From Students* holding Open University in Wheeler Hall to Fight the Tuition Hikes
As we fight back against our tuition hikes here in California, we* recognize that what we are experiencing is part of a larger system of privatization and militarization around the world, and so we stand in solidarity with the people of Mexico who are grieving and protesting the loss of students abducted by the state. We, too, declare: enough is enough!
Today, November 20th, people across Mexico are mobilizing towards their capital, and communities are organizing in solidarity around the world.
Students currently holding an Open University in Wheeler Hall to Fight the Hike encourage our fellow students and community to join the march today in downtown Berkeley. The march starts downtown at 11:30am at Berkeley City Hall, and will end on UC Berkeley’s campus. https://www.facebook.com/events/476563739148220/
It would be wrongful to pose the Open University at Wheeler Hall, to stop tuition fee hikes, as taking precedent over the 43 missing students. However, we would like to recognize there are significant parallels that help resonate a sense of solidarity between these two important issues.
We are both struggling to defend education, civil rights, and justice, against privatization of public resources, state oppression, and lack of government support.
These students were from Ayotzinapa’s rural teachers college. This school offers free education to the rural and poor indigenous people. Before being kidnapped, these students were fighting against education reforms that were obstructing the college’s mission of being a free institution. These students were kidnapped during their yearly trip down to the capital to demand increased funding for their education. Six students were shot and the rest abruptly disappeared after the hijacking of their bus. This tragedy, which has erupted uproar across Mexico and the world, is tied to the corrupt government of Mexico, lack of support of education, and the hostile political environment towards what was considered a “radical” fight for public resources to meet public needs.
We feel that our cause is not unique from the cause of these 43 missing students. We believe in a just system of education, the power to voice and think critically about these concerns, and freedom from repression from our University and our government. During previous movements against tuition hikes in recent history, students have been beaten, pepper sprayed, and had guns pulled on them by the UC Police Department. Just yesterday, a student was arrested after police instigation contributed to the shattering of a glass door at the building where the UC Regents have been deliberating fee hikes.
Our struggles weave together in the tapestry of global injustice. The tensions of Ayotzinapa have not been forgotten amidst the current Regent’s decision to increase tuition hikes. There has been a pulsing dialogue over what is happening in Mexico. There has also been frequent visible and verbal support of not taking away bodies from the Ayotzinapa demonstration that is protesting and marching from city hall and the demonstration on sproul. We hope we can find some common ground with the current intersections of all these political and social upheavals in the community at Berkeley and globally.
* This letter was written by organizers and facilitators of the Open University in Wheeler Hall to Fight the Hike. In the interest of time, this was not officially voted on by the democratic process of the Open University. At the General Assembly on 11/19, many students and community members spoke in solidarity with Ayotzinapa, and so it is the opinion of organizers that this letter expresses the sentiment, if not exact words, of most of the students of the Open University.