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Archive for the ‘pre-SLAM radical CUNY organizing’ Category

Student Activists Under Attack at City College of New York for Honoring Black and Puerto Rican Liberation Heroes

Door to The Morales / Shakur Community and Student Center

by Brad Sigal | Fight Back News Service

December 18, 2006

New York, NY – The New York Police Department is on the defensive because of mass outrage over the police’s murder of Sean Bell. Bell, a 23-year old unarmed African American man was killed by the NYPD in a hail of 50 bullets Nov. 25 a few hours before he was going to be married. His murder has sparked large protests against racist police brutality.

Two weeks later, the right-wing New York Daily News tried to create a diversion from the issue of racist police brutality by attacking student activists at the City College of New York (CCNY), accusing them of promoting “cop killers” and “terrorists.” On Dec.12 the Daily News ran a cover story and editorial attacking CCNY’s Guillermo Morales/Assata Shakur Community and Student Center, a student-run activist space on the flagship Harlem campus of the City University of New York (CUNY). The Daily News editorial demanded that Shakur and Morales’s names be removed from the Center. (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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Some Thoughts on the History of CUNY SLAM

http://leftspot.com/blog/?q=cunyarticle

In Spring 2006, two important commemorations will occur to celebrate the history of militant student and community struggle at the City University of New York (CUNY), one of the largest and most important public university systems in the U.S., made up of 17 separate campuses and over 200,000 students spread throughout New York City’s five boroughs.

On March 25 there will be a 30-year anniversary celebration of building takeovers by South Bronx community members and Hostos students to save Hostos Community College in 1976. Hostos is a CUNY campus with a largely Latino and immigrant student body located in the South Bronx.

On April 1 there will be an event commemorating the 10-year anniversary of the founding of the Student Liberation Action Movement (SLAM!) in 1996. SLAM! is a multinational radical student organization. It grew out of a mass movement to stop tuition increases and cuts to Tuition Assistance Program (TAP) at CUNY in 1995. That movement included sit-ins that led to mass arrests at City College and Hunter College, and culminated in a (non-permitted) massive march of 20,000 students on City Hall not long after Rudolph Giuliani was elected Mayor of New York. SLAM! continues as an active radical CUNY student organization.

The Struggle Over Who CUNY Serves

CUNY is not like most university systems in the U.S. CUNY was founded in 1847 as the “Free Academy” to educate the working class and had free tuition from 1847 until 1976. The large majority of students are from working class and poor families, and the majority of students are oppressed nationalities. (more…)

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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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Lenina Nadal, December 27, 2008

Lenina Nadal was a founding member of the CUNY Coalition Against the Cuts and SLAM. Having graduated in 1997, she returned in 2000 to help create SLAM’s organizer training institute. She is a filmmaker, playwright, and poet, and works for the Northwest Bronx Community and Clergy Coalition. Visit http://www.performingprofound.com

interviewed by Suzy Subways

Suzy: I was thinking about how SLAM started at Hunter and how the different clubs kind of created SLAM together, right? What’s the story of that? There was the Palestinian Club, the Black Student Union and, from the beginning, how did they come together and work in the CUNY Coalition and start SLAM?

Lenina: To be honest, I remember a couple of individuals, Chris Day being one of them, who did what Chris Day does, which is put something provocative on a flier and start stapling it around the entire campus. It was only a couple of individuals that said, “there’s something going on here.” At the time, I was working with the New York Public Interest Research Group (NYPIRG), so we had our own campaign where we had began to tell students that tuition was going to be raised $1,000. So there was already publicity around campus saying that this is what’s going to happen. And then students started talking about this in classes. So even really before any particular clubs got involved, there was a lot of anxiety among the masses of students on campus, because $1,000 just seemed like a tremendous amount of money. However, I would say that there was one group, which was the Black Student Union, where you had members like Takala, a poet and activist, and Asha Bandele. So Asha Bandele and Takala at the time were in the leadership of the BSU, along with Kim Wade and a few other activists. And they were responsible for some of the major takeovers of the Hunter campus and other CUNY campuses in like 1990, 91. By the time 1995 rolled around, they were still in leadership, and while they didn’t play the central role anymore, they were continuing to raise consciousness among Black students on campus on these issues, and continuing to help the movement grow in their own way. And the other clubs that had a sort of political consciousness included the Palestinian Club and the Arab Club, which were very strongly affiliated, and right across the hall was the Puerto Rican Club, and that had some progressive membership that was kind of in and out. And I’d say those were the three that kind of solidified a people of color Left in terms of organizations on campus that were doing work.

But I would say that when it began, it was really a few students that said, “We’re going to do something about this. This is crazy.” And the only alternative that we were being offered was from NYPIRG, which was like, “Let’s go to our congresspeople, let’s go to our senators, let’s lobby, let’s see if we can change it from within.” But the frustration was already building up. And a lot of it was because working class students were feeling like their financial aid was going to be cut, their tuition was going to be increased, and this might be the last chance they had at a CUNY education. So the stakes were very. very high for all students. It was really a mass movement. It’s like most movements – the leadership can claim it, but they have to claim it after the masses have already said, “This is what we want.” Those of us who had been part of organizations or who grew up with leftist parents, we started to get to know each other and kind of see that we had something to offer to sustain a movement. In that sense, that’s how some of that leadership started to come together.

(more…)

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To listen to these sound files, recorded Oct. 17, 2008, in Harlem at the CUNY Social Forum, click on the links below:

Maria Arettines (moderator), a CUNY Social Forum organizer and Hunter College student: “What are our desires?” (5 minutes, 23 seconds)

Hank Williams, veteran of the Student Liberation Action Movement (SLAM!) and organizer with the Africana Studies Group at the CUNY Graduate Center: The CUNY movement, women of color feminism, and our vision of the university in the aftermath of losing Open Admissions (12 minutes, 31 seconds)

Vanessa James, Parents in Action for Leadership and Human Rights: Fighting Children’s Services for the human right to keep our children from being taken away (10 minutes, 58 seconds)

Mark Torres, former City College student activist, member of the Hostos Educators’ Association: Building organizational power – “Educate, agitate, organize!” (11 minutes, 33 seconds)

Dr. Leonard Jeffries, department of political science, City College; former chair of Black Studies Department: From shattered consciousness and fractured identities to a blueprint for people’s power (21 minutes, 36 seconds)

Luz Schreiber, co-founder of Hunter Parent Union, former member of SLAM and founding member of Ollin Imagination: Dreaming revolution, imagining collective solutions (9 minutes, 40 seconds)

Q&A – Movement elders and students speak and ask questions (41 minutes, 18 seconds)

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