Today the Orange County DA’s office issued notices to the students involved in the occupation of Cal State Fullerton’s Humanities building on March 3rd, 2010 that read in part:
A complaint was filed in the North Justice Center charging that on or about 03-03-2010 you committed a violation of section(s)
602(m) PC TRESPASS – OCCUPATION BY SQUATTER
It appears as though all of those charged have received the same court date, May 6th at 8:30AM at the North Justice Center in Fullerton.
These notices appeared after the detained students were told matter-of-factly by the police present that they would not be cited or charged, only banned from campus for 7 days, and that the only further consequences, should there be any, would come down from the university’s own student conduct hearings.
Adu-Brempong is an international graduate student from Ghana who was shot in the face by a University of Florida policeman. After receiving a call from a neighbor concerned that Adu-Brempong was screaming, due to stress over his studies and his immigration status, campus police stormed his apartment, tased him three times and then shot him in the face with an assault rifle.
As of 3AM, CSU Fullerton’s 8-story Humanities building has been barricaded from the inside by some fairly heavy materials.
Why Occupy? And Why the Humanities Building?
First and foremost, it is important for us to express our unease with the term “occupation.” The term’s historical indebtedness to militarization/colonial exploitation is difficult to disassociate. We use the term merely as a means of putting ourselves in direct solidarity with the “occupations” that have been occurring the world over from universities to factories to foreclosed homes; from Asia to Europe to Africa to central and south America and, now, here in the United States. They are happening and they are growing. The term that is perhaps more appropriate, and which still expresses the spirit of these movements, is “reclamation.”
Now to the question: why reclaim? Well, none other than CSUF’s own strategic planner Michael Parker, as well the university’s administration, has put out the call. In a document that was released as “pre-event reading” for the President’s Planning Retreat held on January 20th, 2010 Parker wrote the following:
If degrees obviously lead to jobs in fields like healthcare, public administration and pre-legal training, science and engineering, research support, communications, business, pre-medical and dental training that can be seen as crucial to society, then we make our case. More esoteric offerings such as literature, philosophy, fine arts, and so forth will only be justified in the minds of the public as they are clearly related to practical concerns. The fact that these are traditional parts of comprehensive universities is no longer a strong enough argument to the public. (p. 5)
Parker’s argument is that, given the current social mandate (i.e. the demand for high level job preparation in areas like public administration, business and communications), the Schools of Humanities and Arts, along with their subsequent disciplines, are “socially irrelevant.”
However, the term “social mandate” is duplicitous as it, in reality, refers to no social body whatsoever. Instead, it refers to various components of the global economy. As Parker writes: “…international corporations, the European economic Union, the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, and other international trade groups have become an organizing principle for society and are once again reshaping the nature of universities.” (p. 10) Thus, it seems clear to us that the Schools of Humanities and Arts are not “socially” irrelevant but, instead, “economically” irrelevant and, even, politically dangerous to the established economic order that has become an “organizing principle for society.”
Throughout the Presidents Planning Retreat document, as well as another document by Parker entitled “Strategic Planning Activities 10-08 to 09-09”, students, faculty and staff are consistently referred to as “human capital”, “producers”, “consumers” as well as short- and long-term “payoffs” meant for “repurposing” and “downsizing”. It is in the Schools of Humanities and Arts that we learn both the facts and expressions of various forms of social resistance to the commodification of everything – even the commodification of our lives. And it is precisely these programs (Afro-Ethnic Studies, Chicana and Chicano Studies, Asian American Studies, Women’s Studies, Modern Languages, Classical Guitar, and so many more) that show us a world beyond mere commodities and engage critically with the established order of the global economy, that Parker designates as “merely desirable” and “non-essential.” WE are not surprised because WE are dangerous.
And this is precisely why we are reclaiming the Humanities building: because we do not trust an administration that seeks to marginalize alternative narratives to the University of Phoenix business model (p. 10); because we cannot acquiesce to a university administration that called the 2007 CSUF on-campus noose-hangings merely an “offensive act” and not a hate crime; because we refuse to allow the absence of any disruption to a university system that seeks to expel Muslim students at UC Irvine for protesting a pro-Zionist speaker while a woman who hangs a noose at UC San Diego faces mere suspension; because it is absolutely impossible to offer our complicity towards the systematic downsizing of staff and adjunct faculty; and, finally, because we offer our solidarity to the Tongva Indians who, for 18 years, have been fighting developers to preserve the Puvunga, a burial ground on the western edge of campus of CSU Long Beach.
As our project may be to open the school of Humanities to the communities beyond the university context, those outside might ask: why the barricades? The school of Humanities cannot be a truly autonomous space until we have built the community to defend it, to ensure a space devoid of police, university and state violence and repression. As Michael Parker and the university administration have put the call out to reclaim spaces, we put the call out to those communities that wish to oppose systematic and conventional racism, classism and sexism.
For the full Michael Parker documents:
The regents think it’s a great idea. Blumenthal is beside himself. It’s so great that the students are mobilizing to go to Sacramento. Student leaders are excited: the regents are with us! Sacramento must listen! (more…)
HERE are a few fliers to circulate around campus! Just print out the front side, reinsert that page again according to how it printed to begin with, and print the backside on to it…ta-da! Now all there is left to do is cut it in half and distribute to everyone you can! Please spread this to everyone possible!
Students, faculty, and staff are encouraged to strike in solidarity with the nationwide day of action against budget cuts to public education on March 4th. A rally will be held by the CSUF community at 12PM in front of the Humanities building. Bring posters, banners, and NOISE! For more info on March 4th, why it was chosen, etc., click here and here.
CSUF strategist Michael Parker cites military strategies for the foundations of university planning. (more…)
“If degrees obviously lead to jobs in fields like healthcare, public administration and pre-legal training, science and engineering, research support, communications, business, pre-medical and dental training that can be seen as crucial to society, then we make our case. More esoteric offerings such as literature, philosophy, fine arts, and so forth will only be justified in the minds of the public as they are clearly related to practical concerns. The fact that these are traditional parts of comprehensive universities is no longer a strong enough argument to the public.” (more…)