> >
> > What: Statewide Student Union movement-building conference
> > When: Saturday, October 20, 2012
> > Where: UC Berkeley, 145 Dwinelle (room number and building on campus)
> > Who: Anyone who cares about public education!
> > Contact us at: (students4ademocraticuniversity@gmail.com) if you have any
> > questions, suggestions, or need housing
> >
> > Occupy Education is hosting a statewide conference on Saturday, October 20,
> > 2012 to lay the groundwork for a statewide student union to fight for public
> > education at all levels, PreK-PhD. We will also consider immediate
> > strategies and actions to stem the barrage of cuts and longer-term
> > strategies to restore funding for education. We have been gathering to
> > strategize our defense of public education for the last three years, and
> > were further inspired by the successes of student movements in Chile,
> > Quebec, Mexico and Puerto Rico.
> > Our most recent conference, held at Santa Monica College this past spring,
> > we agreed on general guiding principles that you will find below. During
> > this next conference, we hope to lay the groundwork to build a base of
> > activists and defenders of public education across all levels of public
> > education and all regions of California. We invite students, teachers,
> > workers and parents from all levels of education, along with anyone else who
> > wants to work toward the education system California deserves, to join us on
> > October 20 and help us build the coalition that will take us there. Please
> > bring whatever proposals you would like to see in regards to some general
> > structure and/or an action proposal. Proposals can be emailed ahead of time
> > to students4ademocraticuniversity@gmail.com and we will try to update the
> > various websites (calsdu.com, occupyeducationca.org,
> > http://castudentunion.wordpress.com/) with the proposals so people can see
> > them ahead of time. Moreover, additions, revisions, or edits to the agenda
> > can also be sent to the listed e-mail and will be further updated via the
> > websites.
> >
> > Why work together?
> > Today we live in a national climate of austerity. The survival of public
> > education, the institution we count on to prepare us and our children for a
> > productive adult life, is now seriously in question. We have seen painful
> > cuts and fee increases at all levels of education. Yearly tuition at both UC
> > and CSU have TRIPLED since 2003, pricing countless promising young people
> > out of a quality education, or forcing them deep into debt, . Per pupil
> > spending at California K-12 schools has fallen from 23rd in the nation
> > before the recession to 35th, at time when education budgets were being
> > slashed across the country, with some 300,000 teachers laid off nationwide,
> > . It is up to us, students, workers, teachers, and parents to defend and
> > restore our once unparalleled public education system and ensure that all
> > Californians get the education they deserve.
> >
> > We can’t all do this alone! There is resistance to these attacks from all
> > corners and all levels of education, but we can’t just work in isolation. If
> > we each restrict our efforts to an individual school or school system, we
> > might be able to cope better with the cuts we receive, but we the cuts will
> > continue to be passed down from the Sacramento and Washington D.C.
> > nonetheless. California is a wealthy state, but it is up to each of us to
> > make sure that a sane fraction of our resources ends up the classroom.
> >
> > The goals of this conference
> >
> > We invite you to attend our upcoming conference. We expect to have inclusive
> > discussions, with students and groups coming from different colleges and
> > different levels of organizing, to achieve the following three goals:
> > - discuss and vote on our draft of principles and goals,
> > - decide on our concrete next steps to form a student union and also
> > - to concretize the actions we will take this Fall against the new cuts,
> > fee hikes and school closures that have been announced.
> >
> > We invite all students and student groups from all campuses to come and to
> > bring proposals 1) for actions this Fall and 2) for next concrete steps we
> > need to build our student union (structure, education, logistics).”
> >
> > Even though this is a student conference, teachers, parents and workers from
> > all levels of education across California, anyone else who wants to fight
> > for public education are welcome to join us on October 20 and contribute to
> > our discussion so we can chart a course for the education system we and our
> > children deserve!
> >
> > Preliminary Agenda (open to revisions, edits, additions, etc.)
> >
> > 9:00-10:00 Light breakfast, such as bagels, coffee, and juice (we note the
> > current room(s) is reserved starting at noon - this is addressed later below
> > - we agreed the conference needs to be all-day)
> >
> > 10:00-10:10 Introductory speech going over the results of the previous SoCal
> > conference. This is to frame the discussion as a follow-up building on what
> > was agreed earlier in the year.
> >
> > 10:10-10:30 Introductions - go around the room and each person state just
> > their name and school.
> >
> > 10:30-11:00 Short break-out meetings for people to tell each other what is
> > going on at their schools and to share any action ideas they may have.
> >
> > 11:00-12:30 Plenary to raise, discuss, and vote on action proposals we can
> > encourage all to participate in.
> >
> > 12:30- 1:30 On-site lunch
> >
> > 1:30- 2:00 Video or Skype with Quebec student (maybe the one we had at the
> > forum yesterday?), followed by brief Q/A
> >
> > 2:00- 4:00 Student union discussion: raising, discussing, and voting on
> > proposals for networking, state-wide structure, etc.
> >
> > 4:00- 5:00 Break out meetings for working groups such as outreach and media
> >
> >
> > The Principles Agreed (in spirit) at the Last Conference
> > Why We Need a Student Union and What Kind of Student Union?
> >
> > Why do we need a student union?
> >
> > To Fight for the Right of All Students to a Free Quality Public Education
> > To Fight for Democratic Governance of the Schools by Students, Staff and
> > Faculty
> > To Unite and Fight for All Sectors of Public Education across California
> > To Fight Against Oppression in the Movement, in Society and Everywhere
> > What are our organizing principles?
> >
> > Participatory Democracy
> > Orientation towards Mobilization and Mass Direct Action
> > Political Independence
> > Student and Worker Solidarity and Unity in Struggle
> > Against Repression: in Defense of Free Speech, Academic Freedom, and the
> > Right to Protest
> > National and International Solidarity
> > Why do we need a student union?
> >
> > To Fight for the Right of All Students to a Free Quality Public Education
> >
> > The basic mandate of our student union should be to defend the right of all
> > students to an affordable, accessible, fully funded education that is both
> > public and high quality.
> >
> > Today, we are facing unprecedented attacks on the structure of public
> > education in this country. Our schools are being privatized and
> > resegregated. Every facet of our academic experience is under attack: from
> > rising costs and skyrocketing student debt to restructuring of the school
> > functions with the elimination of critical student services and programs and
> > the imposition of two-tier educational structures, from decreasing access
> > for academically under-represented communities and the undocumented to
> > targeting Ethnic Studies and Gender and Womens’ Studies Depts for harsh
> > cuts.
> >
> > While neo-liberalism is pushing its privatization plans for public
> > university systems all over the world, in other countries students are
> > mobilizing through their student unions to defend their rights and are
> > managing to hold off attacks.
> >
> > Here in California, we see urgently the need to build a broad and united
> > organizational structure that corresponds to the gravity of the attacks we
> > are facing. We see clearly that we cannot defeat these cuts without the
> > organized strength of the entire education sector, especially its student
> > component. We need a student union to coordinate and develop the student
> > movement on a statewide scale. We have “student governments” and
> > “associations” that govern us, the students, but we do not need a
> > “government” to keep us quiet and in line; we want a powerful and democratic
> > union that fights for our present education and our future, and that is
> > independent of all governments!
> >
> > Even though our first goal is to stop the fee hikes, cuts to classes,
> > layoffs, lack of access for undocumented students and increase the public
> > funding for education, in the long run, we should be fighting for an
> > education system that is free and open to all. This is the only way to honor
> > the human right to education!
> >
> > At the same time, we are fighting to ensure that our education system is
> > democratic and just in its governance structure, social role, and academic
> > content. This means our student union should put forward a transformative
> > vision for education that is directly linked to the needs of the community,
> > especially the working class, and not corporations, US imperialist
> > interests, or the military. It should fight to open up access to the schools
> > and universities in a broader sense, bringing the cultural and intellectual
> > life of the education system into the community. And it should fight to
> > change the relationship of our schools and universities to the communities
> > they exist in.
> >
> > Beyond this, the student union should investigate and mobilize around
> > student problems in a broader sense – including housing and tenants rights,
> > the need for affordable, guaranteed childcare, the position of youth in the
> > workforce and unemployment, the inadequate access to health care and
> > psychological support, the lack of collective access to culture and the
> > consequences of its privatization for society, the high costs of public
> > transportation and food, attacks on our future working conditions,
> > criminalization and imprisonment, and student debt.
> >
> > To Fight for Democratic Governance of the Schools by Students, Staff and
> > Faculty
> >
> > Our project for the Student Union should not be to build another
> > organization to govern students in the way that our current student
> > government does. Rather, we should strive to build a democratic organization
> > through which students can make decisions about the future of our schools
> > and universities and about our own education at every level – from the
> > departments and dorms to the governing bodies of the entire education
> > system.
> >
> > We should fight to replace the Regents, Boards of Trustees, and Boards of
> > Education with a real system of Shared Governance in which those who use and
> > run the universities and schools – students, staff, and faculty – are the
> > ones who govern.
> >
> > We should build democratic bodies for decision-making like General
> > Assemblies where students can develop their self-organization and capacity
> > to run the education systems and society. We should support processes of
> > self-organization of other sectors of the campus community, including
> > faculty and staff, and seek constantly to build common spaces where we unite
> > all campus sectors to develop self-governance together.
> >
> > To Unite and Fight for All Sectors of Public Education across California
> >
> > In order to effectively resist the attacks on public education in
> > California, we need to build an organization uniting us across different
> > educational sectors and geographic regions to fight for our public education
> > system as a whole. We must reject all efforts to divide us and pit us
> > against each other.
> >
> > This means uniting around demands that encompass the problems every sector
> > is facing on a statewide level and fighting back together. We should choose
> > collective campaigns, struggles, and proposals for education at our
> > statewide and regional Congresses that orient and give life to this
> > cross-sector unity.
> >
> > Our unity must also extend to all sectors of the campus community – so staff
> > and faculty as well – because it is our collective labor that makes the
> > campus function. As a student union, we should try to build meaningful
> > solidarity with other sectors.
> >
> > To Fight Against Oppression in The Movement, in Society, and Everywhere
> >
> > Our Student Union should be a force to unite all students in defense of the
> > interests and demands of the most oppressed sectors of the student body,
> > including students of color, student parents, veterans, undocumented
> > students, students with disabilities and the LGBTQIA community. This means
> > fighting for full access to education for all students regardless of
> > citizenship status, race, or sexual or gender identity.
> >
> > It also means fighting against all manifestations of sexism, racism,
> > xenophobia, homo- or trans-phobia within our classrooms, schools, bodies of
> > struggle, and movement to create spaces that are safe, affirming and
> > welcoming for all students. We should recognize that this will not be an
> > easy fight and prepare to take it up in a serious and constant way, with a
> > policy of zero tolerance for oppressive behaviors within the movement.
> >
> > Beyond this, it means that our Student Union must develop a conscious plan
> > to ensure the participation and leadership of oppressed communities and to
> > educate and politicize the rest of the student body about the fight against
> > oppression through committees, campaigns, literature, working groups, etc.
> > devoted to this work.
> >
> > What are our organizing principles?
> >
> > Participatory Democracy
> >
> > Our Student Union should be organized on the basis of the broadest possible
> > participation of students. Its structure should be open, democratic,
> > member-run, transparent, and participatory. It should represent the
> > interests of and fight to involve all students, not just the most active
> > ones.
> >
> > It should be organized from the bottom up, with base bodies in the
> > departments, colleges, and dorms. The highest decision-making bodies should
> > be the student General Assemblies and the Regional and Statewide Congresses.
> > Our organization will require statewide coordinating bodies beyond the
> > Statewide Congresses, but should reject the hierarchical structure of
> > Presidents, Vice Presidents, etc. and should have frequent rotation of
> > positions to prevent bureaucratization. In addition, all positions and
> > chosen representatives should be revocable at any time.
> >
> > All students, from all political tendencies, should have the right to
> > participate, form caucuses to fight for their views, present proposals and
> > run in elections within the student union. However, the student union should
> > remain organizationally and functionally independent of any party or
> > organization.
> >
> > An active and constant fight against all forms of oppression must be central
> > to the work of creating this participatory democracy. We need to seriously
> > assess the deep roots of oppressive behaviors and attitudes within the
> > student body and lead a fight within the union to challenge students
> > consciousness about oppression and win them to be fighters against
> > oppression both within the movement and within society. The union should
> > also have conscious policies to develop the participation and voice of
> > oppressed communities within the movement and the union.
> >
> > Orientation Towards Mobilization and Mass Direct Action
> >
> > Our Student Union should be explicitly political and oriented towards
> > struggle. It should strive to educate, organize, empower, and mobilize all
> > students in order to mount an effective fight-back. In defending our
> > interests, our union should rely primarily on our own power as students – a
> > power we express through our own democratic self-organization, mobilization,
> > and mass, militant direct action, as the recent mobilizations of the student
> > unions in Puerto Rico, Chile or Quebec have shown us in the past two years.
> > It should use a diversity of tactics but orient towards mass, militant
> > struggle over institutional or legalistic approaches like the courts or the
> > bourgeois elections.
> >
> > Political Independence
> >
> > We must protect and maintain the political independence of our student union
> > from campus administrations and the State. This means not only total
> > independence at the level of our program and action but also in our
> > finances. The student movement must rely financially on the students
> > themselves, and not on the ones we are fighting against.
> >
> > The student union must actively create this political independence through
> > producing its own media, culture, reviews publicizing our struggles, etc. to
> > develop this independence among the entire student body and society. It
> > should take public positions on all political questions affecting us today
> > as students and in the future as members of society more broadly.
> >
> > Student and Worker Solidarity and Unity in Struggle
> >
> > As a Student Union, we should build real solidarity with campus workers and
> > unions against our common enemies and support efforts of these sectors to
> > self-organize and fight back. Faculty and staff working conditions are our
> > learning conditions. We must defend campus workers by winning over students
> > to support and fight for their demands and mobilize students against attacks
> > on workers anywhere. As an organization, we should give our full support to
> > all struggles of campus workers in order to assure that they win.
> >
> > We should also call on education workers and labor unions to recognize our
> > student union, support student demands, and actively mobilize in our
> > defense. We need to start building the structures for a faculty, staff and
> > student run school system today.
> >
> > In addition, our student union should build a student movement that defends
> > the interests of the working class in society more broadly. The attacks we
> > are facing as students are part of a larger project of attacks on the
> > working class as a whole. We should stand with the entire working class in
> > saying: “We, students and workers, will not pay the price for the economic
> > crisis! Make the bosses pay!”
> >
> > Against Repression: In Defense of Free Speech, Academic Freedom, and the
> > Right to Protest
> >
> > The Student Union should take a stand against all forms of repression from
> > the administration, government or police. It should organize and fund legal
> > support for students and mobilize broad campaigns in their defense, as well
> > as keep all students informed of and mobilize resistance to new repressive
> > measures or ongoing cases. We want to build a campus environment and a
> > society where there is a real right of free speech and of free assembly to
> > discuss and organize around the issues that affect us.
> >
> > This is why we should take up seriously the fight to get cops, immigration
> > officers, ROTC and military recruiters off campuses, to deal with
> > repression and to lead campaigns for broader freedoms of speech and protest
> > in our society. This fight must foremost be one of education of the students
> > and the campus community and of mass action to defeat the police and
> > militarist projects being pushed on our school campuses.
> >
> > National and International Solidarity
> >
> > The plans of privatization, austerity measures, resegregation, and
> > dismantling of public education we are combating are not just being carried
> > out at the statewide level. Across the country, education is under attack.
> > These attacks are being enacted by the Obama administration at a national
> > level through the gutting of state budgets for education and social services
> > in order to fund the bail-outs and wars and through Federal policies of
> > privatization and charter schools, high stakes testing and union-busting
> > like Race To The Top and No Child Left Behind. For this reason, we should
> > try to build connections with students across the country by supporting
> > their demands and calling for united actions. Further, we should seek to
> > expand our student union beyond California.
> >
> > On an international scale, the neo-liberal model of education that exists in
> > the United States, Chile, and Japan and which we are fighting against is at
> > the same time being pushed across the world. In the European Union, this
> > project is embodied in Plan Bologna. In the Global South, it is being pushed
> > through institutions of US imperialism like the World Bank and IMF. But
> > everywhere it is facing resistance. And everywhere that there is resistance,
> > we have allies in struggle. Our Student Union should have a plan to build
> > connections with student unions across the world to share our experiences
> > and unite our fights.