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Administration Strategies Against Student Activism and Organizing

Student organizers have a wealth of strategic analysis and history to pull from when we start any campaign. Everything from power mapping to the classic Tactic Star, I'm sure we've all been to our share of workshops to hone our activism. However, the point I want to make today is that college and university administrations across the country do the same thing. As Saul Alinsky wrote in Rules for Radicals:

Once a specific tactic is used, it ceases to be outside the experience of the enemy. Before long he devises countermeasures that void the previous effective tactic.

Since the explosion of innovative (and successful) student organizing and protest in the 1960s, administrators have sought to understand our tactics and strategy so as to work out the most effective ways to defuse our campaigns and actions.

Just as we have trainings and conferences, so do administrators: conferences with exciting names like the "Conference on Legal Issues in Higher Education", and "International Conference on Learning and Administration in Higher Education". There are also journals, magazines, and conference calls all devoted to the job of subjugating administering your campus.

LSE is Occupied! An Interview

2010 LSE Occupation

On December 2nd, students at the London School of Economics and Political Science occupied the Old Building on campus, demanding the Administration take a stand against the looming education cuts coming from Parliament. I chatted with occupying LSE students Isla Woodcock ('11), Emma Kelly ('12), and Alice Stott ('13).

FSP: So first off, what's the overall mood in the building right now? What are folks doing?

LSE: Very positive. The events team are drawing up a schedule for the week, others are drafting our statement.We're all ecstatic about getting official union backing this afternoon after a vote!

FSP: Yes, I read that! How much organizing for the occupation itself was done under the auspices of the student union? Or was it more of an independent grouping of student activists?

Support the Millbank Demonstrators - from the comfort of your own home!

The Telegraph is now asking for people to send in e-mails identifying student rioters at Millbank. The Social War Protetection Agency says 'hella fuck that'. We are asking anyone with free time to send an email, or ten emails, or hundreds of emails, or thousands of emails to studentriots@telegraph.co.uk with the name of your favorite imaginary persons. Keep homies out of jail. Jam! Jam! Jam!

I got this message forwarded to me via email. We all have at least one email account, and I'd wager most of us have quite a few! Now's the time to use them! A few tips:

March 4: Quick Update from Berkeley

5:20pm EST: I just got off the phone with a friend on the ground at a march at Berkeley; she's saying several thousand people are marching right now, down to Oakland. There have been lots of flying strikes - spontaneous mini-rallies in auditoriums, halls, and classrooms.

One of the best stories I've heard from the actions today happened during this march. As the students marched past a local middle school, at least a dozen kids ran out (some climbing over the fence) and joined the procession. They said that the protesters are "defending our future," and that risking a 3 day suspension was worth it, because if things keep up the way they are, they won't be able to afford college at all.

I'll post more as I learn more, particularly about the middle school students. I wish I could say I had the cojones to skip out of school and join a march when I was their age.

Photos from UMass Boston Rally & March

Dozens of students, faculty and allies held a rally and march today from Noon to 2:00 at UMass Boston. There was a brief session of speakers on the megaphone, a few rounds of circular picketing, and then the march began.

The chanting crowd snaked through several campus buildings, including the student center and two classroom buildings. While inside the classroom halls students chanted "out of the classrooms, into the halls!" and banged on classroom doors. At least a few students obliged and left their classes, joining the march.

A teach-in on the crisis is being held now, from 4:00 - 6:00.

Find out more about March 4 actions and events happening across the country here and here.

A few workers helped get the crowd energized:

Students protest at UMass Boston

Students protest at UMass Boston

Students protest at UMass Boston

Students protest at UMass Boston

UMass hearts California

Remembering '68: Students Re-enact Orangeburg Massacre

Orangeburg Massacre (February 1968) Re-enactment at South Carolina State University.Via the Times & Democrat:

The first live reenactment of the Orangeburg Massacre included a mix of humor, sorrow and passion, which students say helped tell the stories of three slain students whose one purpose was to promote justice and equality.

Produced by the Henderson-Davis Players, the original stage play “Taking a Stand” debuted Thursday night in the Martin Luther King Auditorium on the campus of South Carolina State University. Its purpose was to provide a reenactment of the events that led up to what has become known as the Orangeburg Massacre, which occurred on Feb. 8, 1968.

Two days earlier, several students were hospitalized during a protest rally against the segregated All Star Bowling Lanes - black students had tried to bowl there and were refused, then tensions rose and a fight broke out between the students and the city police. The agitation continued into the week. On the 8th, the students constructed a bonfire. When police and firemen were called to disperse the crowd and douse the fire, a police officer was hit by a piece of a banister as students retreated. Minutes later scores of cops lined up on the edge of campus, armed with pistols, rifles, and shotguns. Claiming later that they heard gunfire, police shot into the crowd, killing students Henry Smith, Samuel Hammond and Delano Middleton. The play's site tells us:

As students began returning to the front to watch their bonfire go out, a patrolman suddenly squeezed several rounds from his carbine into the air—apparently intended as warning shots. As other officers began firing, students fled in panic or dived for cover, many getting shot in their backs and sides and even the soles of their feet.

The next day, the Governor blamed outside "Black Power agitators." To add insult to injury, the nine police officers who shot into the crowd were cleared of all charges - the only person to serve jailtime was SNCC activist Cleveland Sellers, who was convicted for inciting the riot itself. (Sellers was pardoned 25 years later; in 2008 he was tapped to be President of Voorhees College, an HBC.)

Just about every institution of higher ed in this country has a history of resistance. It's often not as graphic as the iconic '60s campus actions we think of (and it's often meticulously hidden by administrators) but I'd argue it's just as important for those organizing on the ground here and now. Keeping in touch with your own school's history can help to inspire and motivate students. Students at SCSU are using dramatic re-enactments to bring the conflicts of the '60s back to life for a new generation:

Timothy Hughes, a 20-year-old junior elementary education major at S.C. State, said the play’s producers and actors did a “great job” of getting students to understand what the Orangeburg Massacre was about as well as its importance and the seriousness of the event.

“As far as civil rights, I think it was really a great opportunity to expose a lot of young minds to it. They probably don’t realize how important it is and what the people in the play fought for. But coming after them, I really am proud and respect the fact that Middleton, Hammond and Smith fought for a great cause. And I’m so proud of my peers and other students in the play. They did an excellent job,” Hughes said. “I’m real proud.”

Nicholas Darien, a 20-year-old junior business management major at the university, said the play drew heavily on his emotions and did a good job informing the public about what happened during the Orangeburg Massacre.

“A lot of people still don’t know what happened. The play was very emotional. I really felt the play. It was really exciting for me, and it was a great experience for me to come and see it. As the title says, take a stand and be a believer. Just stand strong and you’ll overcome.”

So ask your professors. Dig up old student newspapers and yearbooks. Especially in the wake of the passing of radical historian Howard Zinn, let's take the time to find the voices of resistance and hope who spoke before us - and listen to what they say.

35 More Students Join NYU Occupation Despite Police Violence - Midnight RALLY planned!

The Occupation of NYU for a more affordable, democratic, and socially responsible university has been going on for nearly 24 hours.

The administration of NYU still refuses to negotiate with the students of Take Back NYU! and has made multiple threats to students, including calling parents to threaten expulsion and promising arrests at 1 am in the morning.

I just got word from Drew SDSer Christa H. that about 35 students just rushed inside to join the Occupation. According to Christa, the police assaulted students Occupying the Kimmel Center and those making their way inside. She said that they hit many students and ripped shirts off of others. She ended the conversation by saying she had to go help others block the doors. According to Alex Lotorto, a member of Muhlenberg SDS, there are nearly 75 students inside the occupation at the moment!

Students have been making their way to NYU from across the city and from as far away as DC to support the amazing work that Take Back NYU! has done in the two years of their campaign leading up to this occupation. Support is still needed, anyone who can make it to NYU should head their immediately as support from the street is greatly needed.

Take Back NYU! is planning to hold a midnight Rally, which will take place right before the administration promised to give the order to arrest.

If you’re not close enough to travel you can still support the cause by letting everyone know about this bold action that NYU students are taking and by calling the NYU administration to demand that they NEGOTIATE with students rather than THREATEN AND BEAT them.

Support Take Back NYU!

Sign the Petition

cross-posted at Building Our Power

Mexico City, 1968: One more piece of the puzzle

NPR recently aired a program on All Things Considered that looked back, 40 years later, at the massacre of countless students in Mexico City:

Greek youth and students march against police brutality

Greek youth and students, already facing budget cuts for youth programs, a repressive conservative government pushing the privatization of the university system, and a slowing economy where their degrees mean less and less, are now apparently fed up. The spark? The police killing of a 15-year-old boy. Reuters:

Students Help Topple a Dictatorship: Remembering the Athens Polytechnic Uprising

Athens Polytechnic Uprising, November 14-17, 1973It had all the trappings of a revolutionary moment: a brutal regime, agitated students and workers, tanks, seized radio stations...

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