Statement of Solidarity with Striking UCSC Graduate Students

On Wednesday, April 2nd, the union that represents Teaching Assistants at UC Santa Cruz (UCSC) went on strike to protest ongoing harassment of campus workers both at UCSC and at other campuses across the state. In the past few months administrators have threatened students who have international visas, unlawfully videotaped protestors, and falsely claimed that legally sanctioned strikes are illegal, thereby intimidating students who would otherwise stand up for their peers’ and TAs’ rights.

Early in the morning on Wednesday, riot police that had been shipped in from Berkeley for the unambiguous purpose of crushing today’s protest cracked down on union members and their undergraduate supporters without legitimate cause. 19 union members and students were arrested. They spent 10 hours in jail on trumped up charges that have not been dropped. On Thursday morning, 2 more students were arrested under the purview of UCSC’s Executive Vice Chancellor, Allison Galloway.

UCSC Committee for Justice in Palestine (CJP) is outraged that UCSC administrators would sanction such a blatant attack on our rights. UC management has stonewalled and blocked every effort, no matter how miniscule, by students and workers to improve their lot, in hopes of stalling and ultimately quashing any attempts by students and workers to take their fates into their own hands. We refuse to be sidetracked by these machinations.

Today has unmasked the UCSC administrators for what they truly are. They will stoop to any level in order to achieve their goals. These goals are clear—the administration wants to intensify its exploitation of workers on campus and decrease educational services to students while extracting more and more profit from them.

As students who have faced repression by the UC administration in the past, we stand in solidarity with workers currently on strike. As members of the UCSC community we are enmeshed in a system that perpetuates the exploitation of students and workers not just here at UCSC but also in the Middle East, due to the University of California’s political and financial policies.

CJP condemns UCSC’s decision to break a legal strike by force. We support our fellow students and TAs in their efforts to secure a better future for themselves.

Another rally will take place Thursday at noon. We strongly urge our allies to come join us on the picket line. It is important to show UCSC and other UCs statewide that intimidation tactics will not deter us.

In solidarity,

Committee for Justice in Palestine at UC Santa Cruz

Students for Justice in Palestine at UC San Diego

Students for Justice in Palestine at University of Southern California

Students for Justice in Palestine at UC Berkeley

Students for Justice in Palestine at UC Los Angeles

Students for Justice in Palestine at Cal State University Fullerton

Students for Justice in Palestine at San Diego State University

Students for Justice in Palestine speaks at California State University Board of Trustees Meeting to defend right to criticize Israeli occupation

On Wednesday, January 29, 2014, AMCHA Initiative, StandWithUs, and company took the opportunity to delegitimize the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanction (BDS) movement, as well as defame California State University, Northridge (CSUN) Professor David Klein at a CSU Board of Trustees meeting. AMCHA has claimed that he “has inappropriately used university resources on several occasions, including posting anti-Semitic pictures and text on a webpage hosted by CSUN and by using CSUN email for political campaign activity.” (1) Although a letter written by lawyers, Jim Lafferty and Liz Jackson, in September of 2013 provides ample support and clarification that Klein did not violate any CSU policies and was cleared of complaints by the CSUN administration as well as the California Attorney General (2), AMCHA continues the witch-hunt on BDS supporters, such as Klein.

Thanks to mobilization by Jewish Voice for Peace – Los Angeles (JVP – LA), Palestine activists banded together within a matter of a few days to stand up for academic freedom, the BDS movement, and human rights at the CSU Board of Trustees meeting. Representatives from JVP – LA and Students for Justice in Palestine – West (SJP – West), current and former CSU students, and CSU faculty were present to show solidarity with Palestinian civil society’s call for BDS and to protect Professor David Klein’s right to freedom of speech.

SJP – West’s official statement during public comment at the CSU Board of Trustees meetings is as follows:

Students for Justice in Palestine-West would like to thank you for your time today as we urge you to foster an environment tolerant of all speech, including the advocacy of Palestinian rights as well as the boycott of and divestment from corporations that are complicit in Israel’s violations of human rights and international law. Like the students who fought for the boycott of the apartheid regime in South Africa, we are a non-violent movement driven solely by a fundamental belief in universal human rights and their interconnected and unconditional nature.

As an academic institution, the CSU system has a responsibility to recognize and protect the right to education everywhere. In Palestine, access to education is impeded by the brutality of Israeli settlers and soldiers, military checkpoints and the wall, segregated academic institutions, as well as the denial of entry for international academics. As American students, we are deeply concerned for the wellbeing of our Palestinian counterparts. Boycott and Divestment is a means to ensure that all inhabitants of the region, regardless of their religion and ethnicity, live in an equal democratic society.

We applaud American academics who have used their freedom of expression to voice their concerns about the violation of Palestinian human rights, even in the face of coercion and threats.

Along with SJP – West’s statement, 6 others publicly voiced support for academic boycott and freedom, whereas 3 people tried to silence and criminalize that support.

A few days after the CSU Board of Trustees meeting, on Friday, January 31, 2014, CSU Chancellor Tim White issued a statement on behalf of the entire CSU system denouncing Asian American Studies Association, American Studies Association, and Native American Studies Association resolutions endorsing the 2005 call by Palestinian civil society to academically boycott Israel, which is currently being challenged by CSU faculty via petition.

Part of the chancellor’s official statement reads:

“Academic boycotts violate the basic tenets of higher education including academic freedom and scholarly dialog. Boycotts attempt to limit the unfettered creation, discovery and dissemination of knowledge vital to our tripartite mission of research, teaching and service. These characteristics are essential to preparing students with the analytical and critical thinking skills to lead in business, community, educational and civic organizations.”

To paraphrase, according to Chancellor White’s proclamation, academic freedom is important, but what he chooses to ignore are academic restrictions/limitations placed upon Palestinians living under occupation, within and outside of the borders of Israel. Because of these restrictions/limitations, Palestinians are not granted the academic freedom that Chancellor White expresses is part of the “basic tenets of higher education.” Also, contrary to White’s beliefs, an academic boycott of Israel would pressure the state to give equal and just access to education for everyone, which would further academic freedom rather than hinder it.

Despite much effort to stifle critical discussions and actions in relation to Israel by administrators and external organizations, students and faculty continue to push against the current by initiating BDS campaigns and developing Palestine activism on campuses within California (and beyond).

About a month has passed since the CSU Board of Trustees meeting and within that month, a BDS campaign has sprung into action at San Diego State University (SDSU):

sdsu

 

Website: SDSU Divest Webpage

Facebook: SJP SDSU

Twitter: SDSU_SJP

There is no doubt that the BDS movement is growing, is being noticed, and it will not be stopped.