December 9, 2009

New Protest Group And More Action...Hunger Strike and Sing-In Going On Now

The protests against the employee cuts are picking up again today with a hunger strike and a sing-in, among other things.


Students and employees are currently taking up a third of the Retreat and singing songs, including "We Shall Overcome." The song was popularized during the Civil Rights movement by Pete Seeger, who spoke out against the cuts back in October when we performed at Vassar. Song sheets were distributed and students are playing guitars and other instruments.

"Our hope is to keep this going as long as we possibly can, until our voices can’t sing anymore," writes Nathan Orians '10 in an email to various students and employees about the Campus Solidarity Working Group's "Day of Action."

Several students are also stationed by the entrance to Main with a sign behind them stating that they will "hunger strike until layoffs canceled." The strike is the work of the new Uppity group, which aims to take more drastic measures than the Campus Solidarity movement does. "We believe radical and structural change is the only way out of this cycle," the group's blog states as its mission. According to the group's Twitter page, three students are striking. From the blog:

"An autonomous group of Vassar students who resist the corporatization of their college began a hunger strike at 11:59 pm on Tuesday, December 8th. The hunger strikers will not eat until the administration cancels the layoffs of 13 members of the Vassar community, who have been notified that their jobs will no longer exist come Christmas break. The administration has refused to engage in direct negotiations with the unions on campus."

The last hunger strike against the firing of campus workers took place in May, during which five students went without eating for five days. "This time the hunger strikers will not accept temporary fixes or band-aids," a blog post states, adding,"They refuse to nourish their bodies until jobs are restored."

There will also be a vigil today at 4:00 on Raymond Avenue behind the library.

12.9.09 2:01pm

5 comments:

Some Uppity Motherfuckers said...

Just to make it clear that the hunger strike was organized by an autonomous group, and that it is not connected to the CSWG actions.

Janusz said...

I don't think either group, the CSWG or Uppity, has been very clear at proposing what measures they wish to enact that will enable the college to maintain a sustainable financial policy. I don't support the laying off of campus workers, but neither do I support curriculum cuts at an educational institution. And I've noticed that while Uppity's blog states its mission statement, it does not offer any sort of alternative or viable solution to the current problem. The ONLY measure I have seen proposed is that Cappy take a pay cut. She has. And to be honest, Cappy's salary is minuscule compared to the amount of money the college requires. Also, I feel it is hopeless naive of Uppity to frame their struggle as one between themselves and "those with institutional power." They, as students, directly benefit from those with institutional power, because those people in power perpetuate the entire structure of education at Vassar, which has made Vassar the competitive institution that it is today. They are enrolled at Vassar, I assume, because they wish to better themselves. This is in no way intended as a blanket approval of all the policies of this institution, but Uppity abrogates their right to demand the downfall of the structure and its "radical change" when they themselves benefit so heavily from it.

Vassar Action said...

I pose a question: If you disagree with the administration and the cswg and "uppity" what is stopping you from attempting to do something else.

critique all you want, but what is your critique worth without action?

arhall7 said...

At the same time, what is ideological action without the proposition of viable alternatives.

No one wants to see courses or sections cut. Financial aid has increased. Need Blind Admissions has remained in place. No one wants employees to be laid off.

And yet, as far as I'm aware, while the working wants to see more "creative solutions" they themselves offer nothing except 'Cappy needs a pay cut.'

Bernie said...

Furthermore, one of the things these groups say they are fighting for is respect for the workers. Respect is a two-way street, and the whole "Cappy needs a pay cut" business is blatantly disrespectful.