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Indybay FeatureRelated Categories: California | East Bay | Education & Student Activism | Global Justice and Anti-Capitalism
UC Berkeley Students Occupy Blum Center: The Blum Center Takeover Manifesto
On February 13, students took over the Blum Center at UC Berkeley and released the following manifesto.
The Blum Center Takeover Manifesto
The Blum Center Take-over group calls for:
1) UC Berkeley Chancellor Dirks to publicly renounce Janet Napolitano.
2) For all those in solidarity to cancel classes tomorrow (Friday, Feb 14), and for people to build a strike in support of Napolitano’s resignation and for the democratization of the University.
3) Full amnesty for all those reclaiming campus space, including those who have taken the Blum Center.
Why we are taking the Blum Center:
Richard Blum, the primary funder and namesake of the Blum Center, represents and acts as a driving force of privatization and reorganization of the University of California system. As an investment banker, Blum profits from the fact that the UC is no longer funded primarily through the federal government. As a central figure in pushing away from federal subsidization of education, and therefore a completely affordable or free public education, Blum and other bankers and financiers on the board of regents--including Monica Lozano--have compelled the University to take out massive bonds from private banks to compensate for this lack of funding. Public funding is legally allowed to go to only educational resources bonds, and the tuition system that allow this process to happen can be used for whatever the regents want. In many cases, this money is tied to companies that these regents own. For example, Blum owns the equity management firm Blum Capital, which has massive investments in the companies that do all of the construction at the UC. To those who believe in a public and democratic education, this is seen as legalized fraud and corruption.
Blum and Janet Napolitano’s Special Relationship:
UC regent Richard Blum was central in proposing Janet Napolitano. Richard Blum’s record includes firing Robert Dynes in 2007, leading the search for Mark Yudof, and encouraging Yudof's resignation before overseeing the "search" for a new UC president. Although the Regents state that this was done through a headhunting agency, Blum was instrumental in making the final decision. We conclude that central decisions for filling the highest-ranking positions in the UC system continue to be made by those who stand to profit from privatization. Blum’s interest in keeping a business-as-usual that allows for massive profits for companies to which he has ties indicates Napolitano’s appointment as a means to continue this process of implementing policies of social control during her time in DHS.
Blum’s 12 year term as a UC regent ended in January. His reappointment by Jerry Brown for a second 12 year term this past January shows that the regents, like him, will continue to retain power unless there is a social response to this injustice.
The appointment of Napolitano exposes the undemocratic process by which the UC system makes decisions. In order to address this structural problem, we demand a restructuring of this process which includes: a) a campuses-wide election for all future UC regents and presidents; this includes having the ability to nominate, endorse, and campaign for candidates b) the power to impeach both UC presidents and regents c) a general democratization of the regents to include actual participation of students, faculty, and UC workers in the central decision making processes of the University.
We call on all students, faculty, and staff to join us, to take action in the coming days and weeks, and to demand the restructuring of the decision making process in our university system, so that we can make the promise of a public education a reality.
Students take over the Richard Blum Hall in UC Berkeley as they call for Janet Napolitano's resignation.
STATEMENT FROM THE BLUM 11: We have communicated with David Suratt, the Dean of Students, who ensured us that if we were arrested, we would only be cited, and we would not be detained. However, Suratt has now stepped out of the negotiations, leaving us to deal with the police of our own accord. The information we have now is that police are suspected to come in before 7 AM. We thank everyone for their resilience and ask anyone who isn't out here with us to please join as we continue to demand Napolitano's resignation.
Undocumented Groups, Student Coalitions, Faculty and Community Organizations Demand the Resignation of Janet Napolitano as President of the UC System
We, the Student of Color Solidarity Coalition (SCSC), fervently oppose Napolitano’s selection as UC President. We recognize her to be a violator of human rights, and a threat to democratic public education. As head of the Department of Homeland Security – and its major division, the Immigration Customs Enforcement (ICE) – from 2009-2013, Napolitano terrorized, incarcerated and deported nearly 2,000,000 undocumented immigrants. Napolitano claims that she was simply enforcing the “nation’s immigration laws.” However, she played a major role in creating, expanding and implementing unethical programs such as Secure Communities and 287 (g) agreements, which continue to tear families apart, rely on rampant racial profiling and rake in billions for private prisons and security firms.
The selection of Napolitano poses a threat to our right to a democratic and public education. The University of California system, championed as one of the country’s outstanding institutions for public higher education, should not be administered by the same actors that implemented militarization and privatization strategies in the Department of Homeland Security. California has one of the largest immigrant populations in the country, as well as a long history of advocacy that has seen this community make strong gains. While just months ago Napolitano was leading an aggressive attack on immigrants, she is now administering one of the largest public education institutions in the nation. In fact, California has already stood against Napolitano and her record of deportations by endorsing the TRUST Act, a bill repudiating Secure Communities. Napolitano endorsed this bill, discrediting the very same programs she expanded—an action which shows that she cannot be relied upon to make ethical decisions, and furthermore reflects her political opportunism.
Napolitano bears an abhorrent human rights record. As the head of DHS she oversaw an unacceptable increase in prolonged, mandatory and unnecessary detentions. This increase was achieved through the use of unlawful “Bed Mandates” and deportation quotas which required an average of 34,000 people be detained everyday and 400,000 people be deported every year, regardless of the fact that the vast majority of them qualified for release based on Homeland Security’s own guidelines. These detentions and deportations lead to unprecedented increases in profits for private prison companies and security firms, such as Corrections Corporation of America and GEO group. These corporations have strongly lobbied for and pushed for legislation that criminalizes immigrants and people of color. The policies she has supported further incentivize the detention of undocumented people and lead to increases in incarceration rates, among other human rights abuses. This damning proof should be enough to have her removed from her position as the head of any educational institution, let alone the UC system. If she continues to serve as UC president, we expect further militarization and privatization of UC campuses.
We have refused to stand idle in response to Napolitano’s election. As opposed to the “warm welcomes” she claims to have received, there has been visible discontent at every UC campus she has visited. This response has grown into a unified opposition to Napolitano’s appointment and the undemocratic process by which she was appointed. We see Napolitano’s appointment as not only an insult to our values, but also as a violent threat to public education. Her background as a human rights violator makes her appointment detrimental to the values and struggles upon which our communities stand. We will continue to protest and to build student power from the bottom up until Janet Napolitano is removed from her position. Following her removal, we demand the democratization of the process by which UC Regents and UC officials are selected in order to facilitate full student participation in our education system.
As students of the University of California, it is our duty to challenge Napolitano’s appointment. Seeing to this, the SCSC hereby urges the fulfillment of the following demands:
1. We demand the immediate resignation or impeachment of Janet Napolitano as UC President;
2. We demand that next and all future UC presidents be someone who
· a) is elected by students, faculty, workers and community members
· b) has an extensive and positive background in education
· c) works towards completely eliminating student debt through full subsidization
· d) comes from and has worked with communities in California
· e) supports all programs/resources that serve underrepresented communities;
3. The appointment of Napolitano exposes the undemocratic process by which the UC system makes decisions. In order to address this structural problem, we demand a restructuring of this process which includes:
· a) a campuses-wide election for all future UC regents; this includes having the ability to nominate, endorse, and campaign for candidates
· b) the power to impeach both UC presidents and regents
· c) a general democratization of the regents to include true participation of students, faculty, and UC workers in the central decision making processes of the University.
We invite all UC students, staff, faculty and community members who are concerned by these recent events and agree that these demands best reflect the future changes they would like to see, to sign this letter and join and help shape this fight.
You can email us at notonapolitano [at] gmail.com
or visit our facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/no2napolitano
the Students of Color Solidarity Coalition
-MEChXA de UC Berkeley
-Phi Nu Xi Multicultural Sorority
-OPBSI, Inc,. Beta Mu Chapter
-Raza Recruitment and Retention Center
-Strike Debt at UC Berkeley
-Casa Zimbabwe Co-op
-Berkeley Unit of UAW 2865
-Anthropology Undergraduate Association
-Raza Graduate Students
For More Information: http://notonapolitano.tumblr.com/post/76587968284/blum-center-takeover-manifesto
"We have occupied the Blum Center for 25 hours now, in response to Napolitano's "listening and learning" tour, and we could not have done it without the coalition, community, supporters, and others engaged in this struggle. Although we have exited the building, we believe that our actions will only escalate as we continue to make our voices heard and take back the space we deserve. Because our demands have NOT been met, we will not stop and we will not forget."