The General Assembly of students, teachers, and community members who are occupying Wheeler Hall as an “Open University” have called for a walkout and a day of mass action, starting at Sather Gate. This is in response to the most recent Regents vote on raising tuition by 27%, part of a much longer pattern of tuition hikes and privatization of the UC system.
On Thursday December 4, 2014 (the week after Thanksgiving) our Local will vote on a resolution concerning participation in the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement. The polling times and places are:
10am to 6pm at Sather Gate
10:30am to 1:30pm at Evans Hall, Outside East Entrance
2pm to 5pm at Tolman Hall, Outside Near Breezeway
The resolution ballot will consist of two parts. The first part is a vote on whether our Local should join the BDS movement. The second is an option to make an anonymous, individual commitment to participate in the academic boycott. For the full text of the ballot, as well as statements for and against the resolution, please see our website:
All Local members and member organizations are welcome to submit statements regarding this vote. Statements received by 12/1/14 will be publicly posted at tinyurl.com/BDSCommentary. Please send statements to firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you have questions about the logistics of the vote, please get in touch with the Election Committee representative on your campus or email email@example.com.
Join us for a happy hour on Monday September 1st—Labor Day—at Jupiter Beer and Pizza (2181 Shattuck Ave., Berkeley, one block from campus)! This happy hour is intended to welcome back graduate students who have been gone for the summer, as well as incoming graduate students, who can drink a nice cold one while they learn about the our union.
September Membership Meeting, Tuesday, September 2nd 5:30pm to 7pm at the Union Office, 2070 Allston Way (Suite 205)
Our first membership meeting of the semester! Come find out about the awesome new contract that we just won, and discuss our organizing plans for the year. New members welcome! The union office is just a couple blocks from campus.
Please click to sign this petition and support the residents of UC Berkeley’s Student Family Housing located at UC Village as they object to an unjust 3% rent increase planned to begin in July. Tell Residential and Student Services Programs (RSSP) that it is morally reprehensible to balance their budget on the backs of this vulnerable low income population.
Under the planned 3% increases, rents would range from $1,337 to $2,059. This is not sustainable for student families who are predominantly low income. Last year, a survey conducted by the Village Resident’s Association (VRA) found that 70% of families survive on less than a living wage, with 45% reliant on food assistance.
After the grade-in on Thursday, a number of graduate students staged a sleepover at Stephens Lounge to protest the closure of the space. For more information read the article in the Berkeley Graduate, or the press release below:
Graduate Students Hold Sleepover in Contested Stephens Workspace
Students protesting the closure of beloved workspace stage a sleepover calling on the UC to uphold quality study and workspace on campus
On Thursday, May 15th more than 20 students gathered in Stephens Hall’s Graduate Student Lounge and stayed through the night in solidarity with the threatened campus work space. The “sleepover” culminated weeks of actions to halt the permanent closure after UC Dean Andrew Szeri announced that the 90-year old room would on May 16th close its doors forever as a study space. The sleepover celebrated the campus administration’s concession to postpone the closure of Stephens Lounge by another 6 months, but also advanced student demands that the administration keep the space open until a substitute is found.
Students spent the night grading exams, writing papers, reading and discussing ongoing struggles by students and other campus and community groups. The sleepover followed a day-long “grade-in” sponsored by the student-worker’s union (UAW Local 2865) that included coalition building between Stephens defenders, student-workers, other UC labor unions, organizers with Gill Tract Farm preservation, and University Village residents fighting for fair family housing.
Some students brought sleeping bags and air mattresses to rest in the beloved space, while others worked into the early morning together. Students made clear that the stakes of the action were more than room’s unique features—high ceilings, Victorian charm, and access coffee and food. The student-run space is an important workplace resource for graduate students on an overcrowded campus with highly unequal access to space across departments.
“Graduate students work long hours just like anyone else. They need a place that provides basics of any workplace, like the ability to eat.” said Sarah Cowan, a graduate student in the History of Art Department. “The Stephens Lounge is the only place on campus that does.”
In proposing to close the Lounge unilaterally and without transparency, the UC administration claimed the space was underutilized, and also cited its inaccessibility to students with disabilities. Defenders of the space confirmed that dozens of graduate student visitors each day, and that more than 640 UC students, faculty, staff and alumni had signed a petition demanding it not be closed. Those demands have been endorsed by the UAW and UC Berkeley’s graduate student government. Moreover, sleepover attendees agreed that if UC is committed to inclusive education, it is the administration’s obligation to make the space accessible to all graduate students or to find an adequate alternative that is.
“I value the space for so many reasons, like getting to work alongside colleagues in other departments,” says Margaret Mary Downey, a graduate student in the School of Social Welfare. I think it sets a dangerous precedent for the administration to act without student input on issues like this that directly impact our working and learning conditions.”
The threat to the Stephens Lounge represents a trend at UC Berkeley and other public institutions to restrict and privatize access to cherished, well-used spaces. Students trying to save Stephens Lounge planned to organize in the coming months in conjunction with the UAW’s struggle to gain respect for student labor, the work of Students for Engaged and Active Learning (SEAL) to protect the Gill Tract public farm land from privatization at the expense of the health and wellness of student families and their children, and the University Village families fighting for fair housing rights and affordability.
This Thursday (May 15th), work alongside other GSIs, take a selfie with your mountain of ungraded papers, and help us win a contract with higher wages and class size protections!
Bring all of your grading to the graduate student workspace at Stephens Lounge at 440 Stephens Hall during open hours (9am to 7pm). We’ll photograph graduate students laboring behind their mountains of papers, and post the images online to draw attention to the important work we do as GSIs.
If you’re not able to make it to Stephens, take a photo of yourself wherever you’re working and post it on the Grade-In event on the Berkeley Union facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/events/1402968566654187/.
In addition, from 12 noon to 1pm, we invite you to participate in a Lunch Break Conversation on the grass outside of Stephens. The union, the group organizing group to keep Stephens Lounge open, and other groups on campus working for an accessible and supportive university will share our ongoing struggles.
See you at the grade-in! Thirty cent cookies for all!