Last spring, The Nation launched its biweekly student movement dispatch. As part of the StudentNation blog, each dispatch hosts first-person updates on youth organizing—from established student unions, to emerging national networks, to ad hoc campaigns that don’t yet have a name. For recent dispatches, check out January 27, February 10, February 26, March 7 and March 21. For an archive of earlier editions, see the New Year’s dispatch.
1. As Grad Teachers Strike, UC Cracks Down, Thousands Mobilize
On April 2 and 3, UAW 2865, which represents teaching assistants at the University of California, went on strike to protest unfair labor practices. At Santa Cruz, these included intimidation of student workers and threats to withhold future employment for members’ participation in a legally sanctioned strike planned for March 2014. Protesters gathered early on April 2 and were confronted by riot police imported from UC Berkeley. When a union leader announced the picket would soon begin, he was promptly tackled and arrested. Nineteen other student workers were subsequently arrested. The ruthless tactics employed by Executive Vice Chancellor Alison Galloway in keeping one of two entrances open, against the possibility of complete campus shutdown, ignited further response from students, faculty and community members. By the second day of the strike, the protest quadrupled to almost 400—and police repression continued. Early April 3, after being pushed by an officer in the crosswalk, a student was arrested and charged with battery. Riot police interrupted picketing throughout the day, but the protest culminated with high spirits. Defense campaigns and contract negotiations are on the horizon.
—Erin Rose Ellison and Rachel Fabian
2. In the Face of “One Newark,” Seven Schools Walk Out
On Thursday, April 3, more than 1,000 Newark Public School students walked out of class to protest Superintendent Cami Anderson’s “One Newark” plan. The plan uses rhetoric about “excellence” and “equity” to confuse the public about the district’s deeper plans to close and destabilize public schools—while laying off 700 teachers this year and 1,100 teachers over the next three years. The NSU organized students from seven high schools across the state’s largest school district to walk out of class, into the streets and on to Newark City Hall. From there, we started a “Walk of Shame” where we visited corporations that profit off the privatization and destruction of Newark Public Schools, including Prudential Insurance, a contributor to the One Newark plan and TEAM Charter Schools, and the Foundation for Newark’s Future.