Newark students walk out on November 4. (Credit: Stephanie Rivera)
1. As Eight Remain in Detention, Dream 30 Get Arrested on Capitol Hill
On September 30, a group of DREAMers and their parents who had lived in the US but were deported or self-deported decided to try to come back home to the US. We presented ourselves at the point of entry in Laredo, Texas, where we asked for humanitarian parole and filed asylum paperwork. After close to a month, sixteen of us were released. With a sense of frustration and pain, all sixteen of us drove to DC to ask our elected officials to intercede for our eight brothers and sisters who were still detained and risking deportation. Unfortunately, we were received with closed doors. Representative Gutierrez decided to withdraw support publicly, and many of us were arrested after going to different Congressional Hispanic Caucus members, all of whom are Latino Democrats, asking for help. We will keep fighting to bring our friends home.
—The DREAM 30
2. After Pub Beating, Binghamton Masses Against Racial Violence
Sparked by the August beating and assault of a black male named Kyle Lovett-Pitts at a local pub, Dillinger's, on November 1 150 Binghamton students came together for a Confronting Racism rally focused on racism, covert and overt, in downtown businesses. More than ten downtown businesses signed a Confronting Racism pledge written by community and student activists, and political figures like the Mayor of Binghamton came out to sign it. The crowd also demanded the owner of Dillinger's do the same, but was met with silence.
3. What’s Next at Brown?
The October 29 disruption of Ray Kelly's lecture at Brown University has generated national debate around power, privilege and free speech. Forming a picket-line outside the school's List Art building and flooding the auditorium, protesters raucously interrupted Kelly's lecture on "Progressive Policing in America's Biggest City" before he was able to utter a word. After thirty minutes of continuous disruption from the crowd and pleas of civility from the moderator, university administration was forced to cancel the event. Students had distributed a petition in the days leading up to the action condemning the school's Taubman Center for Public Policy and American Institutions for sponsoring a talk by the architect of NYPD’s stop-and-frisk policy and Muslim surveillance tactics. Students also demanded the revocation of Kelly's honorarium and its redirection to community groups fighting local anti-police violence struggles in Rhode Island, such as PrYSM. Now, the university’s disciplinary response is grounds for further struggle.
4. In Newark, Students Walk Out on Christie
On November 4, the Newark Student Union organized a boycott of school to protest the lack of funding and respect given to students by Chris Christie and state-appointed superintendent Cami Anderson. Students from across the district converged at two locations, Christie’s office downtown and Anderson’s home. We attempted to deliver three packages: for Christie, a petition and letter demanding proper funding; for education commissioner Chris Cerf, a sock puppet and letter explaining that we disapprove of his role as a puppet in Christie’s administration; and, for Anderson, a sock puppet and petition demanding that she donate her recent $50,000 bonus to the Newark Public School District. Although the process was peaceful, each delivery attempt was thwarted by police or security. Still, we showed that we are not just a throwaway district or a bunch of statistics. We have voices, and we will use them.
5. In New York, Students Boycott the Latest Tests
In late October, a new English assessment test for teacher evaluation purposes sparked a sudden uprising at Stuyvesant High School. Students pledged to abstain from the test, which we saw as a waste of time and of no help to our teachers. The Department of Education revealed that we won't receive our scores, and teachers suggested to us a few days beforehand that the test didn’t “really matter.” Some students wrote angry letters to the DOE instead of completing the essay assignment. Others, including myself, completely abstained.
6. In North Carolina, Students Walk In for Teachers
On Monday, November 4, teachers across North Carolina led "walk-ins" to protest the General Assembly's savage cuts to education this past legislative session, opting to show up for their students—wearing red for public education, greeting them as they entered school buildings and holding rallies and speak-outs against the cuts—rather than walking out. NC HEAT, or Heroes Emerging Amongst Teens, encouraged students to show support for their teachers by attending walk-in rallies and giving their teachers apples as statements of solidarity. Students also showed up early to distribute literature about the plight of public education at three high schools where teacher actions had been squashed by administrative actions.
7. SUNY Grads Grade In
On October 31, the Graduate Student Employees Union and Contingent Concerns Committee of United University Professions at SUNY Albany held a grade-in protest in an effort to make their labor visible to campus administration. Neither graduate and teaching assistants nor adjuncts receive compensation close to a living wage, with average salaries of $13,000 per year and $3,700 per course, respectively. As part of Campus Equity Week, they joined forces to challenge the university's dependence on cheap academic labor through direct actions like the grade-in where dozens of GAs, TAs and adjuncts entered the administration building and set up shop to grade papers and do research. President Jones has expressed interest in providing "incremental support increases over time," but contingent labor at SUNY Albany isn't accepting vague promises and will continue to pressure campus administration to offer living wages and adequate support to all staff.
8. UC Workers Vote to Strike
On November 1, 20,000 workers in the University of California system voted to go on strike, and students pledged to stand with them. This year, the UC implemented drastic cuts to its lowest paid service and patient care workers, which amount to a 1.5 percent pay cut for workers making an average of $35,000 per year, and up to $124,000 in higher health costs for each worker in their lifetime. While 700 UC employees receive larger salaries than the President the United States, 99 percent of service workers qualify for public assistance. At UC Irvine, we are part of a national movement of students in United Students Against Sweatshops standing with campus workers to fight the corporatization of higher education. Last week, students across the UC held zombie themed flash mobs and funerals for workers rights as part of the nationwide “Hallo-Week of Action” for Campus Worker Justice. When campus workers go on strike, we’ll be mobilizing students to stand with them on the picket line.
9. LA’s Police Problem
On October 30, students, community members, and teachers gathered to release a report, Black, Brown and Over Policed in LA Schools, revealing the troubling realities of the Los Angeles Unified School District and Police Department's ticketing and arrest patterns. Through chanting, music and theater, youth brought their everyday experiences with police to the entire community. In 2011-2013, LAUSD had the highest rate of criminalization in the country. Last year, with the amendment of daytime curfew enforcement, youth and community organizers won a 90 percent reduction in truancy tickets and an overall 50 percent decrease in citations. Still, black students are six times more likely to be ticketed than white students, and nearly half of citations were given to students 14-and-under. These are the conditions that I see in my school in South LA, where the criminalization of black males is an everyday reality. Youth with the Community Rights Campaign are continuing the fight against school push-out by demanding LAUSD to implement the Equal Protection Plan, a set of policies cracking down on punitive discipline.
10. Another Trayvon
—Justice for Renisha McBride