UCI Protest Today: coverage and demands


OC Register: UCI protesters block traffic after 15 arrested
2010-02-24 12:14:28

UCI police began arresting students and workers conducting a sit-in protest  inside the adminsitraion building at UCI. The protest is on behalf of 150 outsourced UCI workers.

12:30 p.m. update: The protest under way at UCI has moved from in front of the administration building to Pereira Drive. Protesters, numbering about 50 people, have tipped over two Dumpsters and are blocking oncoming traffic on Pereira. An apparent list of protester demands can be found at http://bit.ly/9Cw7Q0

IRVINE – About 15 students and workers were arrested after a sit-in protest held at UCI on behalf of 150 outsourced UCI workers.

UCI had been in negotiations with the workers for a company called ABM to be hired by the university directly, but talks fell apart late last year and early this year, according to university spokesperson Cathy Lawhon.

The protesters sat in on the fifth-floor hallway of the administration building in front of UCI Chancellor Michael Drake’s office. According to protesters, it was designed to get the attention of the chancellor, who was not in his office today.

11 students and four workers were arrested, by a reporter’s count.

_____________

Corrections need to be made to this article:

*17 students and workers were arrested

*The protest was not only on behalf of the outsourced workers, their demands are posted here:

We call for the democratic education intended in the founding of the UC system. This means an end to the racist, gendered, hetero-normative, and exploitative practices currently in place. To these ends, we have expropriated Aldrich Hall. As part of the University of California, this building belongs to the students and workers. This is not an occupation, nor is it unlawful assembly or trespassing. It is only the increasing privatization of our system that makes this action appear otherwise. This action is the result of frustration with conventional avenues of participation. The crisis is too extreme for gradualism and the ideals of public education are slipping away; direct confrontation is needed.

To UCI Admin:

1) We demand that administration implement a comprehensive financial aid system by fall 2010 that apportions grant aid (excluding loans from the equation) and on-campus housing based on family wealth rather than income. Financial aid must be designed to counteract the economic effects of structural and systemic racism in our society.

2) We demand the immediate direct hiring of all outsourced ABM workers and fair pay for all campus workers. Students and workers do not support discriminatory hiring practices that victimize immigrant, Latina/o working families.

3) We demand that Chancellor Drake publicly commit to seeking out private donations that will specifically fund financial aid to AB540 students or begin providing financial aid for AB540 students directly from his office’s discretionary funding. We want administration to publicly recognize that AB540 students do not share the same economic freedoms and securities as other populations.

4) We demand that UCI administration immediately disarm all police officers of Tasers. This action is supported by the December 2009 ruling of the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals. The Taser has replaced the lash of the whip as a device in the service of state sanctioned anti-blackness, evidenced so blatantly at UCLA this past November, and UCI’s administration should lead in the banning of this device.

5) We demand that UCI immediately equip the campus with gender neutral bathrooms. Students and workers who do not fit the illusion of gender normativity suffer routine violence and intimidation. UC should not privilege heteronormativity over the interests of its LGBT community.

6) We demand the recall of the three groundskeepers that were laid off in October 2009 and the end to the 5% time reduction of the entire campus of the AFSCME 3299 service unit.

7) We demand that no disciplinary action (academic or legal) be taken against the 11 students arrested at Ambassador Oren’s event. UCI and the surrounding community’s repeated attacks against, and hyper-surveillance of, Muslim and Arab students aids in branding legitimate political criticisms against the apartheid state of Israel as ‘uncivil’ and fosters a segregated cultural, social, and intellectual climate for the university. Deploying rhetoric that equates anti-Zionism with anti-Semitism serves to annihilate rather than engage in dialogue.

8.) We demand 100% funding from administration for a recruitment and retention center for underrepresented students. Recruiting and retaining students of color and low-income students should be a campus priority, but UCI has neglected to support these important efforts.

9) We demand that until state-funding has been restored to the UC system in full, that all budget cuts imposed in the fall be redistributed by imposing an equal percentage cut to each of UCI’s schools.

10) We demand that UCI administration immediately reinvest in the ethnic, queer, and women’s studies departments/programs. UCI should foster an environment that is supportive of students who are considered outside of the “mythical norms” of our society. As evidenced so blatantly at UCSD this past week, Black subjects are in an antagonistic position against the institution, this sentiment is reinforced by administration and creates a safe space for anti-blackness. UCI administration should lead in creating a campus that engages in academic, political, and social reeducation that challenges structural and individual racism, sexism, heterosexism, and homophobia.

11) We demand that Chancellor Drake publicly disclose all of UCI’s military and private security contracts. Furthermore, we demand that Chancellor Drake shut down the Center for Unconventional Security Affairs and discontinue all military and Homeland Security contracts that aid in both the mass murder of people around the world by U.S. imperialism (particularly in Afghanistan, Iraq, Gaza, and Pakistan) or the violent police repression of students and workers within the U.S. In solidarity with workers and students around the world, we demand an end to genocidal imperialist wars for profit and empire: U.S. imperialism out of Iraq and Afghanistan!

12) We demand that UCI not feed the prison-industrial complex. We demand that UCI end its contract with Motorola by fall 2010. Furthermore, we demand the removal of all Dell, IBM, and Texas Instrument products by fall 2010 as well.

www.democratizeeducation.wordpress.com
To the UC Regents:

1. We demand amnesty for all previous and current participants in protest on UC campuses. The Regents must restore all penalized students to good academic standing, recall all fired workers, and issue a public statement demanding that any and all criminal charges be dropped.

2. We demand the UC Regents and the Office of the President terminate ALL military and private security contracts currently in place at UC campuses and research facilities. In solidarity with workers and students around the world, we demand an end to genocidal imperialist wars for profit and empire: U.S. imperialism out of Iraq and Afghanistan!

3. We demand that the Regents revisit the November 2009 decision to increase student fees by 32% and address student and faculty objections to this decision.  We demand that this public discussion of the 32% fee increase include three agenda items

(a) A period for public comment;

(b) A vote, in full view of the public, reconsidering the 32% fee increase;

(c) A vote, in full view of the public, to ban all outsourcing of  workers.

www.democratizeeducation.wordpress.com
WHY WE DEMAND!

Short of a complete overthrow of the current system and complete empowerment of students and workers, we seek to speak to the particular conditions of the masses of students and workers. We submit these twelve demands to the UC Irvine administration and three demands to the UC Regents because we have legitimate grievances that need to be immediately addressed. Our effort is in the direction of building an equal system that benefits all.

1) We demand that administration implement a comprehensive financial aid system by fall 2010 that apportions grant aid (excluding loans from the equation) and on-campus housing based on family wealth rather than income. Financial aid must be designed to counteract the economic effects of structural and systemic racism in our society.

Put simply, the role of the financial aid system is to protect a student’s right to higher education. In the spirit of that right, and in the spirit of the California Master Plan for Higher Education, the cost for students to attend a UC must be negligible, that is, no student should be forced to incur any debt burden in order to attend, and no student should be priced out of college. Financial aid must ensure this outcome by providing comprehensive aid packages that cover all expenses not covered by scholarships and state and federal grants. Special attention must be paid to ensure that the right to attend is protected for students from historically oppressed groups and for students from poor families. This is all said understanding that financial aid is only one site within the university; all other academic and administrative divisions of the university must also work to protect the right of all students to higher education.

2) We demand the immediate direct hiring of all outsourced ABM workers and fair pay for all campus workers.  Students and workers do not support discriminatory hiring practices that victimize immigrant, Latina/o working families.

UCI spends millions every year to contract out it campus facilities custodial services to ABM Janitorial Services. This company employs approximately 155 workers that are all Latinas/os that earn wages and benefits far below those that work directly for UCI and are in worse working conditions. As a result, most workers have incomes that make them eligible for public benefits including public housing subsidies, Medi-cal, WIC supplemental foods, and reduced-price school meals. These conditions create higher costs for not only workers, but also for the very community UCI is meant to serve. UCI is the last UC campus to have such a large group of service workers contracted out. In Southern California, UCI is the only remaining UC campus to contract out its custodial services. The ABM workers are in charge of cleaning all the offices, classrooms, lecture halls, labs and restrooms on the campus and have done it with dedication and commitment for over 20 years. Until June 2009, ABM workers were earning $8.25/hour. As a result of community and workers’ support, UCI agreed to raise all of the ABM workers wages to $12.00/hour which is still below what direct UCI workers earn and far below a sustainable wage. According to a study in 2008, for two adults and two children to live in Orange County each adult needs to earn a living wage of $17.43/hr. ABM workers receive only two sick days per year after working for the company for at least one year, have no dental and vision insurance, and have fewer holidays compared to those of UCI workers. Additionally, workers have expressed that ABM management does not offer any adequate safety training, respect, and professionalism. We are demanding that all ABM workers be hired directly by UCI.

3) We demand that Chancellor Drake publicly commit to seeking out private donations that will specifically fund financial aid to AB540 students or begin funding financial aid for AB540 students directly from his office’s discretionary funds. We want administration to publicly recognize that AB540 students do not share the same economic freedoms and securities as other populations.

4) We demand that UCI administration immediately disarm all police officers of Tasers.  This action is supported by the December 2009 ruling of the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals. The Taser has replaced the lash of the whip as a device in the service of state sanctioned anti-blackness, evidenced so blatantly at UCLA this past November, and UCI’s administration should lead in the banning of this device.

Black existence in the Americas has been defined by a perpetual and gratuitous openness to violence. Antiblackness is the self-justifying performance of this violence–in the forms of policing, mass incarceration, impoverishment, denial of access to health and education, and derogatory cultural practices, among others–against the black body. That is, to be “black” is to be outside of the protections of civil society. Consequently, to be a police officer is to patrol the borders of civil society, to ensure the openness of the black body to state violence. This is to say that, rather than the police providing an important public service and occasionally violating the bodily integrity of black subjects, the police violate the bodily integrity of black subjects and occasionally provide a public service. In lieu of removing the police from our campus, the administration must work to remove the police’s means of violence against all oppressed members of our community.

5) We demand that UCI immediately equip the campus with gender neutral bathrooms. Students and workers who do not fit the illusion of gender normativity suffer routine violence and intimidation. UC should not privilege heteronormativity over the interests of its LGBT community.

A simple and inexpensive measure, the conversion of sex-segregated bathrooms to gender neutral bathrooms (in most cases as simple as the replacement of a sign on the door) can dramatically improve the living conditions of transgender, gender non-comforming, presumably LGBT, and disabled persons, along with the parents of small children. Rather than continue to leave these members of the university community open to assault, intimidation and police intervention, the administration must work to take the same measures as numerous other universities and places of business to equip our campus with gender neutral bathrooms.

6) We demand the recall of the three groundskeepers that were laid off in October 2009 and the end to the 5% time reduction of the entire campus of the AFSCME 3299 service unit.

UCI has laid off 3 groundskeepers from campus Facilities Management due to budgetary constraints since October 2009. As a method of trying to implement a form of a furlough, UCI has given all campus AFSCME 3299 service workers a 5% time reduction in the form of cutting their hours by 30 minutes every day. This affects over 400 service workers that are some of the lowest paid workers in the UC system. The San Jose Mercury Newspaper quoted UC as saying that furloughing workers earning $40,000 and under would save the UC system only $8 million. Instead, we propose that UC use the $800 million it has reserved for low-interest home loans to senior management and faculty to preserve core services (look at the AFSCME Local 3299 Budget Reduction Plan Realignment for more alternatives that AFSCME has offered to avoid layoffs and furloughs).

7) We demand that no disciplinary action (academic or legal) be taken against the 11 students arrested at Ambassador Oren’s event. UCI and the surrounding community’s repeated attacks against, and hyper-surveillance of, Muslim and Arab students aids in branding legitimate political criticisms against the apartheid state of Israel as ‘uncivil’ and fosters a segregated cultural, social, and intellectual climate for the university. Deploying rhetoric that equates anti-Zionism with anti-Semitism serves to annihilate rather than engage in dialogue.

Critiques of the racist and genocidal politics of Zionism (which have killed and displaced millions of Palestinians for the sake of building a Jewish homeland in what is today called Israel) cannot and should not ever be equated with anti-Semitism – the hatred of Jewish people. We oppose the racist assumptions of monolithic racial/ethnic thinking assumed in equating anti-Semitism with ant-Zionism; that all Jewish people are supporters of the Apartheid State of Israel and that all Jewish people believe in the right of Israel to exist when, in fact, neither is true.

8) We demand 100% funding from administration for a recruitment and retention center for underrepresented students. Recruiting and retaining students of color and low-income students should be a campus priority, but UCI has neglected to support these important efforts.

UC Irvine prides itself on the fact that it is the first UC campus with a Cross-Cultural Center but is one of only two UC campuses without a retention and recruitment center for the same students that the Cross-Cultural Center is designed to help. Instead, students volunteer their own time with continually limited funding from CFEP (Center for Educational Partnerships) to put together spectacular programs that should be put together by an administration that truly believes in diversity.

9) We demand that until state-funding has been restored to the UC system in full, that all budget cuts imposed in the fall be redistributed by imposing an equal percentage cut to each of UCI’s schools.

We understand the position administration is put in when the state chooses to divest away from the UC system. However, we charge UCI administration with mismanagement of the funds it does have at its disposal. Budget cuts should not be felt disproportionately depending on students major. It is only the states investment in war making and ‘easy profit’ industries that allows for the Humanities and Arts schools to suffer budget cuts more harshly than other schools. In order to value every student equally, we propose equal cuts across the board.

10) We demand that UCI administration immediately reinvest in the ethnic, queer, and women’s studies departments/programs. UCI should foster an environment that is supportive of students who are considered outside of the “mythical norms” of our society. As evidenced so blatantly at UCSD this past week, Black subjects are in an antagonistic position against the institution, this sentiment is reinforced by administration and creates a safe space for anti-blackness. UCI administration should lead in creating a campus that engages in academic, political, and social reeducation that challenges structural and individual racism, sexism, heterosexism, and homophobia.

To state more clearly, we are seeking financial investment in the above mentioned departments/ programs. To start, we would like the African-American studies program to be made into a full department. The need for this is exemplified in the recent article in the New University in which post racial ideals were used to equate victims of systemic racism as being reverse racist. To quote directly, “focusing on everyone’s ethnic background… in the form of clubs, organizations and holidays is racist because all it seeks to do is give preferential treatment to self-segregating groups whose main purpose is to cry eternal victimhood.” Since the university continues to promote a Eurocentric educational agenda that erases the narratives of people of color, women, and queers, it make sense that a student would believe that the Civil Rights Movement was end game in racial struggle and amend 300 years of chattel slavery. These departments and programs serve to reeducate the miseducated, ill informed, and ignorant of race, gender, and sexuality. They benefit the students that identify with the subject through self definition, but more importantly they benefit the campus at large in creating a climate that is intellectually diverse.

11) We demand that Chancellor Drake publicly disclose all of UCI’s military and private security contracts. Furthermore, we demand that Chancellor Drake shut down the Center for Unconventional Security Affairs and discontinue all military and Homeland Security contracts that aid in both the mass murder of people around the world by U.S. imperialism (particularly in Afghanistan, Iraq, Gaza, and Pakistan) or the violent police repression of students and workers within the U.S. In solidarity with workers and students around the world, we demand an end to genocidal imperialist wars for profit and empire: U.S. imperialism out of Iraq and Afghanistan!

12) We demand that UCI not feed the prison-industrial complex. We demand that UCI end its contract with Motorola by fall 2010. Furthermore, we demand the removal of all Dell, IBM, and Texas Instrument products by fall 2010 as well.

The prison-industrial complex is a vicious cycle wherein the profits of prison labor beget the mass imprisonment of black and brown peoples which in turn drives the profits of privately-run prisons and companies that utilize prison labor. Fueling the prison-industrial complex has created an America where nearly one-half of black men between the ages of 18 and 25 are in prison or on probation or parole. The prison is the only site in the modern United States where–in accordance with the Thirteenth Amendment–a person may be subjected to enslavement and involuntary servitude. In order to undo the damage done by profit-driven imprisonment, to resist the state-sanctioned enslavement and exploitation of black and brown peoples, and to stand for the rights of black and brown students to go to college rather than to prison, the administration must cut ties with companies utilizing prison labor.


www.democratizeeducation.wordpress.com

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