November 8th Walkout at UC Berkeley: Reject Austerity, Defend Public Education!
By Socialist Organizer
On Thursday November 8th, students will gather at noon on Sproul Plaza to mark the anniversary of Occupy Cal and the ongoing fight to defend Berkeley, the UC system, and the entire California public education system from ongoing defunding and privatization. While the Occupy movement appears to have faded, all the grievances that brought students and workers together in November of 2011 have persisted: sky-high tuition costs, with the constant looming threat of further increases, layoffs, furloughs, and denial of benefits for workers, and the ongoing takeover of the university by corporations and their profit-driven agenda. We see the effects of this rapid privatization all around us, in various forms: the past year, for example, has seen the opening of the half-billion dollar Helios building, a collaboration between the UC Berkeley and BP Energy, as well as the opening of Memorial Stadium, a project the Wall Street Journal reported to be the most expensive construction project in NCAA history.
Last fall, a proposed 81% fee hike for the UC system was abandoned as a direct result of mobilizations, most visibly the Occupy Cal and Occupy Davis demonstrations. This fall, tuition increases have been bound to the prospects of Proposition 30. If Prop 30 fails, we are told we will face a 20.3% fee increase immediately, yet even if it passes, the governor’s administration is not hiding the fact that this tuition increase will simply be delayed for a few months, not avoided altogether. This means that whatever happens on Election Day,the only way we can stop further tuition increases is through mass mobilization, just like last year! The UC Board of Regents has strategically timed their next meeting to try to avoid this. They will meet at UCSF Mission Bay campus from November 13-15, clearly timed so that, should Prop 30 fail, students will not have time to mobilize before a tuition hike is voted on.
We know that no matter what happens with Prop 30, we must mobilize to defend student, workers, and the public character of the university — we must walkout on the 8th and show our collective strength.