vote, to speak, to organize in order to assure government will be honest, responsive, and relevant, the chances of your coming to solutions are considerably less,” she continued. “We give into your hands the safekeeping of our Constitution and our democracy. Please, we ask you, keep them safe and flourishing.”

Lynch fortified her call to civic participation by quoting one of BU’s most famous graduates—“There is nothing in the world greater than freedom,” said Martin Luther King, Jr. (GRS’55, Hon.’59)—and by citing a chapter from BU’s history. In 1967, she recalled, activist Bill Baird gave a lecture on birth control before 2,500 BU students. He had arranged beforehand to give contraceptive foam to an unwed 19-year-old student. That act violated a Massachusetts law against giving contraception to unmarried people, which Baird and the young woman wanted to challenge. Following his arrest, the court on which Lynch would later serve ruled the law unconstitutional, and the US Supreme Court followed suit in 1972.

Baird’s student partner and her peers attending the lecture “wanted to change an unjust law and to expand the protection of individual freedoms,” Lynch said.

Lynch’s career includes numerous examples of her work for the responsive government she exhorted graduates to bring about. For example, her dissent from a court ruling that rape didn’t meet the legal definition of serious bodily harm prodded Congress to amend the law in 1996.

Interns’ Favorite Pieces of the Week (5/16/12)

Our media coverage is often dominated by one big story that crowds out nearly everything else. As an antidote, every week, Nation interns try to cut through the echo chamber and choose one good article in their area of interest that they feel should receive more attention. Please check out their favorite stories below, watch for this feature each week and use the comments section below to alert us to any important articles you feel warrant broader attention.

 

Laura Bolt focuses on human rights and revolution.

Russia's Protest Movement Shows Staying Power, Despite Today's Dispersal,” by Fred Weir. The Christian Science Monitor, May 16, 2012. 

Russia's protest movement is alive and well in Moscow, where a group of dissenters relocated their "democracy preserve" after police broke up their ten-day encampment this week. While anti-Putin activists have been clashing with police and local residents, as this article shows, they remain committed to their Occupy-style tactics. Russia's young protestors have proven to be adept at using social media to further their cause, which is how this camp was able to reorganize so quickly. In the words of one protestor: "Resistance can take a lot of forms."

 

Zoë Carpenter focuses on the intersection of economics, health and the environment.

How Your College Is Selling Out to Big Ag,” by Tim Philpott. Mother Jones, May 9, 2012.

Corporations increasingly co-opt national scientific research infrastructure to their own ends, notably in the pharmaceutical, medical and environmental fields. Tom Philpott turns his attention to agrichemical giant Monsanto's takeover of America's agricultural research universities, which effectively allows the company to set the national agenda when it comes to agriculture policy. Money in science is like money in politics: it corrupts, and in the case of agriculture, it is small-scale farmers and consumers around the world who pay the price.

 

Umar Farooq focuses on the worldwide movement for democracy.

National and International Campign for the Freedom of Political Prisoners in Chiapas Presses On,” by Jessica Davies. Upside Down World, May 11, 2012.

More than a decade after the EZLN uprising in Chiapas, activists associated with the rebellion continue to be falsely imprisoned. Two cases of prominent activists being jailed on what are likely trumped up charges are highlighted here.

 

Loren focuses on peace, power and political culture. 

Committee Overwhelmingly Passes the FY13 National Defense Authorization Act.” House Armed Services Committee, May 10, 2012.

Last week, the House Armed Services Committee (HASC) passed the Fiscal Year 2013 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) and approved $554 billion in specific expenditures for next year’s Department of Defense base budget and $88.5 billion for Overseas Contingency Operations—i.e. war-fighting. The bill is now being considered and debated by the full House of Representatives and is chock full of spending on defense programs and projects that scarcely endorse the notion of a constrained budgetary environment. One provision, offered by Representative Michael Turner, who is the Chairman of the HASC's Subcommittee on Strategic Forces, would spend $100 million on a study of possible locations for East Coast missile defense interceptors that don’t work and that the US Missile Defense Agency hasn’t requested. Representative Buck McKeon, the Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, called the NDAA “the gold standard for Congressional bipartisanship.”

 

Connor Guy focuses on racism and race relations.

WATCH: Strategist Behind Proposed Reverend Wright Attack Ad Has Long History Of Race-Baiting,” by Annie-Rose Strasser. ThinkProgress, May 17, 2012.

With this, Think Progress provides the necessary back story to the New York Times story out today about the race-baiting GOP media consultant Fred Davis's plan to exploit an angle that even McCain wouldn't touch in 2008—President Obama's supposed "connection" to Reverend Jeremiah Wright. (Yes, this is the proposal that calls Obama "a metrosexual, black Abe Lincoln.") Davis has a long history of making race-baiting that speak to conservative fears, and his distorted messaging should be followed closely.


Ebtihal Mubarak focuses on human rights.

Saudi Feminism: Between Mama Amreeka and Baba Abdullah,” by Nora Abdulkarim. Jadaliyya, May 14, 2012.

Women's rights activists in Saudi should listen carefully to this sincere advice from Saudi blogger Nora Abdulkarim: “Saudi feminism does not have to be a story of ‘Mama Amreeka’ coming to the rescue, or ‘Baba Abdullah’ choosing to ‘grant’ her rights. Feminism based on pride in its demand for civil rights, not pity, is worthy of praise. Feminism based on Power in the face of an oppressive state, not timidness, is the aim.”

 

Hannah Murphy focuses on sex and gender.

4 Worst Media Misrepresentations of North Carolina's Anti-Gay Amendment One,” by Kristin Rawls. AlterNet, May 13, 2012.

In the wake of Obama's announcement in support of gay marriage, the passage of North Carolina's Amendment One was construed in the media as a decision made by “poor inbred” southerners. AlterNet deconstructed the coverage, showing how it was misrepresented, and what, in fact, led to the passage of Amendment One—reflecting on what it could mean for similar amendments to come.

 

James Murphy focuses on migration in the 21st century.

The Lovable Ms Lee.” The Economist, May 12, 2012.

“And now, the end is near. And so I face, the final curtain.” Somewhere new for the last edition of my immigration series—South Korea, the “world's most rapidly aging country.” The subject of this Economist article is Ms. Jasmine Lee, the first foreign-born South Korean to win a seat in the National Assembly. Her story is an important first chapter in that country's demographically-forced acceptance of immigration. 


Erin Schikowski focuses on the politics and business of healthcare.

Bridge to Health Reform 'Undoable' in San Luis Obispo,” by John Gonzales. California HealthCare Foundation, May 16, 2012.

In San Luis Obispo, California, Health Agency Director Jeff Hamm reluctantly chose not to participate in the Bridge to Reform (or Low Income Health) program, which would have provided free health coverage for the poor. In this piece, John Gonzales looks to San Luis Obispo as a case study and raises questions about why the county opted out of the program.

 

Elizabeth Whitman focuses on the Syrian uprising, its implications and the wildly varied domestic and international reactions.

Jordan struggling as Syrian refugees stream across the border.” Public Radio International, May 16, 2012. 

Jordan has always been a refugee destination, beginning with Palestinians decades ago and continuing with Libyans, especially those seeking medical treatment, and now Syrians. But Jordan's hospitality and resources are inevitably being strained as it struggles to provide housing, health care and education for Syrian refugees, whose stays are open-ended, while continuing to ensure that its own citizens have the same basic necessities. Meanwhile, international funds to help Jordan host these refugees have yet to materialize.

Quebec Considers Draconian Anti-Protest Law

This article was originally published at the invaluable Studentactivist.net and is reposted here with permission. Follow to keep up with its regular reporting.

Quebec’s legislature, shaken by the province’s ongoing student strike, is now debating passage of an emergency anti-protest law that the chair of the Quebec bar association calls “a breach to the fundamental, constitutional rights” of its citizens.

The legislation, known as Bill 78, would mandate an end to the strike, impose extraordinary restrictions on demonstrations and impel local student associations to prevent their members from engaging in illegal protest. It would impose harsh fines for violations of provisions one legal experts say “are written so vaguely they’re impossible to respect,” while threatening student activists with the dissolution of their student unions in the case of non-compliance.

Key provisions of the bill as presented to the legislature:

  • All classes at campuses currently participating in the student strike will be immediately suspended, with the remainder of the spring semester delayed until August.
  • It would become a crime for an individual or organization to “directly or indirectly contribute” to the blocking of a campus, with those terms left undefined in the bill. Organizations would be held responsible for the actions of their members in this regard, whether those members were acting with organizational sanction or not.
  • Student associations and federations would be required to “employ appropriate means to induce” their members to comply with the law.
  • Student associations and regional federations that violated the law would have their funding and use of campus facilities cut for one semester for each day of campus closure.
  • Campuses whose student associations were shuttered under this provision would not be permitted to establish interim associations while the suspensions were in place.
  • “Any form of gathering that could result” in an interference with the functioning of a college would be banned at all campuses, and for a 50-meter radius surrounding them.
  • Organizers of any demonstration larger than ten people would be required to submit the time, location, duration, and other information to the police eight hours in advance. The police would have the authority to amend any of the proposed parameters.
  • Organizers of such demonstrations would be held criminally liable if the demonstrators deviated from police-approved parameters, as would associations participating in such demonstrations, even if they were not the organizers.
  • Students who violated the act could be fined as much as $5,000. Representatives of student groups that did so could face personal fines of as much as $35,000. Organizations violating the act could face fines of up to $125,000.All such fines would be doubled for subsequent offenses.

Wow.

Students Fight Money in Politics

This article was originally published by Huff Po College.

The odds might seem slim that two university students from different coasts, backgrounds and interests would be focusing their activism toward the same goal. But in the fight to get corporate money out of politics, Ariel Boone of U.C. Berkeley and Falon Shackelford of Howard University in Washington, DC are an unlikely team. The unfair corporate influence in our elections affects us all -- for the many young people struggling to afford college, the idea that their tuition dollars may end up trickling down to Super PACs and funding attack ads is appalling. Students across the country who believe that tuition money should ultimately be invested in education instead of politics are taking action -- and starting with their own campuses.

Everyone should have an equal vote in our elections. But everyone should also have an equal voice in influencing electoral outcomes. Unfortunately, the Supreme Court's decision in Citizens United put that ideal in jeopardy. Now able to spend more than ever before, major corporations are stacking the deck in their favor and drowning out the people's voice. Here's the kicker: the money these corporations are spending in politics is actually our money. Corporate money in politics affects everyone, even students, because the endowments of many colleges and universities invest those funds with corporations that make secret political contributions.

Many students live the values of their university, but that doesn't mean we should have to live the values of the corporations that manage its money. Once your dollar gets in the hands of a corporation like Bank of America, all bets are off. Students are less than thrilled about becoming indirect underwriters of the American Legislative Exchange Council,private prisons companies, subprime loans, and other unsavory corporate activities.

The worst part is that we often don't know how this money is used because corporations don't have to tell us. One thing is certain: a large amount of it ends up funding the constant bombardment of election ads that influence the outcomes of elections across the country. This system of secret donations and disproportionate corporate influence doesn't look anything like the system most of us learned about in civics class. Those who would prefer to not do business with such corporations are seeing their efforts thwarted by their own universities -- and they're demanding the power to say no. And by moving your money into a bank or credit union that invests locally and responsibly, Ariel says, "you can create change in California and the UC system in a matter of seconds."

With leadership like this, young people are taking action and sending a loud and clear message to corporations: leave democracy to the people and stop spending money on politics. In her capacity as a student senator at U.C. Berkeley, Ariel Boone introduced and helped pass a resolution that withdrew the student government's $3.5 million treasury from Bank of America. Across the country at Howard University, Falon Shackelford helped organize fellow students to participate in demonstrations at local Bank of America branches as part of a nationwide protest against corporate political spending. These demonstrations were part of a larger action by good government activists, which culminated with shareholder resolutions calling on Bank of America and 3M to refrain from spending on elections and to disclose their political activities.

By taking different approaches but focusing on the same goal, students are making their voices heard and making real change. Fighting for the integrity of our democracy is a common bond that unites us all. Our future depends on it.

Students Rally to Occupy Graduation

On April 25, 2012, the unprecedented debt of American students surpassed the trillion-dollar mark. Consequently, students at small and large colleges and universities across the nation will use their final moments as collegians - graduation ceremonies - to wear blow up ball-and-chain shackles and other symbolic props that reflect what lays ahead for them. Institutions signed up to participate in this nationwide demonstration include, George Washington University (graduation ceremony - Thursday, May 17), CU, Boulder (Friday, May 11) and the University of North Carolina (Sunday, May 13), where New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg will conduct the commencement speech honors.

Occupy Graduation was an idea formed by the collective voices and initiatives of OccupyWallSt.org, Occupy Colleges, Occupy Student Debt, Occupy Together,  Ben Cohen, from Ben and Jerry’s ice cream; Rebuild the Dream, “Default: The Student Loan Documentary,” Workhouse, OWSPR, Backbone Campaign, Occupy Student Debt, EDU Debtors Union, Forgive Student Loan Debt and Wear Your Debt.

Occupy Graduation urges students to participate. Signing up is as easy as organizing a group of 10 or more students and then visiting the Occupy Graduation website. Please note, this demonstration is meant as a way to express student frustration without unduly disrupting graduation or disrespecting the meaning of this event for classmates and parents.

Organizing students interested in more ideas on how to effectively and respectfully be “heard” on graduation are encouraged to visit Occupy Graduation. The site is even offering students interested in wearing the staple ball-and-chain props, but unable to purchase them for financial reasons, can contact Occupy Graduation for a reduced rate.

Interns’ Favorite Pieces of the Week (5/9/12)

Our media coverage is often dominated by one big story that crowds out nearly everything else. As an antidote, every week, Nation interns try to cut through the echo chamber and choose one good article in their area of interest that they feel should receive more attention. Please check out their favorite stories below, watch for this feature each week and use the comments section below to alert us to any important articles you feel warrant broader attention.

 

Laura Bolt focuses on human rights and revolution.

Russia: Investigate Police Use of Force Against Peaceful Protesters,” Human Rights Watch, May 8, 2012.

This letter, in which Human Rights Watch urges Russia to investigate abuses against protestors by police, details police misconduct during the protests of May 6th and 7th. The letter alleges that the actions of some violent protestors became a blanket excuse for police to engage in "excessive use of force against protesters and arbitrary detentions" against those participating peacefully in actions. Though protests have been occurring intermittently since December, this is the first violent action recorded by HRW.

 

Zoë Carpenter focuses on the intersection of economics, health and the environment. 

Diary: In Fukushima,” by Rebecca Solnit. London Review of Books, May 10, 2012.

Rebecca Solnit has a track record for shining new light on high-profile disasters, and this time she turns her attention to last year's tsunami and nuclear meltdown in Japan. In her lyrical narrative, Solnit probes the disasters' impact on the relationship between citizens and the Japanese government, focusing on the alienation and distrust that many Japanese felt after the coupled disasters.

 

Umar Farooq focuses on the world-wide movement for democracy.

For Israel, Punishing Palestinians Is Not Enough,” by Amira Hass. Haaretz, May 2, 2012.

Nearly 2,000 Palestinian prisoners in Israel have been on hunger strike for weeks now, demanding improvements in prison conditions and the lifting of restrictions like the one on family visits. Israel's open-ended detention policy has touched the lives of many Palestinians; almost all males have been to prison or have family members who have. Since this piece by Amira Hass, Israel's highest court has refused the appeal of two hunger strikers that were challenging their detention. With international pressure from the UN and human rights groups mounting, it is unclear if Israeli authorities will make concessions.

 

Loren Fogel focuses on peace, power, and political culture. 

Military-Crippling Sequester Must Be Stopped,” by Reps. Buck McKeon and Paul Ryan. Real Clear Politics, May 9, 2012.

As Chairmen of the House Armed Services and Budget Committees, Representatives Buck McKeon and Paul Ryan wrote today of the need to “spare our troops from the consequences of Washington's failures.” With the prospect of sequestration or across the board budget cuts still looming over the inability of Congress and the White House to come to consensus on federal budgetary priorities, the Chairmen, along with an overwhelming majority of their Republican colleagues in Congress, are choosing to protect the bloated defense budget over food stamp programs and federal employee pensions. Notice how their article is wrapped around a large ad for Lockheed Martin, which is one of the largest defense contractors in the world and a company that has secured the most expensive defense project of all time. It is estimated that the F-35 fighter jet program will cost $1.51 trillion over its life cycle.

 

Connor Guy focuses on racism and race relations. 

Elizabeth Warren’s Native American Question,” by Amy Davidson. The New Yorker, May 8, 2012.

Elizabeth Warren's recent remarks about her race, are, at worst, not very politically calculated. But Scott Brown and conservative pundits, predictably, used them as a jumping off point to spout more of the same, tired lines about ending or curbing affirmative action. Amy Davidson gives us, with this article, a fair, balanced account of the scuffle.

 

Ebtihal Mubarak focuses on human rights.

Ezzedine Errousi, a Moroccan Prisoner of Conscience, Released: 134 Days on Hunger Strike.” Jadaliyya, May 2, 2012.

The Arab Spring is not over yet. It's long journey to achieve liberty and equality will most likely occupy the coming years. From the Bahrain, Saudi, Palestine to Morocco many activists, following the steps of Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr., are advocating for nonviolent struggle and defying dictatorships with hunger strikes, and they shall conquer.


Hannah Murphy focuses on sex and gender. 

Why Conservatives Believe in Anti-Gay Pseudo-Science,” by Chris Mooney. AlterNet, May 3, 2012.

Now in the wake of the passage of North Carolina's Amendment One, Chris Mooney addresses the common reasons that voters oppose gay marriage—debunking the folklore and pseudo-science that has long supported the anti-gay marriage vote.

 

James Murphy focuses on migration in the 21st century. 

What Football Teaches Us About Creating a Thriving Jobs Market,” by Boris Johnson. The Telegraph, May 7, 2012.

Boris Johnson, the recently reelected Mayor of London, is the Conservative Party's shining star, his popularity eclipsing that of party leader, Prime Minister David Cameron. The key to the tow-headed, nimble-tongued politician's success is his unique brand of Tory populism, illustrated perfectly in a recent Telegraph op-ed in which he uses the English football team to get to the heart of the subject of immigration.

 

Erin Schikowski focuses on the politics and business of healthcare.

Study: Many Clinical Trials Small, of Poor Quality,” by Alexander Gaffney. Regulatory Focus, May 2, 2012.

A study published last week in the Journal of the American Medical Association reveals that most clinical trials performed in the United States are small and of inconsistent, often poor quality. I was surprised that it did not receive more mainstream media attention because the number of registered clinical trials has increased sharply in recent years, from 28,900 between 2004 and 2007 to 41,000 between 2007 and 2010.

 

Elizabeth Whitman focuses on the Syrian uprising, its implications and the wildly varied domestic and international reactions.

Syria Uprising Creates Fear of Chemical Weapons Spread,” by Anthony Deutsch. Reuters, May 3, 2012.

Reporting on the issue of chemical weapons, of which Western countries believe Syria possesses an arsenal including mustard gas and VX nerve agent, has been surprisingly sparse since the beginning of this year. Even with coverage from Reuters, the Wall Street JournalWired, and antiwar.com on US concern about the possibility that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad would use these weapons against opponents of his regime as he grows more desperate or that the weapons could fall into the wrong hands, the issue does not figure prominently in international discussion about the Syrian crisis. Whether or not the administration is cultivating, through occasional public speculation about Syria's chemical weapons and even draft plans to seize them, the justification for intervention (multilateral or not) in Syria when the situation becomes more convenient is an interesting and disturbing question to consider, particularly when this article calls attention to the obvious: the similar concerns that led to the invasion of Iraq.

Students March for Labor Rights in New Haven

This article was originally published by the Yale Daily News, the oldest college daily in the United States.

More than a thousand students, labor union members and community activists flooded Yale’s campus and downtown New Haven in a call for the University and the city to provide more youth opportunities and union jobs.

The “Let’s Get to Work” march and rally was jointly organized by the undergraduate community advocacy group Students Unite Now, the Local 34 and Local 35 unions that represent University technical, clerical and dining hall employees, the Graduate Employees Student Organization (GESO) and the non-profit progressive advocacy group Connecticut Center for a New Economy. While the organizations leading the march identified different goals, leaders from each group said protesting together provides a “show of force” to Yale administrators and city officials that youth employment and union jobs are important issues for New Haven residents.

“I’m marching today because there is a movement building across the city for economic and social justice,” said Ward 1 Alderwoman Sarah Eidelson ’12 in a speech at the march. “We can only make the change if thousands of us take to the streets — it’s about all of us fighting for change.”

Organizers said yesterday’s march was designed to be this year’s equivalent of last March’s “We Are One” rally, in which students, labor unions, clergy and other activists marched on City Hall in protest of Mayor John DeStefano Jr.’s demands that city employees make significant concessions on their benefits to help balance the city budget. Local 34 and 35 members interviewed said this year’s protest comes at a key time, as the Yale unions are currently in negotiations with the University over the terms of future union contracts. Leaders of the unions could not be reached for comment.

Members of GESO, Local 34 and 35 as well as Students Unite Now gathered at separate locations at approximately 5 p.m. Undergraduates convened outside Dwight Hall, where members of Students Unite Now distributed signs and delivered speeches about the importance of Yalies’ advocating for city youth and employment issues to a crowd of around 120 students by 5:30 p.m.

Following the speeches, the Students Unite Now group marched down High Street and through Cross Campus before merging with GESO and Local 34 and 35 members at the United Methodist Church on the corner of College and Elm Streets. The group shouted chants including “Together we stand, divided we fall,” “We’re coming together to make it all better” and “Jobs for youth, jobs for all.”

Police blocked off part of the College and Elm Streets intersection to vehicle traffic as a crowd of more than one thousand chanted and band of drummers and trumpeters played “The Saints are Marching In.” The crowd then marched to the center of the New Haven Green and toward the march’s final destination — the Yale School of Medicine.

“I’m excited by the turnout and the energy,” said a Local 35 union member at the protest who works in one of Yale’s residential colleges. “This kind of unity shows Yale that we mean business and we’re willing to fight for good jobs.”

Seven Local 34 and Local 35 members interviewed said that in the current contract negotiation with the University, they hope to see the preservation of the Yale’s current retiree health care policy as well as strong wages and job security. With “nothing set in stone” yet, one Local 34 member who works within IT support at Yale said Wednesday’s protest helped ensure that workers’ concerns would not go unheard.

GESO marchers also stressed the protest’s significance in the group’s nearly 20-year struggle to win recognition from the University. The organization was formed in 1991 and since then has advocated for the collective bargaining rights of graduate teachers in the humanities and social sciences without success.

“The march is really a way to demonstrate the growing consensus among graduate students that they desire to organize,” said Kate Irving GRD ’15. “We came to Yale’s graduate school because we believe in the power of teaching and shaping the school and world around us — we want to have more of a say in the shape and planning of our program.”

While undergraduates are not members of the union groups present at Wednesday’s protest, members of Students Unite Now said all students have a stake in the city and thus have a moral responsibility to be involved in advocating for progressive change.

Tom Stanley-Becker ’13, a member of Students Unite Now, said the newly formed group came about as a result of last fall’s aldermanic campaigns, as students learned about the major issues affecting New Haven. In the past several months, he said, the group has been surveying  the student body to determine which city issues Yalies care about most. With New Haven’s unemployment at 11.7 percent, Stanley-Becker said advocating for greater job accesibility, particularly for the city’s youth, is a key issue for the group.

“If you look at the endowment figures and fundraising from the Yale Tomorrow capital campaign, the University isn’t hurting in terms of cash right now. I think Yale can be a progressive partner in getting more jobs in New Haven,” he said. “Yale could put money directly into places like Dixwell Avenue and create training programs for residents.”

Stanley-Becker added that Yale could also work to ensure the continuation of strong labor contracts and hire more local residents to work on some of the University’s large-scale construction projects, such as the two new residential colleges slated to be built on Prospect Street.

But not all Yalies agree with Students Unite Now’s vision for the University’s role in the city. Three students interviewed said they do not think Yale needs to devote more money to local causes.

The “We Are One” rally, one of a series of well-attended protests on the Green last year, took place March 30, 2011.

Syndicate content