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This occasional roundup of student movement stories is put together by Isabelle Nastasia, a CUNY undergrad, New York Students Rising organizer, and friend of this site. 

Featured Campus of the Day: Emory University

As American as … Compromise – Emory website (Trigger warning: this is super racist.)

Controversy Over Wagners Column – Emory Wheel

Emory President Holds Up Three-Fifth Compromise as Noble and Honorable  – Salon

Emory President Praises Three-Fifths Compromise as a “Pragmatic Solution” – Gawker

Faculty Censure Wagner, Consider Voting No Confidence – Emory Wheel

Important perspectives on education injustice:

Conservatives Declare War on College – Salon

Truth and Justice Report – Colorado Progressive Coalition

Universities Overtake Prisons in Gov. Walker’s Budget – JS Online (Maxwell Love of United Council of UW Students says “Before you start patting the Governor on the back: we lost $350 million and [UW students] get back $100 million…”)

Why Do Black and Latino Youth Struggle in School? – Colorlines

Sallie Mae Sells Interest – ZACKS

The Revolution Will Not be Televised: Deconstructing the News Briefing on Higher Ed Funding – Restructuring Public Higher Ed

Student Loans Unable to Refinanced – TIME

Free Education – McGill Daily (MOOCs are a growing part of the education crisis in Quebec as well in the U.S.)

College Students Struggle to Complete Education – The Knight News

Deferred Cooper Union Applicants Feel Like Collateral in Board’s Beef with Art School – Village Voice

Another Dark Day for Indiana’s Public Schools – Journal Gazette

Whether we are occupying buildings or writing bills,  we are students taking action!

CCSF Students Occupy Conlan Hall – Golden Gates Express (ABC Local covered this as well.)

Students, Faculty Call for Leadership Overhaul of Wilberforce – Springfield News

Speech to the University Regents – Student Union of Michigan

The New Deal for Students – USSA

Steps forward on the policy-change front:

Denver Takes Bold Step Towards Eliminating its School-to-Prison Pipeline – Colorlines

DMW releasing Drivers Licenses to Many Immigrants – WRAL (Colorlines tells us why they are still problematic for many DREAMers, here)

No Salary Increase for UC – Changing Universities

Bookstore punts Adidas Gear From Shelves – The Santa Clara

Essays on student movement-building and radical organizing strategy:

Charging Through the Archway of History: Immigrants and African Americans Unite to Transform of Labor and the Power of Community – Portside

Hidden in Plain Sight – Free University NYC (Commissioned by Tidal 4 – Occupy Theory. This piece is a collaboration between myself, Manissa McCleave Maharawal, Conor Tomas Reed and Zoltan Gluck–faculty and students at CUNY.)

Developing Militant the Lefts Minstrel Show and How College Educated Revolutionaries of All Colors Keep the Working Class Shucking and Jiving – Fire Next Time

What is a Strike?  –  IDS News

Several dozen students briefly occupied Dutton Hall, an administration building on the University of California Davis campus, yesterday afternoon in protest against Israeli attacks on Gaza. The protest came one day after the first anniversary of last year’s notorious pepper-spraying of UC Davis activists by campus police.

According to the California Aggie, the UC Davis student newspaper, tempers flared between protesters and pro-Israel students at the occupation in two separate incidents.

The paper says that when demonstrators saw one student recording the action on her camera phone they approached her and “two neighboring Israeli students, yelling ‘Death to Israel’ and ‘Fuck Israel’ until they left.” Later, the paper reported, a demonstrator “grabbed [another student] by the shirt collar and raised a fist” after he “vocalized disagreement with one of the signs in the room.”

It’s not clear whether Aggie reporters witnessed either of the two incidents. The paper’s tweets from the scene mentioned only “heated … talk,” not intimidation or physical confrontation.

Update | Aggie editor and article author Janelle Bitker says she and another Aggie staffer witnessed both incidents.

Tomorrow the US Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in the case of Fisher v. Texas, addressing the constitutionality of affirmative action in college admissions. I wrote a piece on the history of the case and how the Court might rule back in July, and I’d encourage you to go take a look at it if you’re not familiar with the background. But this morning I want to talk about something a little less technical.

Here’s how the case’s plaintiff, rejected University of Texas applicant Abigail Fisher, described what’s at stake in today’s New York Times:

“I’m hoping that they’ll completely take race out of the issue in terms of admissions and that everyone will be able to get into any school that they want no matter what race they are but solely based on their merit and if they work hard for it.”

For better or worse, that’s not remotely on the table.

Colleges accept and reject candidates for all sorts of reasons that have little or nothing to do with merit. They take legacies — relatives of other graduates — because those admissions are good for alumni donations. They accept football players because bowl games and shirt sales are good for the bottom line. Many private colleges consider a student’s wealth in admissions decisions, and many publics are pumping up out-of-state admissions to enhance tuition revenue. None of this has anything to do with merit.

And all of it is completely legal.

That’s worth underscoring. It’s not illegal to discriminate on the basis of non-academic factors in college admissions in the United States. There are no barriers to rejecting students because they’re not rich, or went to crappy high schools, or studied the piccolo instead of the oboe in a year when you’ve already got enough piccolo players. Unfair, arbitrary, and venal admissions standards are part of the fabric of every selective college’s decision-making process.

And there’s something truly twisted about the argument that all of that is okay but affirmative action — precisely because it’s intended as a remedy for the country’s long history of racial discrimination, a history that didn’t end in 1865 or 1954 or 1963, but continues to this very day — is not.

When we as a country say that it’s right and just to accept one student because her high school had a great gymnastics program or her parents are big donors or her grandfather was a dean while while we simultaneously recoil at the “racism” of giving a boost to another student who, as a result of the nation’s persisting inequities, had no chance to acquire any of those advantages, we aren’t saying we want to move beyond our history of racial discrimination.

We’re saying we want to lock it in.

When the student union at the University of Florida was built in 1967, students requested that it be named in honor of outgoing university president J. Wayne Reitz. Today, students are fighting over whether that name should stand.

As UF president, Reitz participated in a purge of gay faculty and students that involved the firing and expulsion of dozens of people. During his administration, the university also failed to integrate until placed under court order, and then only haltingly, and in 1967 a popular professor was denied tenure  because of his political views.

Student activists at UF want the union building renamed for Virgil Hawkins, a local black scholar who fought a ten-year battle to integrate the UF school of law in the 1940s and 50s, but the attempt has run into resistance from the campus student government.

Student of color and LGBT groups on campus have held several demonstrations around the issue, with tensions rising after a popular law professor’s car was vandalized with the word “faggot” in mid-September.

Activists collected five hundred signatures in recent months in favor of a non-binding campus referendum on the name change, but student government officials have attempted to block it twice — first by claiming that the signatures were improperly obtained, and then, when that challenge was rejected, by objecting to the wording of the referendum question. Critics of the student government say the body is being improperly influenced by the Reitz family, who remain major donors to the university.

In a late September ruling the student government court stripped the contested language from the question, but allowed the referendum to be placed before the students, with the referendum expected later this month.

After a stint heading up a group called Youth for Western Civilization, a student at Maryland’s Towson University is looking to start a White Student Union on campus.

I wrote about the White Student Union phenomenon a few years ago, saying that I’d never heard anyone make a sincere argument for the creation of such groups:

When someone asks me [why white students can’t have WSUs], my response is always pretty much the same: “Do you actually want to have a White Student Union on campus? Would you be active in a WSU there was one? Is there stuff you’d like to be doing that the absence of a WSU is keeping you from doing?”

So far, nobody has ever answered any of these questions with a yes.

The guy I’ve been talking to on Twitter says he wanted “to make a point about the wrongness of segregation, regardless of purpose.” But you don’t demonstrate that something is bad “regardless of purpose” by showing that it’s bad if it has no purpose, you demonstrate it by showing that it’s bad even if it has a great purpose.

That’s the first fundamental problem with the WSU thought experiment — it doesn’t engage with the reasons that BSUs exist.

While I stand by everything I wrote back then, this case is a little different than the ones I’d seen before.

Matthew Heimbach, the flag-bearer for Towson’s WSU, is an active neo-Confederate who attended a white supremacist conference earlier this year, and paraphrased a notorious neo-Nazi slogan in a recent letter to the Towson student newspaper. He believes that the 69% white Towson campus is “hostile toward white students,” and that white students, who “share a bond that is far deeper than skin color,” must “take a stand for our people before it is too late.”

So yeah, let me rephrase. I’ve never encountered anyone who actually wanted to have a WSU on their campus who wasn’t an aggressively paranoid racist.

About This Blog

n7772graysmall is the work of Angus Johnston, a historian and advocate of American student organizing.

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