Writings of Campus Occupy and Anti-privatization Movements
Installment One: August, September, October 2011
One of a series of investigative posts on UC finance and governance that can be found at Williams’ blog, Good-in-theory. University privatization is revealed here as a process that tends to de-link the sphere of instruction from other spheres of the University: student fees are now being made to cover the costs of instruction, while other university income is being diverted to debt repayment. Countering the University’s claim that student fees aren’t being raised to offset construction costs or to reassure bond rating agencies, Williams offers a thorough defense of the 2009 slogan — “They pledged your tuition to finance construction” — while also detailing emergent logics of UC governance.
In the spring of 2011, a pro-democracy caucus successfully contested the leadership elections of UAW local 2865, the union representing UC academic workers. In the following months, newly-elected union activists began organizing for another round of anti-privatization protests. As part of their early efforts, they released this educational and agitational pamphlet, which makes the case that privatization is not simply an inevitable response to acute state defunding, but rather is a longstanding agenda embraced by key UC Regents and Administrators. The pamphlet also gives a brief history of recent anti-privatization protests, arguing that such protests were responsible for the partial and temporary refunding of the UCs, and for a number of other victories, including the maintenance of weekend library hours at UC Berkeley.
A collaboratively-written statement of aims by a cross-sectoral organizing body constituted this fall at UC Berkeley. Educational privatization and resegregation are presented here as aspects of a larger regime of austerity; the statement calls for a wave of collective protest to counter this regime.
In September, the UC Berkeley public education coalition organized a rally and march that led into an open occupation at Tolman Hall, a building from which most classes had been relocated, due to seismic concerns (even as campus workers were still required to work there). This collaboratively-written statement articulates a justification for building occupations, while also showing how symptoms of the regressive transformation of the university can be discerned on the surfaces of campus buildings.
On the limits of contemporary forms of class struggle — plaza occupations lined by riot police, on the one hand, and riots unable to sustain their negative energies, on the other. This pamphlet, published on the first day of Occupy Oakland, ends by gesturing toward a sequence of expropriations that could counter the generalized dispossession of the present and future, and could undo wage- and state-mediated forms of social life.