A short film about a campaign which took place on campus at UC Berkeley in November 2009. Note the increasing number of supporters outside the Wheeler Hall occupation, which rapidly became a flashpoint in the resistance to a 32% fee increase and staff cuts.
“On the evening of November 18th 2009 the regents of the University of California voted to raise undergraduate tuition to more than $10,000 per year, a 32 percent increase. There was also the announcement of massive layoffs and furloughing. From November 18-20, the students, faculty, and workers of the University of California at Berkeley striked, marched, and occupied buildings throughout the campus. People collected garbage and piled it in front of California Hall. Students and demonstrators battled police lines to attempt to enter the administration building. Average college students quickly became militants. Graduate students laid down books and hit the streets. Union members, students, and activists joined together in struggle. General assemblies became part of everyday campus life. Police and campus administrators lost control of the situation and the media looked on in awe.”
For more information on the 2009 Californian Occupation movement, check out After The Fall: Communiques From Occupied California over on our Reading page
Below is an abridgement of Research and Destroy’s seminal communique from the 2009 Californian occupations movement, which saw students take control of buildings on University of California campuses across the state in the face of a 32% fee increase, staff cuts and simultaneous increases in expenditure on capital works by management. A compilation of related articles and resources can be accessed on the resources page.
The truth of life after the university is mean and petty competition for resources with our friends and strangers: the hustle for a lower management position that will last (with luck) for a couple years rifted with anxiety, fear, and increasing exploitation—until the firm crumbles and we mutter about “plan B.” But this is an exact description of university life today; that mean and petty life has already arrived. Just to survive, we are compelled to adopt various attitudes toward this fissure between bankrupt promises and the actuality on offer. Some take a naïve romantic stance toward education for its own sake, telling themselves they expect nothing further. Some proceed with iron cynicism and scorn, racing through the ludicrous charade toward the last wad of cash in the airless vault of the future. And some remain committed to the antique faith that their ascendingly hard labor will surely be rewarded some day if they just act as one who believes, just show up, take on more degrees and more debt, work harder.
Romantic naïvete, iron cynicism, scorn, commitment. The university and the life it reproduces have depended on these things. They have counted on our human capacities to endure, and to prop up that world’s catastrophic failure for just a few more years. But why not hasten its collapse? The university has rotted itself from the inside: the “human capital” of staff, teachers, and students would now no more defend it than they would defend a city of the dead. Romantic naïvete, iron cynicism, scorn, commitment: these need not be abandoned. The university forced us to learn them as tools; they will return as weapons. The university that makes us mute and dull instruments of its own reproduction must be destroyed so that we can produce our own lives. Romantic naïvete about possibilities; iron cynicism about methods; scorn for the university’s humiliating lies about its situation and its good intentions; commitment to absolute transformation — not of the university, but of our own lives. This is the beginning of imagination’s return. We must begin to move again, release ourselves from frozen history, from the igneous frieze of this buried life. We must live our own time, our own possibilities. These are the only true justifications for the university’s existence, though it has never fulfilled them. On its side: bureaucracy, inertia, incompetence. On our side: everything else.