May 27, 2010
Solidarity letter for the striking students of Puerto Rico - One Struggle! One Fight! Education Is A Right!
We, the members of the Student Worker Action Team, the Academic Workers For A Democratic Union, the Third World Assembly, and the Graduate Student Organizing Committee at University of California, Berkeley, as well as the members of Student Unity Power and International Socialist Organization at Laney College and Stanford Labor Action Committee, Stanford Stands Up!, and MEChA de Stanford, send our fullest solidarity with the mobilized students of Puerto Rico, who are entering into their fifth week of continuous strike and paralyzation of their universities against the privatization of public education.
We resolutely condemn the use of repressive forces against the striking students and, especially, the denial of food and water to the protesters. This use of repression and intimidation against the mobilized students is completely unwarranted. Further, the refusal of the administration to negotiate with the students over their demands is exposing the university administration to the entire world as holding sole responsibility for the escalation of this situation. We call on the administration to immediately halt all use of repressive forces against the striking students and to negotiate with them over their demands.
The close to $100 million in cuts to education funding and the privatization of university services represent an open and aggressive attack on the public education system. This is only the most recent attack in a long term project of the ruling class to transform the function of public institutions into profit driven institutions, to crush the unions and the right to freedom of speech and dissent on the campuses, and to narrow access to public education to the most privileged sectors of the population.
Further, this comes as only one front of a much larger assault on the critical social services and programs that the working class has been able to win and hold onto over centuries of constant struggle. We recognize that the education sector has become a key battlefield in the fight to force the working class to shoulder the burden of the economic crisis. It is clear that our governments seek to use the imposition of austerity measures in the education sector to set an example by breaking one of the most dynamic, organized and militant centers of resistance.
It is clear that, when faced with an attack on public education of this magnitude, it is educators' and students' ability to engage in united and collective struggles and actions, including strikes, that will determine our ability to defend our rights. The fight for public education is all of our fight because these cuts represent an attack on the entire working class. For this reason, we cannot allow the ruling class to isolate, marginalize and crush our struggles. For this reason, the enormous solidarity being demonstrated by the professors and unions of Puerto Rico is an inspiring demonstration of unity in struggle. Further, we know that these attacks are being imposed on an international level and that the whole ruling class is watching the outcomes of our struggles to see how to impose similar measures across the globe.
We face similar cuts to education across the entire public education system in California. Faculty, lecturers, staff, and students are mobilizing to fight the massive reductions in funding for public education that not only threaten the quality of and access to affordable education, but also jeopardize workers' living and working conditions. We are building up democratic bases of mobilization, grounded in firm unity of students and workers across sectors, to push this struggle forward amidst enormous repression. The students of Puerto Rico today are an enormous source of inspiration for the public education movement in California.
In mutual inspiration,
Student Worker Action Team – UC Berkeley
Third World Assembly – UC Berkeley
Academic Workers For A Democratic Union – UC Berkeley
Graduate Student Organizing Committee – UC Berkeley
Student Unity Power – Laney College
Campus Radical Women – UC Berkeley
International Socialist Organization – Laney College
La Voz De Los Trabajadores
Stanford Labor Action Committee
Stanford Stands Up!
MEChA de Stanford