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Occupy Education

Dear AAUP member:

Last fall, the AAUP Council and CBC Executive Committee endorsed the Occupy Wall Street movement. Now, we encourage AAUP chapters, conferences, and members to participate in a day of action for education (aka Occupy Education), coming up Thursday, March 1.

Recent years have witnessed a widespread defunding of higher education, and a greater share of what funding there is being allocated to non-instructional expenses such as facilities and administrator salaries. More and more faculty jobs are part-time, insecure positions; more and more students are shut out as tuition and fees rise and the necessary support systems are not there.

If the deterioration of higher education—especially public higher education—is to be slowed, stopped, and reversed, faculty must speak out. We must join others in insisting, as the Occupy Education call to action puts it, that “We refuse to accept the dismantling of our schools and universities, while the banks and corporations make record profits. We refuse to accept educational re-segregation, massive tuition increases, outrageous student debt, and increasing privatization and corporatization.”

How Can AAUP Chapters, Conferences, and Individuals Participate?

If you have a large group or can work on this with other groups on campus . . .

  • Organize a rally, teach-in, or other public event.
  • Organize a petition drive on an issue relevant to your campus, such as stopping tuition hikes, paying all workers a decent wage, or something else. Gather a lot of signatures; send a delegation to deliver them to your administration on March 1.
  • Host an open forum at which students and faculty are invited to share their concerns. Invite faculty in leadership positions, local legislators, and/or administrators to be members of a panel hearing the testimony and concerns. Invite campus and local media.

If you only have a handful of individuals . . .
  • Hand out fliers and hang one on your office door. (Draft and sample flyers are available here and here.)
  • If relevant to your class, take a few minutes to teach about what is happening on your campus (Tuition raises? Increasing number of contingent faculty? Faculty salary freezes, furloughs? Increasing class sizes? High expenditures on facilities, union busting, or other noninstructional activities?)
  • Write brief (one- or two-paragraph) letters to your local newspaper highlighting what you are seeing on your campus or how local higher ed is affected by the current budget climate.

If you prefer an academic event . . .
  • Organize a teach-in or panel discussion on the topic of “How can we ensure quality higher education for all?,” “Should public higher education be free?,” “The divide between haves and have-nots at this university,” “Where does our state’s [or university’s] money really go?,” or another relevant topic. Invite knowledgeable faculty and students to speak. Work on turning out participants: hand out flyers, let people know several times by e-mail, and personally invite your colleagues and students. If your chapter or conference can afford it, provide food and publicize that fact to draw people. Invite campus and local media, legislators, and administrators. Appoint people to introduce themselves to any legislators or reporters (including students) in attendance and to follow up with legislators or media in case they have questions.
  • Host a viewing of a movie. Serve snacks, and have a discussion afterward.

If you like to bake . . .
  • Hold a bake sale to raise money for a specific campus need: to keep tuition down, for example, or as an adjunct faculty relief fund. Have simple talking points ready to present orally and on a flyer as you sell. Deliver the money to your president’s office. Invite student reporters to come along.

More resources and ideas are being added at http://www.occupyed.org/.

Please let Gwen Bradley (gbradley@aaup.org) know your plans!