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Archive for the ‘Open Admissions’ Category

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SLAM! members Liam Flynn-Jambeck and Luz Schreiber were snapped by a NY Times photographer for the 11/23/99 article, “Plan to Exclude Remedial Students Approved at CUNY,” by Karen Arenson. Pushed and prodded by Gov. Pataki and Mayor Giuliani, and inspired by the powerful right-wing think tank Manhattan Institute, the CUNY Board of Trustees had already voted twice to end Open Admissions. The trustees’ May 26, 1998 vote was stopped in its tracks by a student/faculty lawsuit charging that they had broken the open meetings law by throwing out ALL members of the public, not just those of us (ahem!) who were disruptive. A January 1999 vote, while students were on winter break, was deemed legit, despite being practically drowned out by hundreds of chanting students opposed to the plan.

The New York State Regents were CUNY’s last hope to keep remediation at its 4-year colleges for students accepted to its BA programs. At the time, 81% of public 4-year colleges in the U.S. offered remedial classes, according to Arenson’s article.

All four of the regents identified as Black or Hispanic voted nay. Check out this quote from the article:

Ena L. Farley, who also voted against the measure, called it a ”grave injustice to turn away people with the determination to succeed” and called education the ”most contested opportunity in the United States.” She said CUNY’s policy would force people to ”beg and cringe and crawl” in seeking a college education.

So why did the plan get the Regents’ nod with the bare minimum of votes? Arenson followed up with a very interesting article 2 days after the meeting: “Opponents of a Change in CUNY Admissions Policy Helped Pass a Compromise Plan.”

The policy squeaked through the Regents with exactly the nine votes needed for passage and several Regents who voted yes said they would not have approved the policy without knowing that Friends of CUNY had exacted some conditions and now supported its passage.

The Friends of CUNY had won some concessions, including a delay at 2 campuses, follow-up research, and the right for some students to petition to take classes they’d be blocked from attending. But with “Friends” like these, CUNY’s enemies easily ended Open Admissions shortly thereafter. Another paragraph from the second article offers insight into who these powerful liberals were:

The informal group that played a backstage role in brokering a compromise deal included Edward C. Sullivan, chairman of the State Assembly’s higher education committee, Bernard Sohmer, chairman of the CUNY faculty senate, Irwin Polishook, the head of the CUNY faculty union, James P. Murphy, a former CUNY chairman, Julius C. C. Edelstein, a former CUNY vice chancellor, and Roscoe Brown, former president of Bronx Community College. The Friends of CUNY group to which most of them belong has for more than a year questioned the motives and policies of CUNY’s trustees.

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R2K+10 honors the 10th anniversary of the direct action mobilization against the Republican National Convention in Philadelphia in the year 2000.

Please enjoy these audio interviews with 6 former SLAM members who participated in R2K! Here is a short segment with wisdom from everyone:

Kai, Nermeen, Sandra, Anna, Mariano, and Kazembe talk about R2K

Below are the bios of each person and a list of audio segments with descriptions. All interviews were conducted and edited by Suzy Subways.

Kazembe is a writer and cultural organizer from the Bronx, NY, who works at the Brecht Forum. Click on the links below to listen to these audio segments:

SLAM’s direct action experience on access to CUNY, police brutality, and political prisoners

Kazembe on R2K’s historical moment

Kazembe on the raid of the Puppet Warehouse

Kazembe’s arrest and jail experience

Kazembe on the lessons of R2K

Complete interview with Kazembe

Nermeen was a SLAM member for 5 years. She is a mother and works with senior community members in Queens. Click on the links below to listen to these audio segments:

Nermeen on how the puppets worked with the lockdowns

Nermeen on supporting comrades in jail

Nermeen on flying squads vs. civil disobedience

Nermeen on the tactical successes of R2K

Nermeen on how mentoring worked in SLAM

Complete interview with Nermeen

Kai works with Critical Resistance and has been doing organizing around the prison industrial complex (PIC), which is inclusive of police violence, prisons, jails, courts, surveillance, and political prisoners, since 1978. She also merges visual art and organizing in an effort to reach the imagination and to help spark liberation, whether that’s imagining PIC abolition or being in the year 2078 with multiple genitalia. Click on the links below to listen to these audio segments: (more…)

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photo by Jed

photo by Jed

On June 5th in Philadelphia, Slamistas Kazembe Balagun, Lenina Nadal, Jed Brandt, John Kim, and Sasa Ynoa spoke about SLAM’s innovative approach to organizing and why we were fighting for free university education. This was a combined event called “How do we build radical movements?” with Dan Berger, who (along with Chris Dixon) interviewed people in four revolutionary study groups – Another Politics is Possible (NY), the Activist Study Circles (SF), the LA Crew, and the New York Study Group – talking about leadership, organization, and politics. Their article and an interview by Suzy Subways with 5 women of color from SLAM appeared in the radical journal Upping the Anti, issue #8.

Click on the following links to hear the audio:

Dan Berger

Kazembe Balagun

Q&A with Kazembe, Lenina, Jed, John Kim and Suzy

Q&A continued, with Sasa too

Q&A continued

Due to battery-related challenges, the audio recorder ran out before
the end of the event. Video will be coming soon!

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A Culture of Resistance

Lessons Learned from the Student Liberation Action Movement (SLAM)

By Suzy Subways

This interview with 5 women of color from SLAM appeared in the radical journal Upping the Anti, issue #8.

In March 1995, 20,000 students from City University of New York (CUNY) were attacked by police after surrounding city hall to protest a draconian tuition increase. This protest, organized by the CUNY Coalition Against the Cuts, marked an upsurge in student movement activity that continued into 1996, when the group transformed into the Student Liberation Action Movement (SLAM), a multiracial radical organization. Before disbanding in 2004, SLAM established chapters at CUNY colleges in all five boroughs of the city. This roundtable focuses on the chapter at Hunter College in Manhattan and explores SLAM’s legacy of building a left culture in New York City and across the country. (more…)

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Click here to download the paper.

The Struggle for CUNY: A History Of The CUNY Student Movement, 1969 – 1999

By Christopher Gunderson

Contents

1 Introduction

5 A Brief History Of Cuny

7 Cuny Student Activism Before 1969

9 The Global Context

12 The Open Admissions Strike

22 The Effects Of Open Admissions

24 Struggles In The 70S

30 The New York City “Fiscal Crisis”

38 The Fight For Hostos

42 Tuition Imposed

45 Cuny Student Activism In The 1980S

46 The 1989 Student Strike

52 The 1991 Student Strike

58 After The Strikes

60 The 1995 Struggle

66 Student Government

66 The Attack On Remediation

67 Conclusions

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SLAM protest 1998

SLAM protest 1998

In this 1998 photo, you can see SLAM’s famous demonic Giuliani head puppet. We frequently got phone calls from groups all over the city to borrow it for protests. You can also see SLAM founding member Sandra Barros at right, in the maroon jacket with yellow armbands. Is Jed the person she’s talking to? Is that Ramiro in the front middle?

Below is the caption written in 1998, before the Open Admissions struggle was lost. It was copied from SLAM’s original website at http://www.geocities.com/slamcuny/ All geocities websites will be taken down at the end of October 2009, so we are transferring the content here as it was originally presented:

Protest on March 23, 1998 at CUNY Board of Trustees meeting. We demanded that they not vote to end remediation and open admissions– they tried to vote and lost! There were about 200 students at the protest.

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Defend Open Admissions and Remedial Education at CUNY!

Click here to see the 10 DEMANDS of the CUNY Coalition for Open Admissions. SLAM is one of the groups in the coalition…Join SLAM to get involved. CCNY SLAM!, 138th Street & Convent Ave, Harlem, NY 10031


Now Available:

8-page newspaper broadsheet

“The Struggle at CUNY: Open Admissions & Civil Rights”

Mayor Giuliani & some on the Board of Trustees are calling for an end to CUNY’s policy of Open Admissions — which allows all NYC high school graduates a chance at college. CCNY SLAM has put out this timely and excellent newspaper that details the struggle around open admissions, the community colleges, workfare on campus, and the student movement at CUNY. This pamphlet argues that the attacks on CUNY are part of the larger attack on communities of color and on economic democracy. It also includes a cool 2-color poster you can put up all over campus!

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