Friday, May 28, 2010

Conflict at University of Puerto Rico

I am always interested in what is going on in academia. Please find below info on the conflict at the University of Puerto Rico:

Dear colleagues, students, and friends:

As many of you already know, students at the University of Puerto Rico have been on strike for 37 days now and have de facto paralyzed all but one of the eleven campuses that comprise the system. At the core of this conflict is the future of public higher education in Puerto Rico. This includes critical issues concerning the current state budgetary crisis and its potentially detrimental effects on the life of the university, but it also bears upon questions that go beyond economic matters, as we hope the information enclosed below makes clear.

Even though talks between students and the university administration have recently resumed, the situation is still volatile and rather precarious. Students have been beaten by the police as recently as last week, and riot squads have been deployed, and are still on call, to siege university campuses all around the island. Two weeks ago Police Chief José Figueroa Sancha, with the support of university authorities, forbade water and food supplies to students who are occupying the main campus of the system (Río Piedras). This measure was finally withdrawn after much outrage from the community. Most recently, this past Monday a student, Natalia Sánchez López, died from unknown causes following her participation in a student assembly on the Mayagüez campus. University authorities had ensured that this gathering would take place in uncomfortable and potentially harmful conditions in order to discourage participation. Many students were treated for dehydration throughout the proceedings, and an investigation into Natalia’s death is still under way. Finally, yesterday several thousand protesters, of all ages and backgrounds, marched on the capitol building and the governor’s mansion in support of the students’ demands.

For your information, we are enclosing here a link to a segment on Amy Goodman’s program, Democracy Now, that addresses this current crisis, a link to a NYT article on the strike, and both the original Spanish version and an English translation of the Declaration of Puerto Rican Academics in the US (originally published in Spanish on May 20, 2010 and signed by 65 professors) in which we discuss some of the deeper implications of the conflict. Below you will also find two additional links: 1) to the students’ news service (Desde Adentro-rojogallito); and 2) to the strikers’ own radio station (Radio Huelga).

As this situation has received so little coverage outside Puerto Rico, some of us have deemed it important to send this information to our networks. Please help us to disseminate it by sharing it with your lists.

Many thanks,

Agnes Lugo-Ortiz, The University of Chicago

Aldo Lauria-Santiago, Rutgers University

Ivette Hernández-Torres, University of California, Irvine

Luis Avilés, University of California, Irvine

Amy Goodman, Democracy Now

NYT Article on PR Student Strike
U.S. | May 21, 2010

Student Protests Tie Up Campuses in Puerto Rico


Most of the University of Puerto Rico system has been shut down by students seeking greater transparency.

UPR Student News Service, Desde Adentro-rojogallito

Radio Huelga

Racial Profiling in Arizona

Below is a statement by The Diverse and Revolutionary Unitarian Universalist Multicultural Ministries (DRUUMM), an organization of UUs of color and Latina/o ministers, religious educators, seminarians and staff comprised of individuals that come together to support and advocate for one another, their colleagues and their ministries.

Question: What are you doing to build and support bridges between people?
Blessings! Rev. Qiyamah

May 28, 2010

DRUUMM (Diverse and Revolutionary Unitarian Universalist Multicultural Ministries) join with other Unitarian Universalists concerned with justice to condemn the new racial profiling laws in Arizona and we urge Unitarian Universalists who identify as people of color/Latina/o/Hispanic to express their outrage individually and collectively at these laws which allow law enforcement to target people based on race. We particularly note the statement by LUUNA (Latina/o Unitarian Universalist Networking Association) which notes about this law that “its very vagueness will provide a means for law enforcement agencies to harass individuals on the basis of appearance alone.”

Because some of our members have indicated their concern that they would not be safe travelling to and within Arizona as long as such racial profiling laws exist, we also support the proposed boycott of General Assembly. To hold a General Assembly without the total spectrum of our members is exclusionary. We also urge our General Assembly delegates this year to explore other options that could keep us in dialogue with the people of Arizona.

We remind our Unitarian Universalist family that such actions do have impact. In the late 1980s, when Arizona refused to honor the Martin Luther King holiday, Unitarian Universalists cancelled the General Assembly scheduled to be held there. After the state changed their position, General Assembly was once again held in that state. We believe that, even in hard economic times, Unitarian Universalists must be willing to demand that their money be guided by their principles.

We as people who affirm the worth and dignity of all people must continue to fight against racism and ethnic discrimination in all forms. A law that singles people out by race and ethnicity is by its nature racist. We condemn this law and urge people of faith throughout our country to let their voices be heard.

For The Steering Committee

DRUUMM (Diverse and Revolutionary Unitarian Universalist Multicultural Ministries)

Rev. Danielle Dibona, President

Robette Dias, Treasurer

Clyde Grubbs, Event Coordinator

Rev. Leslie Takahashi Morris, First Vice President

David Yamashita, Asian Pacific Islander Caucus Chair