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Archive for October, 2009

To All Supporters of Students for a Democratic Society at the U of MN

Because of our action at Convocation ’09 we are now facing sanctions against our SDS chapter. The sanctions that we are currently appealing would ensure that we would have NO rights as a student group – we could no longer reserve rooms on our campus, we couldn’t be part of the handful of functions open to student groups, and we can’t apply for any grants.

We ask for all of our supporters and all supporters of free speech on our campuses to call and tell the University of Minnesota that SDS should not face sanctions for our actions at Convocation. The Student Union Activities office has placed sanctions against us saying that we stole the banners used in the action, we improperly used the space, and that we were disruptive to a closed university function. We question all of these findings.

First off the banners that we used were found, and were clearly NEVER going to be used by the university – they articulated outdated goals & campaigns and outdated fashion! Secondly, we believe that the building and event that we interrupted was in need of some perspective. The event is traditionally meant as a rallying point to make students blind to the excesses of the university administration. Our banner drop highlighted to students for only a few minutes the hypocrisy of an administration that is raising tuition while receiving free housing and enormous salaries.

 Call:

Student Union Activities Office

Associate Director Denny Olsen olsen013@umn.edu 612-625-6295

Assistant Director Megan Sweet vande104@umn.edu 612-625-8266

President Robert Bruininks bruin001@umn.edu 612-626-1616

Bellow you will find links to the media about the action and our formal appeal letter:

http://www.fightbacknews.org/2009/09/u-of-m-sds-launches-save-our-school-campaign.htm

http://www.mndaily.com/2009/09/03/students-interrupt-convocation

Our Formal Appeal:

Denny Olsen and Whomever it May Concern,

Students for a Democratic Society at the University of Minnesota have decided to appeal the 1-year probation request put forward by the Student Union and Activities Office on October 5th. SDS is an organization that embraces the right to free speech; we are enthusiastic about a diversity of methods in which free speech is sought, including dropping banners during a university president’s speech. If the market place of ideas is off limits for students or student groups on campus via the student conduct code, then it is our opinion that the student conduct code should be revised immediately.

Under the student conduct code, SDS was found in violation of theft from the university for the banners that were dropped at Convocation. The charge of theft indicates that a person who was at one time in possession of these items is currently missing them and has requested their property be returned. From what the SUA has indicated, there has been no person requesting the immediate return of these banners, therefore they are not being missed. Furthermore, this charge is a radical assumption that SDS did indeed steal these banners from someone, a charge that from the beginning SDS has denied. This was charged without proof or evidence from the SUA and SDS stands by our conviction that they were in fact found items.

SDS has also been charged with unauthorized use of university facilities. As a public university, SDS believes that no buildings should be shut down to persons who are either of the university community or who financially aid the university. This includes: students, staff, faculty, administrators, alumni, tax payers, etc. Furthermore, SDS recognizes that the current financial status of our university is a crisis situation. To shutdown students from organizing the university community into action should be an embarrassment to the university.

Finally, SDS is being charged of engaging in disruptive behavior at convocation. SDS stands firm in recognizing a diversity of tactics when engaging the student body and sees alternative tactics as necessary in pursuing our campaign. A university that claims to adhere to a free speech policy should similarly recognize the diverse ways in which free speech is expressed.

SDS demands the right to eligibility as a recognized student group on campus. Limiting the right to speech on campus is a dangerous thing and should be seen as detrimental not only to the university, but also to the university community at large (students, faculty, staff). Our university should embrace radical thought and action, rather than limiting student groups who do not necessarily fall in line with the university’s politics.

Signed,

Members of the University of Minnesota Chapter of Students for a Democratic Society (UMN SDS)

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From the University of California Struggle – Humanities Building Occupied!

October 16th, 2009

As of tonight, Humanities 2 has been occupied, along with the administrative building for Humanities and Social Sciences.

Because of the proliferation of occupations at UCSC, this group is changing into a solidarity group for the new occupation of the administrative building.

The UC administration has pledged ALL of our tuition money towards making more buildings. They have used the California financial crisis as a means to produce more tuition money so that they can simply produce more buildings.

This is symptomatic of Capitalism, and it is most definitely time to take a stand against both the privatization of our University and the untenable situation of our failing economic order.

Please spread around the group, invite all of your friends, come out and support the occupation, together we will never be alone again.

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YO!

SDS opener ’09Look at this fancy pantsy updated flyer for SOS and SDS meetings – distribute widley.SDS opener ’09

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occupyca.wordpress.com

PLEASE TAKE THE BELOW STATEMENT AND READ IT TO YOUR CLASSES

From the graveyard of history comes a plea from the undead… BE REALISTIC, DEMAND THE IMPOSSIBLE!!!

I sincerely hope that all of you know about the walkout and the student occupation that took place the whole first week of school. The struggle continues, and this message is brought to you by those students who were a part of the occupation as well as those who have joined them in their fight.

One of the most bewildering observations made from the inside of these events, especially the student occupation, was the realization of how symbolically important they were for activists all around the world- within hours a solidarity rally was held in Union Square in New York; letters of solidarity have come groups from all over California, all over the US, as well from as far away as South Africa, Croatia, the UK, Greece, and Italy; The UK Guardian ran an editorial several days ago on the emergence of new student movements that began its story with the UCSC occupation- and here, right in front of us, how unimportant they were for those who passed by and read our banners, looking upon us as if we were no different than some student group in the quad advertising our fraternity of sorority.

The most common criticism we’ve heard time and time again in response to these actions, posed by skeptics on the sideline, is the question, “Do you really think this is going to change anything?” There is a short and simple answer to this one. “No, absolutely fucking not.” As single actions, as single events composed of only an insignificant percentage of the student/worker body, from the start, they had no chance of doing anything at all. Sometimes it seems that the only thing that could have possibly appeased the people who asked this question is if the morning after the events, the world entered into a new perfect era of peace, freedom, equality, and prosperity.

Their cynicism reeks the stench of premature death, as if history were already written and nothing could be done to change it. We won’t accept this. We can’t accept this. If we do then there is no point to anything, no point to education, no point to even wake up in the morning.

For those of us who are juniors and seniors, we try to put the problem out of our minds and just focus on graduating, feeling lucky we’ll be able to finish before it gets worse, but trying as hard as possible not to think about what comes next in the absence of a job market and a secure future. For those of us who are freshman and sophomores, we feel cheated and robbed, financially and academically as we are forced to pay more for less and more crowded classes that no longer have sections and TA’s to help us, and socially and culturally as we are now expected to partake in a fight over a problem we didn’t start, at a time when we just want to have that standard right of passage college experience of partying and getting to know ourselves.

No one here picked this crisis. No one wants this crisis (except of course for those corporate oligarchs who are able to find it profitable). But it is a reality that we must step up to challenge.

The media likes to pick rhetoric that softens the blow- what we are dealing with is a recession, just a temporary setback; we just have to buckle up right now, fasten our belts, and get through it; we just need our faculty and staff to take something called “furloughs.” Yudof explained the meaning of this word perfectly to the New York Times, saying the reason for using the word “furlough” is that it sounds more, “temporary than “salary cut.”

What we’re experiencing right now isn’t a temporary setback, but an irreversible downward spiral. It is a fundamental restructuring of society always passed quickly and covertly during times of crisis, meant to leave people so shocked and awed at what is happening to them that they are unable to organize and respond. (Why do you think that the majority of these “resolutions” were passed during the summer months when students were away?) It is a phenomenon that has already occurred all over the world where free trade economic policies cut social services and put everything under private control, giving unimaginable power to an elite few while impoverishing the rest. It is an economic shock therapy treatment pioneered in the US that has now come home.

We’re being fucked right now and history has given us no reason to believe that anything will ever get better without a fight!

WE ARE YOUR FRIENDS

Many slogans were generated as a result of the first week’s occupation. Many of them were chanted by hundreds of students who partook in what were meant to be politically galvanizing dance parties. One of the many slogans produced from the occupation was “No business as usual!” As classes return to “normal” (albeit severely lacking resources available in the past), it would seem this message has already gone unheeded. This year can’t be like any other year. It already isn’t.

The problem does indeed seem like an impossible one to solve but in an allusion to the spirit of a student movement before us, for a week over the quad flew the words: “Be realistic, demand the impossible, or else…” that is, or else be ready to face the consequences of inaction- a society that no longer considers working towards anything but a centrist political compromise, and a civilization that is no longer able to dream of bettering itself.

Perhaps most notorious of the slogans was the single demand “We want everything!” Why should we want less? We want everything back that’s been taken from us and we want shit we didn’t even have in the first place. We want our junior high track team back. We want our state parks protected. We want a job market with the promise good paying jobs with benefits. We want well functioning affordable universities with well paid staff and faculty. We want all war to end. We want a just, free, equal society. We want the promise of a bright future. We want the impossible, and to get it, we need to be willing to do the impossible. We must end this dead end logic that waits for hope to fall as manna from the sky above. We must ourselves be the hope that we desire.

There are many ways for everyone to get involved in what, at this point, cannot be anything less than a broad social movement. Everyone must think what knowledge, skills, and resources they possess that they can contribute what ideas they have to push this struggle forward. We must organize. Start just with your immediate friends and make a plan for action. You don’t have to do this in place of partying; as our dance parties were meant to show, activism can be a party itself. Form networks amongst smaller groups and coordinate efforts. Break down the barriers between undergraduate students, graduate students, workers, professors, and community members. We’re all in this together. If you disagree with any of the tactics that have been used, then don’t simply criticize; pick and follow through with tactics you don’t disagree with. We are all working towards the same end. Together we must make this year, and the years to come, and however long it takes, something the administration, the state, and all of those who got us into this fiscal mess, wish they had never started.

WE ARE THE CRISIS!

AND WE’RE JUST GETTING STARTED…

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President Obama announced in March that he would be sending 21,000 additional troops to Afghanistan. But in an unannounced move, the White House has also authorized — and the Pentagon is deploying — at least 13,000 troops beyond that number, according to defense officials

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Students ready to protest eight years of U.S. occupation in Afghanistan
By Daniel Ginsberg-Jaeckle | 
October 1, 2009

Student anti-war activists across the country are preparing for the Oct. 7 national day of action against the war in Afghanistan.

Initiated by Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) at the 2009 national convention, the SDS national day of action comes on the eighth anniversary of the war and calls for an immediate U.S. withdrawal and an unconditional end to the occupation of Afghanistan.

About twenty college campuses across the country plan to participate in protests, events and actions.

“Students around the country will be joining together to say no to the U.S. occupation of Afghanistan,” commented Stephanie Taylor, University of Minnesota SDS. “Students are outraged that more money and troops are going to Afghanistan when people here are struggling to afford things like health care and education.”

This past summer SDS passed a resolution called “U.S out of Afghanistan! End the war now!” which urged participation in a national day of action. The resolution states, “Oct. 7 will mark the eighth year that the U.S. has been at war with Afghanistan, under the auspice of fighting ‘the war on terror.’ In eight years under occupation, tens of thousands of Afghans have been killed by U.S. air strikes, bombs, and bullets, and the Afghani infrastructure has been devastated.”

Enthusiastic about the day of action, Jenae Stainer of Tuscaloosa SDS said, “Oct. 7 is going to be an important day for the anti-war movement. It’s time to shift the focus to Afghanistan, a war costing billions of dollars and thousands of lives.”

Gurujiwan Khalsa, of UCLA SDS, a school where thousands of students, workers and faculty recently participated in a walkouts against unjust budget cuts and tuition hikes related to the U.S. economic crisis, is going to be active in fighting to bring this costly war to an end.

“The war in Afghanistan is fundamentally against the interests of the American as well as the Afghani people. It is a waste of lives and money. The sooner the US-led coalition quits Afghanistan, the better,” said Khalsa.

For more information, please contact sdsantiwar@gmail.com or visit http://sdsantiwar.wordpress.com

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