Excerpt from the 2014-15 UMD Disorientation Guide – COMING SEPT 17!!!

The following is an excerpt from an article in the 2014-15 UMD Disorientation Guide on the nature of the relationship between Students and the University…

 

The Student Worker – Challenging the Concept of the Student Consumer 

In a wave of recession-era austerity measures, many states across the country dramatically reduced funding for education resulting in a disturbing increase in the privatization of our education system. Under this model, education becomes a commodity, just another thing to be bought and sold, where students are nothing more than consumers. The thing sold? Education? Universities offer students the promise of a livable future, luring young hopefuls with the institution’s credibility and bourgeois amenities before saddling students, their parents, and our country with crushing debt; a financial burden that weakens the economy and causes significant social strife.

Thinking of students as debtors makes invisible the ways students are actually workers. We are told that our education comes handed down to us by our professors, but we know better. We teach each other and ourselves, often learning as much on our own time than in lecture. Perhaps most important – through research, thesis papers, and schoolwork – students develop a body of academic knowledge that feeds the institution and raises the university’s credibility and standing.

For example, what do you call what you do at school? Work, right? It’s called “Schoolwork” or “Homework” because it IS work. Alongside professors, adjunct faculty, TA’s, and janitors, students ARE the university. Portraying students as consumers rather than the engine that powers the university legitimizes student apathy and complacency. Many of us are also workers in the traditional sense too, using our wages to pay for living expenses, tuition, and books, often to the very university that employs us.

 

Students propel human knowledge forward!!! That’s some important shit that many like to ignore.

Furthermore, education is not merely an investment in one’s own self-interest, but also a public good. After graduation, students are going to go on to add value to the whole economy and help their communities in ways they might not have been capable of before. Students are ambassadors for the future workforce and voting population. Just like the research we produce, our educated selves are sold on the labor market. Universities serve as sites of production for the skills our future employers need to continue functioning. Our educations are a commodity we make and sell, and yet only the university and their corporate partners truly profit.

 

What does it mean when students are paying exorbitant prices to produce their own education, the fabric of the institution, and the public good of education? It means we are getting ripped off. We should be getting paid! It means society is getting ripped off. Students should be paid for the work they do! While such ideals may be at home in a more enlightened future, lets at the very least demand an end to tuition hikes and the commodification of an educated society.

 

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Yeah, the radical femme on the right is pissed and they’re going to get even more pissed if we have another tuition hike. Get ready for our zine which will drop September 17th at the University of Maryland College Park, First Look Fair!!! In the meantime, check out our old disorientation guide here -> 2013-14 UMD Disorientation Guide

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Hey, Step Back with the Riot Shaming

Very important point and perspective on the St Louis protests and riot following the latest police killing of an unarmed black teen in America.

Prison Books Collective

fergusonFrom Mask Magazine

As you may have heard, a young black man named Michael Brown from Ferguson, Missouri was shot many times and killed by a police officer on August 9 of this year. A bit of a caveat before my rant: I’m angry and it comes out a bit here. Sorry not sorry.

Processing my anger in the wake of Michael Brown’s murder.

On August 11, 1965, the Watts neighborhood of Los Angeles exploded after a confrontation with police grew to a critical mass. The neighborhood SMOLDERED FOR SIX DAYS. Almost a thousand buildings were looted and burned to the ground. The unrest marked an important turn in the struggle against an overtly racist America. That was forty-nine years ago today.

Listen: police in this country attack poor people of color. IT’S HAPPENING. Like, it’s still happening. Every day. All across the country. It’s been happening. The…

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Students organizing with If Not Now, When? D.C. to call for Peace in Gaza

University of Maryland students are organizing with students and activists across the D.C. area to call for Peace in Gaza and an end to the occupation of Palestine and oppression of Palestinian people. Today, nearly 1,500 people have been killed and over 7,000 people injured in Israel’s ongoing military operation against Hamas. Most of the dead are civilians, hundreds of children have been killed, and recently, dozens of U.N. schools, hospitals, and shelters have been bombed by Israeli Defense Forces.

D.C. JCC July 30, 2014

D.C. JCC July 30, 2014

If Not Now, When? D.C. is the local branch of a national movement of the Jewish Community harkening the famous questions posed by the first century Jewish sage, Hillel. Across the country Jews are coming together to demand that the American Jewish community support an end to the war on Gaza, an end to the siege, an end to the occupation, and freedom and dignity for all in Israel and Palestine.

They are protesting the Jewish institutions that claim to represent all American Jews when they defend the profound injustice Israel inflicts on Palestinians. It ignores the growing number of voices in this community who are troubled by Israeli aggression and occupation.

Join them next Tuesday August 5, on Tisha B’Av, the traditional day of mourning, as they remember the innocents who have died and call for an end to this senseless war at the Jewish Federations of North America Washington Office. Click this link to see the FB event page -> Mourning Destruction in Israel and Palestine

 

Sister, Cis-ter: A Sibling’s Syllabus for Trans Understanding

Bluestockings Magazine

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My sister and I sat on her bed in Baton Rouge a week and a half ago having a relationship-changing conversation. No, I wasn’t coming out to her; I did that last year.

She said something that socked me in the gut, something that I as a trans activist, and hell, as a sibling had completely overlooked, “There’s a huge difference between lending your brother women’s clothes and accepting that you have a sister.”

She’s been nothing less than fantastic about changing my pronouns from he/him/brother, which she’d been saying since our mother’s ultrasound, to both they/them/sibling and she/her/sister in the course of a year, so I assumed that she knew everything she needed to know about my transition. The biggest part of my assumption was that she, mathematically, knew more about everything than I did.

She’s nine years older than I am, queer-identified, and poly, so she…

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Tell PGPD: End your sex worker stings!

Photo Credit: Cheryl Overs

Photo Credit: Cheryl Overs

PG County police are planning to live-tweet a sex worker sting in the upcoming days. Their plan is essentially intended to publicly shame and dehumanize sex workers under the guise of violence prevention (on the contrary, this tactic directly promotes violence). This voyeuristic practice has sparked a backlash that has provided an opportunity to engage with county law enforcement over policing practices of sex work. Call on PG County police to end their plan to live-tweet sex worker stings and replace such practices with dignity, respect, and increased healthcare access for sex workers!

Petition here: https://www.change.org/petitions/prince-george-s-county-police-department-end-your-plan-to-live-tweet-sex-worker-stings

STUDENT DEMONSTRATION FRIDAY April 25! – University of Maryland College Park

 

STUDENT DEMONSTRATION FRIDAY April 25! - University of Maryland College Park

Rally for a Debt Free Future  – Friday April 25th at UMD College Park Administration Bldg.

Students will be gathering tomorrow at 11:00 a.m. in front of the Administration Building (across the mall from McKeldin Library) to demand President Loh’s public support of a 3-year tuition freeze and the disclosure of the contract between Capital One Financial Corporation and the University of Maryland.

This action is being held in concert with various chapters of the Student Labor Action Project “SLAP” across the country. Some are pressuring their local Department of Education, some are confronting State officials, while others are challenging their campus administrations like we here at UMD.

University System of Maryland (USM) tuition for the coming academic year has been increased by the Maryland General Assembly by 3%. This 3% tuition hike is equivalent to an extra $275 for in-state tuition and an extra $850 for out-of-state tuition. However, these numbers hide the more insidious part; the fact that 3% annual tuition hikes have become a norm at this school, and a baseline at most public universities across the nation. Given 3% tuition hikes every year, an incoming freshman can expect to pay an EXTRA $850 in in-state tuition by their senior year! A freshman paying out-of-state tuition can expect to pay $2628 EXTRA by their senior year. In comparison, inflation in the US over the past few years has averaged at about 1.5%. It is obvious that budgets are being balanced disproportionately on the backs of students, and we cannot allow this to happen. A tuition freeze is the best short-term solution to this exploitative practice, and we want President Loh to publicly support us in our campaign.

Days of Action! University of Maryland Students Demonstrate for Workers in Bangladesh!

Students DEMAND University of Maryland Brands Sign the Bangladesh Fire and Building Safety Accord – In Coordination with USAS Day of Action 

Post-Action Picture Flyer2

On Wednesday April 23, 2014, UMD students honored the 1,129 Bangledeshi workers who died in the Rana Plaza factory collapse the day before the one-year-anniversary of the disaster on April 24, 2013.  United Students Against Sweatshops (USAS) and UMD students are joining together to pay their respects to the families and victims of the collapse and to demand companies like JanSport take action to prevent disasters like this in the future. 150 brands have signed the Accord including American Eagle, H&M, and Adidas, but VF Corporation, owner of JanSport, VF Imagewear, and other affiliates, have thus far evaded responsibility for the safety of their workers. 18 schools across the nation have already required their licensees to sign the Accord, including American University just yesterday!—it’s time for UMD to join them.

USAS organizers and Bangladesh workers met with University of Maryland Administration officials to discuss suspending JanSport licenses in a bid to pressure them to sign the Accord, however university representatives indicated they would not take action on this issue. So students groups Justice at Maryland and Community Roots teamed up to take the message directly to the UMD students and consumers to boycott JanSport products. The event turned out really well and the reception from the UMD community was fantastic. We had so many great conversations, words of support, and got connected to more students and faculty who want to become involved. On Thursday April 24 2014 – the one-year-anniversary of the Rana Plaza factory collapse – we are delivering a letter addressed to University of Maryland President Loh to ask him to suspend the license agreement with JanSport and affiliates if they do not sign the Accord and comply with UMD business ethics standards.  Also, a second demonstration is planned to coincide the the USAS National Day of Action TODAY (Thursday 4/24) at 12:30PM in STAMP Student Union.

How will signing the Accord prevent this catastrophe from happening again?

While no legislation can guarantee this could never happen again as long as sweatshops exist, the Accord requires collaboration with workers’ protection groups, rigorous inspections and public transparency, and it’s legally binding to the companies that sign it.

What can you do to help?

  • BOYCOTT JANSPORT PRODUCTS
  • sign our online petition at change.org
  • Share information about the Accord and talk to other people about it!
  • Demand that University of Maryland President Wallace Loh cut ties with VF Corporation, owner of JanSport and VF Imagewear, and its affiliates.
  • Demand that President Loh require current and future licensees at the University of Maryland to sign onto the Bangladesh Safety Accord.