Sunday, September 13, 2009

In Solidarity: UC Grad Student Walkout

(Greg, a grad student in the UC system asked me to help spread the word).

As everyone knows, the UC system is in a lot of trouble. Less widely discussed is why and whose vision of higher education this crisis benefits. Perhaps even less mentioned is what can and is being done to avoid total capitulation by faculty and students to the Regents. Please read the letter below being circulated by UC grad students and visit the sites:

Faculty Walkout

Graduate Student Walkout

Dear Professor XXX,

I write to express my solidarity with the striking UPTE workers and UC Faculty pushing for a system-wide walkout on the first day of class on 9/24. In advance of this date, I want to let you know of my intention not to cross any picket line. The emergency powers recently seized by the University of California Office of the President—not to mention the Administration's heavy handed budget decisions made under cover of summer vacation and holiday weekends—are unacceptable from any perspective within the UC system. This new thrust of long-standing trends toward privatization makes a farce of the University's stated mission of providing an accessible and quality public education for the youth of California. As educators, students and workers, we all have a stake in fighting for this dream against the prevailing corporate cynicism of the Chancellors and Office of the President.

Along with my fellow graduate students I have witnessed steep cutbacks in TAships, departmental funding decreases, fee hikes and dwindling job prospects. These new cutbacks threaten graduate students, who already have staggeringly high levels of debt, with the prospect of real financial ruin along the path to completing their degree programs. Assisting our professors instruct undergraduates grows more difficult with each over-crowded classroom and every bloated discussion section that the administrators force upon us. We are asked to take the hit for the financial crisis while those charged with managing the budget reject significant cuts in their own large salaries and, remarkably, refuse public disclosure the budget itself. For these reasons and many more, I support the actions and demands of the UC Faculty Walkout which must ensure that the University of California will not be "business as usual" on 9/24. On behalf of a growing contingent of graduate students ( ), I strongly encourage you to make the decision to walk out and sign the open letter if you have not already done so. That open letter and signatory page is here:

I strongly believe that this faculty walkout represents an important exercise in pedagogy: disruption is an essential component of all critical thought and all advances in human knowledge. Towards this end, I welcome the opportunity to discuss ways of including our undergraduates in this day of action. It is of utmost importance that we don’t punish undergraduates who choose to walk out in support of faculty on the first day, so we may want to discuss postponing attendance, permission codes and enrollment until the next scheduled day of class. In the days to come, building solidarity and creatively collaborating on pedagogical resistance will be essential to defending—more than just our individual positions—the very principle of a free and public education against the vicious and failed ideologies of corporatization and privatization. I hope this letter is only the beginning of an ongoing dialogue between us about these issues.

In solidarity,


Feel free to re-post or publicize this effort any way possible.