Why We Demand

WHY WE DEMAND!

Short of a complete overthrow of the current system and complete empowerment of students and workers, we seek to speak to the particular conditions of the masses of students and workers. We submit these twelve demands to the UC Irvine administration and three demands to the UC Regents because we have legitimate grievances that need to be immediately addressed. Our effort is in the direction of building an equal system that benefits all.

1) We demand that administration implement a comprehensive financial aid system by fall 2010 that apportions grant aid (excluding loans from the equation) and on-campus housing based on family wealth rather than income. Financial aid must be designed to counteract the economic effects of structural and systemic racism in our society.

Put simply, the role of the financial aid system is to protect a student’s right to higher education. In the spirit of that right, and in the spirit of the California Master Plan for Higher Education, the cost for students to attend a UC must be negligible, that is, no student should be forced to incur any debt burden in order to attend, and no student should be priced out of college. Financial aid must ensure this outcome by providing comprehensive aid packages that cover all expenses not covered by scholarships and state and federal grants. Special attention must be paid to ensure that the right to attend is protected for students from historically oppressed groups and for students from poor families. This is all said understanding that financial aid is only one site within the university; all other academic and administrative divisions of the university must also work to protect the right of all students to higher education.

2) We demand the immediate direct hiring of all outsourced ABM workers and fair pay for all campus workers.  Students and workers do not support discriminatory hiring practices that victimize immigrant, Latina/o working families.

UCI spends millions every year to contract out it campus facilities custodial services to ABM Janitorial Services. This company employs approximately 155 workers that are all Latinas/os that earn wages and benefits far below those that work directly for UCI and are in worse working conditions. As a result, most workers have incomes that make them eligible for public benefits including public housing subsidies, Medi-cal, WIC supplemental foods, and reduced-price school meals. These conditions create higher costs for not only workers, but also for the very community UCI is meant to serve. UCI is the last UC campus to have such a large group of service workers contracted out. In Southern California, UCI is the only remaining UC campus to contract out its custodial services. The ABM workers are in charge of cleaning all the offices, classrooms, lecture halls, labs and restrooms on the campus and have done it with dedication and commitment for over 20 years. Until June 2009, ABM workers were earning $8.25/hour. As a result of community and workers’ support, UCI agreed to raise all of the ABM workers wages to $12.00/hour which is still below what direct UCI workers earn and far below a sustainable wage. According to a study in 2008, for two adults and two children to live in Orange County each adult needs to earn a living wage of $17.43/hr. ABM workers receive only two sick days per year after working for the company for at least one year, have no dental and vision insurance, and have fewer holidays compared to those of UCI workers. Additionally, workers have expressed that ABM management does not offer any adequate safety training, respect, and professionalism. We are demanding that all ABM workers be hired directly by UCI.

3) We demand that Chancellor Drake publicly commit to seeking out private donations that will specifically fund financial aid to AB540 students or begin funding financial aid for AB540 students directly from his office’s discretionary funds. We want administration to publicly recognize that AB540 students do not share the same economic freedoms and securities as other populations.

According to the Bell Policy Center and the Pew Hispanic Center, in the U.S. there are 1.7 million undocumented youth under the age of 18, with approximately 1.3 million having lived in the US for 5 years or more and enrolled in K-12 schools in the year of 2002. About 80,000 undocumented immigrants turn 18 each year, and ONLY 1 out of every 20 (5%) of undocumented high school seniors attends college. In response to a need to address the reality of undocumented students attempting to attain a higher education, California Assembly Bill 540 (AB 540) was signed into law in October 2001, which, providing that students meet certain requirements, exempts students from paying nonresident tuition at California public colleges and universities. According to a UCOP Student Financial Support report, in the 2005-2006 school year, there were a total of 1,126 undergrads enrolled in the UC system classified as AB540. Of those 1,126 undergraduate students, ONLY 380 were potentially undocumented, contrary to misconceptions and stereotypes that all or even the majority of AB540 are undocumented students. For that same year, the report states that 59.2% of AB540 students had a family income of less than $40,000. Since undocumented students are denied access to institutional aid such as federal grants, cal grants, or loans, the tuition hikes will have a tremendous impact on AB540 students. How can 59.2% of AB540 students pay over $10,000 in tuition fees while being denied even taking out a student loan?! Paying over $10,000 in tuition fees would mean that a family would have to pay over 25% of their annual income for their children’s education!!!! It is outrageous! Because of the magnitude of such odds, many AB540 students have dropped out of school. This is why it is extremely crucial for the UC system to implement retention programs and/or find alternatives to fund the education of these very promising but marginalized group of students. Such a thing will take more than just public statements or written letters by UC officials in support of equal opportunity for education, it’s going to take concrete action…

4) We demand that UCI administration immediately disarm all police officers of Tasers.  This action is supported by the December 2009 ruling of the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals. The Taser has replaced the lash of the whip as a device in the service of state sanctioned anti-blackness, evidenced so blatantly at UCLA this past November, and UCI’s administration should lead in the banning of this device.

Black existence in the Americas has been defined by a perpetual and gratuitous openness to violence. Antiblackness is the self-justifying performance of this violence–in the forms of policing, mass incarceration, impoverishment, denial of access to health and education, and derogatory cultural practices, among others–against the black body. That is, to be “black” is to be outside of the protections of civil society. Consequently, to be a police officer is to patrol the borders of civil society, to ensure the openness of the black body to state violence. This is to say that, rather than the police providing an important public service and occasionally violating the bodily integrity of black subjects, the police violate the bodily integrity of black subjects and occasionally provide a public service. In lieu of removing the police from our campus, the administration must work to remove the police’s means of violence against all oppressed members of our community.

5) We demand that UCI immediately equip the campus with gender neutral bathrooms. Students and workers who do not fit the illusion of gender normativity suffer routine violence and intimidation. UC should not privilege heteronormativity over the interests of its LGBT community.

A simple and inexpensive measure, the conversion of sex-segregated bathrooms to gender neutral bathrooms (in most cases as simple as the replacement of a sign on the door) can dramatically improve the living conditions of transgender, gender non-comforming, presumably LGBT, and disabled persons, along with the parents of small children. Rather than continue to leave these members of the university community open to assault, intimidation and police intervention, the administration must work to take the same measures as numerous other universities and places of business to equip our campus with gender neutral bathrooms.

6) We demand the recall of the three groundskeepers that were laidoff in October 2009 and the reinstatement of the 5% time reduction of the entire campus of AFSCME 3299 service unit.

UCI has laid off 3 groundskeepers from campus Facilities Management due to budgetary constraints since October 2009. As a method of trying to implement a form of a furlough, UCI has given all campus AFSCME 3299 service workers a 5% time reduction in the form of cutting their hours by 30 minutes every day. This affects over 400 service workers that are some of the lowest paid workers in the UC system. The San Jose Mercury Newspaper quoted UC as saying that furloughing workers earning $40,000 and under would save the UC system only $8 million. Instead, we propose that UC use the $800 million it has reserved for low-interest home loans to senior management and faculty to preserve core services (look at the AFSCME Local 3299 Budget Reduction Plan Realignment for more alternatives that AFSCME has offered to avoid layoffs and furloughs).

7) We demand that no disciplinary action (academic or legal) be taken against the 11 students arrested at Ambassador Oren’s event. UCI and the surrounding community’s repeated attacks against, and hyper-surveillance of, Muslim and Arab students aids in branding legitimate political criticisms against the apartheid state of Israel as ‘uncivil’ and fosters a segregated cultural, social, and intellectual climate for the university. Deploying rhetoric that equates anti-Zionism with anti-Semitism serves to annihilate rather than engage in dialogue.

Critiques of the racist and genocidal politics of Zionism (which have killed and displaced millions of Palestinians for the sake of building a Jewish homeland in what is today called Israel) cannot and should not ever be equated with anti-Semitism – the hatred of Jewish people. We oppose the racist assumptions of monolithic racial/ethnic thinking assumed in equating anti-Semitism with anti-Zionism; that all Jewish people are supporters of the Apartheid State of Israel and that all Jewish people believe in the right of Israel to exist when, in fact, neither is true.

8) We demand 100% funding from administration for a recruitment and retention center for underrepresented students. Recruiting and retaining students of color and low-income students should be a campus priority, but UCI has neglected to support these important efforts.

UC Irvine prides itself on the fact that it is the first UC campus with a Cross-Cultural Center but is one of only two UC campuses without a retention and recruitment center for the same students that the Cross-Cultural Center is designed to help. Instead, students volunteer their own time with continually limited funding from CFEP (Center for Educational Partnerships) to put together spectacular programs that should be put together by an administration that truly believes in diversity.

9) We demand that until state-funding has been restored to the UC system in full, that all budget cuts imposed in the fall be redistributed by imposing an equal percentage cut to each of UCI’s schools.

We understand the position administration is put in when the state chooses to divest away from the UC system. However, we charge UCI administration with mismanagement of the funds it does have at its disposal. Budget cuts should not be felt disproportionately depending on students major. It is only the states investment in war making and ‘easy profit’ industries that allows for the Humanities and Arts schools to suffer budget cuts more harshly than other schools. In order to value every student equally, we propose equal cuts across the board.

10) We demand that UCI administration immediately reinvest in the ethnic, queer, and women’s studies departments/programs. UCI should foster an environment that is supportive of students who are considered outside of the “mythical norms” of our society. As evidenced so blatantly at UCSD this past week, Black subjects are in an antagonistic position against the institution, this sentiment is reinforced by administration and creates a safe space for anti-blackness. UCI administration should lead in creating a campus that engages in academic, political, and social reeducation that challenges structural and individual racism, sexism, heterosexism, and homophobia.

To state more clearly, we are seeking financial investment in the above mentioned departments/ programs. To start, we would like the African-American studies program to be made into a full department. The need for this is exemplified in the recent article in the New University in which post racial ideals were used to equate victims of systemic racism as being reverse racist. To quote directly, “focusing on everyone’s ethnic background… in the form of clubs, organizations and holidays is racist because all it seeks to do is give preferential treatment to self-segregating groups whose main purpose is to cry eternal victimhood.” Since the university continues to promote a Eurocentric educational agenda that erases the narratives of people of color, women, and queers, it make sense that a student would believe that the Civil Rights Movement was end game in racial struggle and amends 300 years of racial slavery. These departments and programs serve to reeducate the miseducated, ill informed, and ignorant of race, gender, and sexuality. They benefit the students that identify with the subject through self definition, but more importantly they benefit the campus at large in creating a climate that is intellectually diverse.

11) We demand that Chancellor Drake publicly disclose all of UCI’s military and private security contracts. Furthermore, we demand that Chancellor Drake shut down the Center for Unconventional Security Affairs and discontinue all military and Homeland Security contracts that aid in both the mass murder of people around the world by U.S. imperialism (particularly in Afghanistan, Iraq, Gaza, and Pakistan) or the violent police repression of students and workers within the U.S. In solidarity with workers and students around the world, we demand an end to genocidal imperialist wars for profit and empire: U.S. imperialism out of Iraq and Afghanistan!

12) We demand that UCI not feed the prison-industrial complex. We demand that UCI end its contract with Motorola by fall 2010. Furthermore, we demand the removal of all Dell, IBM, and Texas Instrument products by fall 2010 as well.

The prison-industrial complex is a vicious cycle wherein the profits of prison labor beget the mass imprisonment of black and brown peoples which in turn drives the profits of privately-run prisons and companies that utilize prison labor. Fueling the prison-industrial complex has created an America where nearly one-half of black men between the ages of 18 and 25 are in prison or on probation or parole. The prison is the only site in the modern United States where–in accordance with the Thirteenth Amendment–a person may be subjected to enslavement and involuntary servitude. In order to undo the damage done by profit-driven imprisonment, to resist the state-sanctioned enslavement and exploitation of black and brown peoples, and to stand for the rights of black and brown students to go to college rather than to prison, the administration must cut ties with companies utilizing prison labor.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: