Students assemble at the Morales/Shakur Center at CCNY. (Credit: PopularResistance.org)
1. At City College, a Surprise Shutdown Sparks an Uprising
On October 19, the City College of New York closed the Guillermo Morales/Assata Shakur Center, a community and social justice space, replacing it with a career center and setting off major protests across campus. During the raid, college officials arrested an alum who sat-in and called council members and students to notify them. Meanwhile, they shut down all buildings on campus, barring students from studying in the library—flying in the face of direct action for 24/7 library access during midterms and finals week. On October 21 and 24, hundreds of students rallied to demand the immediate return of the center. This week, there will be a protest in front of the school’s administration building as college president Lisa Staiano-Coico meets with the undergraduate student government. Students will continue to protest until the center is re-opened.
2. For Women and Queer People, the Shutdown Hits Home
The day before the Morales/Shakur Center was shut down, after months of organizing and lobbying by Students for Educational Rights, the City College of New York recognized the need for a gender identity protection in its anti-discrimination policy. The push started at the MSCC, where a range of groups focused on justice for women and queer people, including the Multicultural Gender Resource Center Campaign and 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence, held most of their programming. Due to the abrupt closure of the center, campaigns like these are threatened.
3. Upstate, Racist Scrawls Bring Old Truths to Light
On the night of October 18, someone wrote on a whiteboard in SUNY–New Paltz’s DuBois Hall, “Emmett Till Deserved to Die.” Later, once it was erased, someone came back and wrote, “Don’t Erase the Truth.” Since then, black student leaders and student government representatives have met to formulate initiatives to promote a safer campus for students of color. Our resolutions include a racial diversity task force, similar to New Paltz’s LGBTQ task force, to address racial injustice; prioritizing people of color for new faculty and administrative hires; and explicit conversations about racial equality during freshmen and transfer orientations. We feel like this campus does not value our presence here, nor does it appreciate the role of people of color in broader society.
4. The IX Coalition at UConn
UConn’s IX Coalition is a non-university-affiliated, student-led campaign working to change campus culture and policy. The group was created in response to the Title IX complaint filed on October 21 to show solidarity for the filers. Since then, we’ve been chalking frequented spaces on campus, including the Celeron path, which is widely referred to as the “rape trail,” with statistics, sentiments and resources on sexual violence. On October 30, we will be hosting a speakout at Husky Solidarity Day to address the culture of violence on campus, its history and its connection to discrimination. While the image of victim-survivors has centered on white women and their experiences with sexual violence, racism, homophobia and other forms of oppression are just as toxic to student life.
5. Fuck Rape Culture at Ohio
In September, students at Ohio University formed a grassroots organization, Fuck Rape Culture, to challenge the normalization of sexual violence on campus. FRC mobilizes students through rallies and marches to force attention and dialogue on issues of sexual assault, consent and bystander intervention. In October, FRC obtained amnesty for under-21 survivors of sexual assault whose cases involve alcohol. Now the group is educating and encouraging administrators to implement in-person, consent-based sexual education for incoming first-year students, as well as sexual harassment training for student workers.
6. Pissed Off Trans* People at Wesleyan
Pissed Off Trans* People and other sympathetic groups have been removing gendered bathroom signs at Wesleyan University and replacing them with all-gender signage and a statement on bathrooms, safety and transantagonism at Wesleyan. Members of our group have been physically threatened and verbally and sexually harassed because we use the “wrong” bathrooms, and the university’s administration has ignored it. We are responding to our day-to-day experiences as trans* and gender non-conforming people and changing these spaces in real time. We recognize gendered bathrooms as inherently violent forms of surveillance, targeting in particular poor, undocumented and of color transgender, gender non-conforming and intersex people. Through growing resistance, we aim to make the current bathroom gendering system at Wesleyan untenable.
—Pissed Off Trans* People
7. Edinboro Sits-In
On October 24, more than thirty Edinboro University students and faculty members staged a protest and sit-in outside the office of President Julie Wollman in opposition to dramatic program and faculty cuts. After rallying across campus for several hours, protesters entered Wollman’s office to deliver a 1,200-signature petition against her proposal to cut five university programs and about forty-two full-time faculty positions to make up for a $7.6 million budget deficit. Upon being informed that the president was unavailable, the protesters sat-in and spread the word on #eupcuts and #apscufsolidarity until she came out to speak with them. Wollman asserted that her administration is diligently working to save as many faculty positions as possible; students will continue taking direct action until retrenchment is dropped.
8. California Converges
On October 18 and 19, students from across California met at the City College of San Francisco for the Fall 2013 California Student Union Conference, where we discussed growing union chapters and supporting campus and system-wide struggles. With the Save CCSF coalition still fighting for the state to reverse sanctions placed on the City College of San Francisco by a commission pushing for closure of the school, UC students opposing the appointment of Janet Napolitano as UC president and increased fees of over 300 percent for winter and summer classes at six community colleges, the crises in California’s higher education system have fostered an increasingly united front.
9. Tennessee Takes Off
This November, college and high school students and community activists from across Tennessee will converge on Nashville for the first ever Tennessee Student Union Conference. A “meet-up of the movements” in Tennessee, inspired by the National Student Power Convergence, the conference hopes to galvanize a more cohesive youth and student identity across the state. The conference will be a weekend of organizing trainings, workshops and “next steps” general assemblies, and participants are expected from the DREAMer movement, cultural organizations and feminist, LGBTQ, student-labor solidarity and environmental student groups. Our guiding question is, how can higher education be a force for liberation? And then, how does access to education, particularly as it relates to race, class, gender, sexuality and immigration status, change the possibilities of liberation?
10. Where Is John Boehner?
Arizona is ground zero for immigrant justice: we see children afraid because a stop violation could lead to their parents’ deportation, and workers worried that ICE could raid their workplaces any day. On October 18, forty-four fathers, mothers, DREAMers, students and children started their journey from #AZ2DC. After a forty-hour bus ride, we finally arrived in DC, where we took shelter at a church. On October 22, we went to Speaker Boehner’s office and prayed. Though he refused to open his door, we shared our stories with more than eighty members of Congress. Afterward, we went to Ohio with the hope of seeing Boehner at his district office. We will continue to pray, organize and speak out for our families.