Kentucky Fried Education at UC Davis

Via on Nov 22, 2011

We didn’t want you to ACTUALLY “Think Different.” What we meant was: “Kinda Different.” Like a different color iPhone case. Or something like that.

Oh man, there is so much to say. It’s like we’ve been thrown back into the Dark Ages, and we have to remember what it was like to live back then, when bodies used to hang in trees like some strange fruit. Now it’s in some alleyway of Manhattan, where people are stripped of their diginity and humanity. Got a little piece of sidewalk next to City Hall, he said. That’s it. There’s no grass there, said my neighbor. I was there, on the other side, during the pepper spray, she said. People were screaming for help. I heard it on the video of the students at CUNY tonight. My glasses. My glasses. She must have said it 20 times. My glasses.

Tonight I will dream of strange fruit, eyeglasses, and that pepper spray guy, all dancing around in paintings purchased with homeland security budgets.

Protect my homeland from these gawkers, boing boingers, and thinking differenters.

Please protect us all from those who look for the future.

Make us clean. Make us pure. For to Love God, is to hate those who do Evil.

 

Let me start with the two most important points about today.

Well first, an overview:

Students and faculty at UC Davis are royally pissed off and they are not going to take that kind of treatment ever again. Now that we’ve got that out of the way, let’s move onto some logistics.

Students and faculty at UC Davis are unified, organized and energized. There is no other way to put it. The students were completely in control of the GA and the PA today. Everything ran smoothly, respectfully, and in a highly democratic fashion. Chancellor Katehi had to wait her turn, along with everyone else, to speak. Two hours of waiting, in fact, so she got the chance to listen to everyone else. It’s the first time I have ever seen the Chancellor at one of our protests about budget cuts and fee hikes.

Look, I know what you’re saying—everybody everywhere is suffering from the budget cuts. The state and county workers have furlow days. Heck, I should know. My mother was the director of the County Archives, before they shut the whole office down and laid her off permanently. Everyone is suffering. So maybe we should just keep suffering?

Well, I am here to tell you—there is a time and a place when the people say they have had enough. I know, because I was at UC Davis today. I felt it. It was different than last week’s protest, or the last three years’ worth of protests. The taste of democracy was so completely and utterly real, I was in shock. People were voting on what they wanted, and figuring out how to go get it, like good hard-working intelligent Americans have been doing for a couple of centuries. Wikipedia: Town meetings.

Point 1:

The students at UC Davis voted today (99.1%) to call for a strike on Monday November 28, accompanied by teach-in’s, in protest of the UC Regents meeting (via teleconference) in which they will be voting to raise tuition. You’ve seen the numbers, but they bear repeating. Six years ago, tuition at University of California was $5,357. Now it’s $12,192. With the Regents vote next Monday it would be $22,068 by 2015.

Point 2:

The students at UC Davis generally pretty much want cops in riot gear off their campus and a student-led and managed campus security peace force, or some other more peaceful alternative. The vote was 60% in favor, 30% amend (meaning, that some people felt the proposal should state clearly what would be put in place instead, or had other ideas they wanted to consider), and about 5% voted No.

Who says these students can decide that anyway?

Well for one, they pay. For two, a hailstorm of media attention all weekend. And for three, 75,000 signatures on a petition asking Chancellor Katehi to resign.

I’d say the students have a lot of clout right now. And they just may be the ones we should be listening to.

~

Now, for the rest of the blog in which I go OFF:

I’m tired. So way tired.

I’m tired, like you are, of staying up every night, week after week after week, and reading the news about things like: brain damage to a veteran’s head, drop kick pepper-spraying 82-year-old ladies, and looking at photograph after photograph of police in riot gear.

People are hungry, homeless, and unemployed.

Maybe, just maybe, sometime soon, some numbskull in a position of power will decide to LISTEN, and maybe send down a food truck, instead of unleashing the hounds of hell upon them. Free coffee would be an added bonus, if you don’t mind me saying so. 1 cream, 2 sugars–as they say in The Big Apple.

I know, because I’ve been blogging about it for four years. As many of us have.

Time is coming, I would say.

Time is coming, when the system cannot handle all of this. Time is coming, when folks just might lose it. Time is coming, when we’ll be forced to pare down and live more simply. Time is coming, when focusing on the election won’t be enough. Time is coming, when there will be a political will amongst the people.

The powers that be have been BEGGING for the will of the people. They are CONSTANTLY trying to manufacture it. And as soon as they get so much as a WHIFF of it, they have no idea what to do with it—not even if you draw them a diagram that says:

HEY LOOK! OVER HERE! THOUSANDS AND THOUSANDS OF PEOPLE MARCHING IN THE STREETS WITH AN ACTUAL AGENDA.

I know, because I worked at one of those Bill Clinton rallies. You know the kind: He played saxophone and Whoopie Goldberg came out and talked about William Jefferson Clinton, as if we were about to elect Jefferson himself. I was elated. I was thrilled. I was mesmerized. I even saved my Press Pass for posterity.

It was so great and hopeful, and yes, Clinton did get us out of a hell of a mess, and he is a fine man for that. HOWEVER—THAT was NOTHING compared to THIS. NOTHING.

How can I be so bold?

Because the will of the people is something you can never ever manufacture, no matter how much money you throw at it, or how many emails you send me.

You can never fake thousands of people across the land banding together and agreeing (via consensus) to change the status quo.

I THOUGHT THAT IS WHAT YOU WANTED US TO DO.

CHANGE. CHANGE. CHANGE.

Yes We Did.

We all bought a stack of 25 bumper stickers, and now… we want our donation back!!

I happen to teach American History part-time, because I only make about $1,600 per month as a graduate student, teaching your children how to be functional and educated in the current social system we have going right now. It took me 39 years to gather enough information, so that I feel confident enough that what I am telling them will not cause them irreparable damage, and perhaps maybe even instill some hope for the future. I am only telling you this, so that you understand how and why I became fascinated with photographs of The Great Depression—tents, torn clothes, hungry-looking eyes, signs for free coffee, and the signs of community when people started to help.

I thought of the pictures when the camps came to Wall Street, and the first thing that came to me was: I am staying away from this movement. I have work to do, a family to raise, and a garden to tend. I need time for sleep, and figuring out how to juggle my jobs to get through school.

But of course I knew they were right, as most of us do. We just didn’t know what to do with them. Hey look, there’s all these people in the street talking about all the very things we know are wrong. It got dragged through the media circus for a couple of months and started to become a nuisance, as these things do.

This monumental week will never happen again. It began, if you can remember in this age of media that washes away quicker than pepper spray, with the complete and utter destruction of Occupy Wall Street last Monday night. I know, because I sat on my couch next to my wood stove, in my little town in the hills, with my laptop, watching the Live Stream.

I was watching the Live Stream. Because the Regular Media were prohibited. Not that I have a TV anyway.

Ooooh, and the non-outrage is killing us all!

I was losing sleep, because it happened In the Middle of the Night. Oooh, so stealthy!

Let’s review the facts about last Monday night, because as a 5th year PhD Candidate at the Bicycle—Oops, I mean—Pepper Spray Capitol of the United States, one would expect me to rely on the facts rather than hearsay, conjecture, or a trumped up meme.

Dumptrucks and bulldozers came to Occupy Wall Street and hauled away EVERYTHING. People were arrested. The media was barred. No media. Please don’t take photographs while the media tycoons and thugs are doing their dirty work.

This is America. We were outraged and silenced beyond disbelief.

Leave it to our leaders to shut down the Only Good Thing We Have Going For Our God-Forsaken Country At the Moment.

5,000 books thrown in the garbage.

FIVE THOUSAND.

5,000 books, not to mention the terror caused to those ladies huddled in “the kitchen.”

I wonder what Steve Jobs would have said. (cue: choir of angels, and lots of advertisements that tell us to THINK DIFFERENT.) Oops, we didn’t mean DIFFERENT, like ACTUALLY different. We meant… you know… like a different color for your protective iPhone case.

Can you imagine what the uproar would have been if they threw away 5,000 iPads or Kindles?! Holy moly, now THAT would have been BAD, right?

This is really starting to look incredibly all upside-downsies, now, isn’t it?

In fact, it’s starting to look like a Dr. Seuss book from Hell, where the guys in black with big giant sticks and LOADS of anti-terror equipment are Here, There, and EveryMotherFuckingWhere.

This is not America. This is not my America, your America, any immigrant’s America, or any future American’s America. This is terror. This is the War on Terror within the Homeland, turned upon the American people.

And today at UC Davis, I discovered – the people have had it. Maybe not the legions of voters who will oust Obama and elect the next best Tea Party candidate who hasn’t had a sex scandal, a teenager who is pregnant, or a husband who hates gay people.

But a group of about 2,000 students in a sleepy, little sustainable hippie town in Northern California? I will tell you right now: They have Had It. Up to Here. If you want someone to win your election, go to Davis. Because if you shut these kids down, you are asking for trouble.

Do you realize how many Baby Boomers in this country have uttered the word Kent State over the past three days? More than did over the past 30 years. I will put cold hard cash on that one. I know, because it’s what every Boomer said to me when we talked about it.

This monumental week will never happen again.

And–this monumental day will never happen again. There will never again be a first, triumphant day in which the UC Davis students en masse stand up with their fellow students, along with all other California students, and take back their education for the future of all California students.

There’s this thing that bugs me, you know. It’s this idea that there’s all these “rogue” people out there—agitators, troublemakers, drum circle captains—whatever you want to call them. This business about outside agitators is a worse excuse than Donald Trump’s hairpiece.

Today, the students at UC Davis made it clear that theirs is a student movement that started way before Occupy, if not a generation ago, and one that will continue into the future. Students and faculty have had it. They are educated, vehement, and more connected than ever.

UC students have been talking about the privatization of public higher education for the past three years. UC students walked out two years ago on the first day of school, a fact that many in the mainstream media have forgotten. I know, because I was there.

UC students SHUT DOWN a FREEWAY in the Bay Area. I know, because my friends were there.

In 2010, students across the country engaged in “march forth” against budget cuts and fee hikes. I know, because I was there. UC Davis students tried to get to Highway 80, but they were stopped by 120 police that came from jurisdictions as far away as Contra Costa County, wielding batons and pepper balls.

When the Occupy movement came along, student activists said, “Bring it on.” It wasn’t a cavaliere thing. Unlike the 1%, we can’t afford that kind of attitude.

What we do is real. Real for us. Real for the people. And Real for the future.

What most people do not understand is that places like Davis, Portland, Seattle, Santa Fe, Madison, Marin, Burlington, and so many others have been slowly chipping away at the mainstream logic of consumer waste, gorging on an excess of resources, and wreckless gouging of the environment, planting the roots of Our Sustainable Future for the past forty years.

At this point, the only option is for the mainstream to join them, because they’ll be damned before they join the landslide on the other side. If you want to find the future, these are the places you should be looking.

And with that, I’m off to today’s General Assembly.

Democracy never tasted so sweet.

About Amy Champ

Amy Champ is currently finishing her PhD program in Performance Studies, with a designated emphasis in Feminist Theory and Research at University of California, Davis. She is writing her dissertation about women and yoga in America. She has been a teaching assistant in the Religious Studies department at UCD for three years. She has a MA in Government, and a BA in Anthropology and Literary Studies.

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4 Responses to “Kentucky Fried Education at UC Davis”

  1. Vision_Quest2 says:

    The Kampus Kops (and their police chief) who pepper-sprayed non-violent passive resisting students at UC Davis will be getting their just punishment.

  2. Paul Bracey says:

    Thanks Amy. This is the kind of article that makes elephant relevant.

  3. Karen says:

    Thank you Amy. This is so clear, concise and intelligent; so well written. I very much appreciate your time and effort in this.

  4. Paul says:

    Brilliant – thank you! This is indeed our Kent State moment.

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