The CUNY administration responded to the surge in militant student activity by underhandedly raiding and shutting down the Guillermo Morales/Assata Shakur Community Center at City College on the evening of Saturday, October 19th. On the next day, students arrived on campus to find the entire campus on lockdown, former student activist and US Army Veteran David Suker arrested, and no place to study for midterms. People also witnessed the dismantling of the Center into the unannounced “Careers and Professional Development Institute.” A protest was immediately called to take place on Monday, when hundreds of students demanded the return of the Center. Building on the momentum of that protest, another one was called for on Thursday, the 24th, in front of administration building, where two protesters were arrested.
This was not the first time that the CUNY administration attacked Morales/Shakur Community Center and students and community members who use the Center, nor will it be the last. The Center—won through the 1989 struggle—is a home to many progressives and revolutionaries throughout CUNY and our communities; it runs important community services such as a farm share, a book exchange, events against the wars in the Middle East, know your rights trainings, and anti-gender violence workshops, to name a few. All these services were made possible by the occupation in 1989.
In the recent months, students, workers, and community members have been using the Center to organize against the hiring of ex-General and ex-CIA director David Petraeus and the reemergence of the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps at CUNY, all of which gained international attention. It is no coincidence that this attack on the Center occurred in the midst of all these struggles. It is also not a coincidence that it occurred simultaneously with CUNY administration implementing a new ‘Expressive Activities Policy’ that would defang protests and flyering, making them “proper” for bourgeois standards.
All this is part of an overall trend towards the militarization of CUNY. As the new tide of student activism continues to flourish and grow, the CUNY administration will react and seize whatever means they can to stop it. This includes spying, as they have done against Muslim student organizations, physically beating students as in the November 21, 2011 protests, the May 2, 2012 protests, and, of course, the September 17th protests against Petraeus. The repression at City College and all throughout our campuses is a microcosm of what happens in our communities, where police watchtowers and stop-and-frisk are a common occurence. Such is the situation in Harlem, both on and off the campus.
Why respond in this way towards students? The CUNY administration responds in this way because they recognize the revolutionary potential of proletarian students, whose class interests are diametrically opposed to those of the administration. The people who run CUNY are the same people who run the police and the military. They are part of the same class—the ruling class—that does not serve us. On the other hand, we have Morales and Shakur, both CCNY alumni, who served the people. They were part of the 1969 student strike that opened CUNY to proletarian black and brown communities.
We—just like Morales and Shakur—want to liberate our communities from the chokehold of imperialism while they want to expand and enforce that parasitic system worldwide. We want our communities to know and change our history; we want women and queer people to understand and smash patriarchy and heterosexist society; we want poor working people to understand and end their exploitation; we want students to see through and struggle against bourgeois academic discourses and to create their own proletarian counterparts.
The administration wants us to be ignorant of our history and teach us imperialist lies and contained versions of our past political movements; they want women and trans peple to live under patriarchal domination where we are raped, abused, commodified and super-exploited; they want queer people to conform to heterosexist standards of society; they want students to go into occupations that reinforce the system and remain unaware of the role of education in the reproduction of the relations of exploitation.
In New York City, CUNY’s specific role is to produce the lower – to mid-level managerial class. Some examples of careers that fall into this category include teachers, police, nurses, junior accountants, and non-governmental organization (NGO) directors. When CUNY is not producing those kinds of people but militant revolutionaries, they have a problem on their hands—one that they swiftly aim to put out.
This is why—in the last few years—proletarian black and brown student enrollment has dropped drastically. They want to ensure that “dangerous” people like us don’t get “out of line” and break from their system, hence they push out and deny access to people in our communities. They want to integrate us into the very system that is killing our people both here and abroad. While they view our protests and actions as “chaotic” and “disorderly,” we view our initiatives as the new beginnings of a future where our class enemy is overthrown. Ultimately, the CUNY administration stands in our way of making history and progress.
We call on all students and community members to take a firm stand against the seizure of the Morales/Shakur Community Center and the repression against those who defend it!
Dare to struggle, dare to win!
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