Archive for September, 2009

The Politics of Race and Class at CUNY – by Chris Day, 1997

By Christopher Day
Love & Rage Revolutionary Anarchist Newspaper
June/July 1997, Volume 8 Number 3

On Thursday, March 27 about 600 students gathered in City Hall Park to protest proposed budget cuts to the City University of New York (CUNY). Students came from at least a dozen schools. This demonstration was not going to turn into a battle with the cops like the 1995 demonstration of 25,000 students. But nonetheless, it demonstrated the existence of several hundred radical students at CUNY who will turn out for a rally even when the movement is at a low point. Reflecting the composition of CUNY better than previous demonstrations, Black and Latino students were a solid majority of the crowd and the speakers. After the rally much of the crowd marched to the nearest train station and took the subway to Harlem where they joined students at City College in their campus-based “Day of Outrage” against the budget cuts.

The fight against the budget cuts at CUNY has involved complex questions of race and class. The Student Liberation Action Movement (SLAM!), which organized the demonstration, is a broad-based, open and democratic organization rooted primarily at CUNY and dedicated to fighting the cuts. March 27 was the product of SLAM!’s efforts to develop a principled politics around these problems. Its efforts to navigate the difficult questions of class and race offer valuable lessons for activists facing similar questions elsewhere. (more…)

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The Struggle at CUNY: Open

Admissions and Civil Rights – by Ron

McGuire, 1992

From LeftSpot.com at http://leftspot.com/blog/?q=cunystruggle

The following article provides an excellent background and framework from which to understand the importance of the struggle at the City University of New York. It squarely puts the struggle at CUNY in the framework of a struggle against racism and national oppression. Though it was written in 1992 and therefore some of the data is outdated, it is still an accurate analysis of the struggle at CUNY. This article was printed as a mass newspaper by the CUNY Student Liberation Action Movement (SLAM!) in 1997. It is reprinted here from an old SLAM website. –LS

The Struggle at CUNY: Open Admissions and Civil Rights

By Ronald B. McGuire, 1992

The movement of the students of the City University of New York (“CUNY”) and their communities against the proposed budget cuts which would result in tuition increases, financial aid cuts and program cutbacks, is a civil rights struggle, not an argument over economics or fiscal policy. CUNY contains the largest number of Black and Latino scholars ever to attend a single university in the history of the United States. The importance of CUNY as a source of opportunity for non-white students and their communities is highlighted by the fact that CUNY traditionally awards the largest number of Master’s degrees to Black and Latino students of any institution in America. Last year CUNY conferred 1,011 Master’s degrees to Black and Latino students while the State University of New York (“SUNY”) awarded only 233. The integration of CUNY has been the most significant civil rights victory in higher education in the history of the United States.

CUNY’s unique policy of open admissions transformed the university from a virtually all-white enclave in the mid-1960’s, to an institution with over 200,000 students, the majority of whom are now Black and Latino. CUNY’s predecessor, the Free Academy, was founded in 1847 for the purpose of providing opportunity for higher education to the poor and disadvantaged of New York City. Ironically, despite the fact that successive generations of immigrants had availed themselves of the opportunity provided by CUNY, it was not until 1969 that the University undertook a commitment to open its doors to students from the Black and Latino communities who had until then been virtually excluded from the CUNY schools.1 In Spring 1969 a strike led by Black and Latino students at City College engendered tremendous community support in favor of the students’ main demand that the ethnic composition of CCNY reflect the ethnic composition of New York City’s high schools. (more…)

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Hostos Students Under Attack in NYC

By Brad, Love & Rage Revolutionary Anarchist Newspaper, August/Sept. 1997

On May 27, five days before graduation, the Board of Trustees of the
City University of New York (CUNY) passed a resolution prohibiting
students at Hostos Community College from graduating unless they passed
a university-wide English proficiency test (the CUNY Writing Assessment
Test-CWAT).  A year earlier, Hostos stopped requiring the test as the
sole criterion of English proficiency.  Instead, they developed their
own writing test, and used that in combination with a number of other
criteria to determine whether students had learned enough English to
graduate.  The students who were scheduled to graduate on June 1 had
completed all the requirements that they were told they needed in order
to graduate.  The Trustees’ decision singles out for attack the largely
Latino student body at Hostos, and CUNY students who speak English as a
second language in general.  It is only the latest episode of a
longer-term effort to drive large numbers of students of color out of
CUNY. (more…)

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The following paper was written by Eric O’Dell for distribution at the student conference in Chicago on the first weekend of November, 1997.  It is written by him as an individual, and represents his views, not necessarily the views of SLAM! or of any other organization.  We are publishing it here in an effort to contribute to the rebuilding of a powerful national student movement.  Rebuild!

Building a New National Progressive Student Activist Organization

A Proposal Submitted for the Consideration of the U.S. Student Movement

By Eric O’Dell, November 1997


The student movement has long been a vital part of the people’s movements—both as an ally of other sections of the people and in the struggle against students’ own particular forms of oppression. A fair number of attempts at building and sustaining national-level, multi-issue student activist organizations have been made over the years. This paper proposes that the time may be ripe for another effort, particularly if we learn well our lessons of the past. It also suggests how we might now proceed to make such an effort.


Why build organization?

This may be an obvious question to many, but it’s worth reviewing.

Progressive social change is made by sections of the masses of people acting within movements to create qualitative social change through struggle-oriented activism. The mainstream media often mystify such movements, portraying them as spontaneous and arising out of nowhere. There’s a kernel of truth to this idea, but we know that there’s more to it. Movements are made by thousands of people acting to build and sustain organizations which carry out the often invisible day-to-day work. (more…)

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For all you internet geeks out there, our old geocities site is getting taken down oct. 26, 2009, so we’re copying all the stuff over here. This is the “what’s new” page from the last time it was updated, in 1998. After that, we mostly used the Hunter SLAM student government site as SLAM’s website.

What’s New on the SLAM! Webpage

March 25, 1998
Home Page: Redone design with a new picture!
Current Activities: Updated, with links to media coverage of our demonstrations so far this semester.

March 9, 1998
Current Activities: Updated to include citywide demonstrations agreed to at March 8th meeting. Check it out! (more…)

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Some Useful Student Activism Links

CUNY Info & Links


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