Last month SOTA sent out a Q&A to the UCIRA list-serv about preparing for the school year and got back some great responses, posted here. After it was posted we got one more really insightful response from micha cárdenas at UC San Diego. If you would like to respond to this or other Q & As post a comment on this text or email email@example.com.
Q: Recently on Remaking the University blog Michael Meranze (UCLA) reflected on the summer and the upcoming school year: “This year crucial issues about the organization of University life and work, about the relationships between the campuses, the intersection between UC and the larger Higher Education system, about pensions, staff layoffs, and student fees are going to confront us all. This summer may have been quiet—but in all likelihood it is the calm before the storm.” SOTA wants to know what challenges do people need to be preparing for, thinking about as the school year begins? What is on your mind?
A: micha cárdenas (Lecturer, Visual Arts Department and Critical Gender Studies and Artist/Theorist, bang.lab; all at UCSD) – For me, what’s on my mind is the question “how far can I go?” As a lecturer, I’m very aware that I can lose my job for participating in indefinite strikes, blockades and occupations, but they are the only actions that I think are going to be effective at this point. We’re all coming back to a university reshaped by budget cuts, and we have to choose between acceptance and noncompliance. For myself, at UCSD, I was saddened last year to see so many large marches and single or few day strikes totally co-opted by [UC President] Yudof. Across the UC, huge marches happen, and Yudof puts out a press release the next day saying how proud he is of the democracy in action in our school system, when really there is none. Really, we come back to fewer jobs, friends laid off, fewer classes for students and more tuition. I applaud and support efforts Ken spoke of to coordinate a non-payment plan of the tuition increases. I feel myself, like the only thing on my mind is how to join and support efforts that are continuing to start blockades and occupations, because I think we’re long past any semblance of democracy or negotiation and are at the point where we have to either stop the machine of privatization or help it function. I was also saddened by what I saw happen at many UCSD rallies where a diversity of tactics was not respected. I saw march organizers, “protest police”, literally break up and stop multiple street blockades at UCSD last school year, and that can’t happen. Hopefully those of us willing to stop the working of the university in order to open a space to re-imagine and reclaim education can see now that the name “activist” or the “organizer” t-shirt is not enough to indicate an ally, and that we have to find solidarity and build it with those people we share an affinity and a passion with and act on that solidarity. I for one, am ready to put my body on the line and hope I can find some people who are willing to join me.