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UCSC Struggles over Grades amid Strike 

UCSC Struggles over Grades amid Strike 

By Eugenio Negro

SANTA CRUZ, Thursday 20 February 2020

“Cops off campus! COLA in my bank account!”

Members of the picket line at the university’s main entrance at the intersection of Coolidge (Bay) and High streets reported that the crowd had thinned out this week. There hadn’t been much more police action since after Wednesday 12 February, when UCSC Chancellor Cynthia Larive and Vice Chancellor Lori Kletzer ordered police, which ended up being an inter-county coalition effort, to violently suppress picketers who shut down the intersection.

Not only members of the picket line, but students down to their first undergraduate year, had information about how UCSC administration’s struggle with the striking Teaching Assistants and Graduate Instructors has come down to students’ grades. Administration has threatened to begin firing strikers after Friday 21 February if they do not post grades by the end of the day.

Previous reporting by KQED and the City on a Hill Press can give background about the strike and the violence used to intimidate its supporters. City on a Hill Press was on strike Thursday according to a thorough statement of solidarity with the strikers published in last week’s 13 February issue. In essence, lack of progress since October between teaching grad students represented by UAW and administration, on a $1412/month cost-of-living increase, motivated a campus-wide movement to shut down classes beginning 10 February that followed a warning that they would withhold publishing grades. Administration responded with violence and intimidation.

This writer ran into the “arrestees’ corner” at the southwest corner of Coolidge and High, where we encountered Rachelle Lamb, whose problems with the police have been documented by the City on a Hill Press, and grad instructor James Sirigotis, who was photographed by KQED with his head scratched open. Lamb, a fourth-year undergrad, has been banned from campus, including her on-campus residence, since last week and just got a letter Tuesday “modifying my suspension” –she can sleep at her residence now. She says she was arrested delivering water to the picket line, forced from her vehicle by police and detained without charge.

Sirigotis, a fifth-year PhD candidate, was also one of the sixteen occupiers of the intersection arrested on Wednesday 12 February. He was charged with “obstructing traffic movement” and “failure to disperse.” As KQED’s photograph shows, Sirigotis had his forehead scraped, and he also said that police pulled out the hair on the crown of his head, in what he called “pain compliance tactics,” which is a euphemism for police brutality. He says he was “processed” at the UCSC facility down by Natural Bridges and that among the present was a detention vehicle from Alameda County Sheriff divided into holding cells.

Sirigotis said that there is no clear consensus on whether to publish grades Friday. City on a Hill’s Elena Neale quotes grad-student representative Tony Boardman as saying administration had by 13 February only proposed “to pause the strike in return for a pause in retaliation.” Sirigotis says UCSC Faculty Senate had passed a “resolution” condemning the use of force by police, and that the university has in the past two weeks spent $300,000 per day on police. Another fourth-year undergrad said she’d seen a clump of police vehicles at the Stevenson cove for security at a chancellor meeting Wednesday the 19th. She also heard that a single SWAT-team call last week had cost the university $500,000. No official information is available.

A student called Will said that the UAW 2865 representation has been around to talk to the strikers, but clarified that this indeed is a “wildcat strike” not endorsed or organized by the union. It remains unclear how much productive action administration and labor have taken this week, nor whether anyone is moving to hold the police responsible for excessive force.

James Sirigotis added that the Faculty Senate meeting last week had “the largest turnout, you know, for a long time,” and that it also produced a 75% vote in favor of faculty hiring their own TAs.

One group of strikers said that they’d seen KQED’s report and that they were satisfied with it. But up on the hill, everyone had different pieces of a new story about how the faculty is dealing with the striking TAs.

About twenty students surveyed overwhelmingly reported many classes cancelled in the past two weeks, except for evening classes, many of them intended to be replaced by non-mandatory online sessions posted last-minute. Many, undergrads as well as graduate students, reported feeling solidarity with the strikers in this single for-profit public university system. Others continued attending classes where they say attendance was often much smaller.

Students also reported that different departments are making different moves and demands regarding the TA strike. Several students said that there had been little change in their course attendance over the week, neither amongst students nor TAs. A group of seniors and grad students on Science Hill said that they’d noted almost no absent TAs in the “STEM departments.” One student suggested physics, and fourth-year Taranis Hunter  said that business, computer science and economics, “at least,” were requiring their TAs to come to work during the strike.

History senior Henry Bordeaux said that his history TA is publishing grades. Two more undergrads, first and third year in game design, said that the history department was ready to give out P grades to all. This could cause serious problems with students who already have a lot of P grades, since there is a certain ratio to P versus grade scale in order to take a diploma. They added that the P grade message had come through official email, similar to another message asking undergrads to report cancelled sections, which has been called an act of attempted surveillance. A first-year grad student said that her department had taken another such “community survey” with regard to the strike, and that two science departments were essentially telling TAs not to strike. 

The unnamed first-year master student said that a science department had also said it would give letter grades out for the TAs; this must be questioned as it is illegal at the elementary and secondary levels for administration or anyone but the teacher in question to touch grades whatever.

The STEM departments’ apparent policy could have a deciding effect Friday given that the greatest enrollment proportion of UCSC’s 16,900+ students is in business, computer science, biology and economics, according to US News, a source often used by high schools. Some sources say that the most popular undergraduate major in the country is psychology, and this writer’s experience tends to support that claim.

Down the hill, one has to wonder whether shirts that read “Psych on strike,” for example, have come out of consensus. It appears that the sciences and mathematics departments have a very different agenda leading up to administration’s Friday deadline to post grades. Considering the presence of Silicon Valley on campus, this is not surprising. Picketers told us that other UC campuses are watching each other, and that to call a potential bluff by administration Friday could motivate other UC campuses’ movements to demand similar contractual improvements for labor. An example of this self-awareness is visible in Neale’s article for City on a Hill Press, in which picketers hold a sign demanding wage parity with UC Riverside grad students. Strange, then, that most students up the hill did not consider their grades to be in danger, even if strikers do call administration’s bluff and expose themselves to firing. On the other hand, many students Thursday described a visible disconnect between student body and administration.

The fact that UCSC has so many TAs is partly its own doing, trying according to the Regents’ plan for the last twenty-odd years to destroy the professor track, bust unions, and replace section hours’ former professors with adjuncts and, where possible, teaching assistants and graduate instructors. Now the university’s underpaid underclass workforce has got too big, has to work under an enormous cost of living, and is costing more than planned. For students it’s more unneeded anxiety levied on them by a system that profits from their debt. The strikers left on Thursday characterize their struggle as one for basic human rights.

 

The Real Three Californias

Three Californias: it’s one idea that appeals to both idiotic white trash and the technocrat fascists whom they worship.
Us versus them, dude! Self-determination, dude! Local, brah! But it’s really about what it’s always really about: a legislated goldrush. In this case, that’d mean annihilating a tax base and maybe a commercial system that barely hold things together as they are.
For you consumers who don’t pay attention to who and what make this state go, here are some realistic, yea, likely inevitable scenarios for a rich man’s three Californias after the November 2018 election. Vote yes, vote no, but vote your ethics!
Negro3californias2018.png

California:
1. Governor Antonio Villaraigosa, often costumed as a sea otter
2. Populated exclusively by billionaires paying each other no taxes
3. Populated exclusively by billionaires, no one minds that water from the tap costs $1.00 per gallon from those hicks in Northern California
4. Soon the entire entertainment industry is made of degenerate inbred celebrities from Los Angeles, who have to be made attractive using After Effects
5. The frigging air is “organic” and “artesanal”

Northern California
:
1. Governor Greg Gopman, because people fall for “redemption” in the media every time
2. Populated exclusively by billionaires and nonprofiteers
3. Constant warfare with the South over the aqueduct system, disguised as more-distracting hate crime
4. Robotic service industry: cooks, cleaners, landscapers, all of it
5. Every lightswitch and streetcorner is named after fucking Steve Jobs or fucking Ed Lee

Southern California:
1. Governor Don J Grundmann (after he gets booted from the North), because people fall for “redemption” in the media every time
2. Anything green to eat from Salinas or Santa Rosa basically costs a month’s rent
3. Robotic police, medical and service industry bought at a huge price from the North
4. Fresno finally gets to be the capital, with a banking system of crystal meth and slaves
5. Yosemite

In General:
1. Salinas, Pajaro, Santa Inez and Santa Maria valleys are to be bent to feed the Los Angeles Basin, while Sonoma is to feed the San Francisco Bay and the rest of the Northern state will likely be deforested to grow weed.
2. Northern and Southern states will be one continuous swath of freeway-dominated suburbs with no recycling, each population 50 million and therefore,
3. No government will ever be up for election not made of executives from Hovnanian, Alliance, Irvine Company, Webcor, Granite, etc., and therefore,
4. The Sierra Nevada will be completely deforested and exploited for all possible minerals in order to build houses and California’s tech gizmos, except Yosemite
5. Humanitarian crises at borders with California, each other, Arizona and Baja. At the border with Baja, a world-famous child-rape sales industry. The border with the North becomes the busiest and most violent border on Earth, bustling for a chance to work for Google, Apple, or Starbucks
6. 100% charter schools or straight-up private schools, and you can forget the state college system
7. The need for an enormous genocide against people of color in order to even get the thing to work

The fascist Silicon Valley billionaire Tim Draper, who really has nothing better to do than sponsor this bill, not pick up garbage, not rent housing to people for cheap because he doesn’t need the money, not help the state buy up old ranches for open space, said the following:
“Three states will get us better infrastructure, better education and lower taxes…”
Such a brazen lie gets past voters all the time. What he means is better control of infrastructure, education and taxes that favor the interests of the rich; not the self-determination of a working republic who don’t have to choose housing over healthy living, but the self-determination of plutocrats who redraw a country in their own image. One thing’s for sure, it already can’t get any worse for the immigrants who will continue to come because no in all three states will pick their own food or clean their own house…

UPDATE 18 JULY: the California Supreme Court, whom you really have to piss off in order to get them to work, found an embarrassingly lame loose end in the proposition process and took the Three Californias piece off the ballot, so that’s the end of that. This asshole Draper spent enough money on his campaign to have paid how many elders’ medical bills. But the real losers here are Californians, who still believe enough in the libertarian drivel jackoff dream to desire the creation of two Red States in order to pay fewer taxes that they can afford and in fact must pay in order to go around being Libertarians on Californian freeways and drinking from Californian pipes…

Guadalupe River in Concrete and Mud 19.2.17

Here’s some arty stuff I managed to squeeze out of my crap phone camera. Radioactive saturated groundwater escaping from a large bus stop in Chernobyl. Doesn’t really do the setting justice but the colors are cool.

Something about having all that water going under the freeway pylons seemed to give the pylons a meaning or at least aesthetic place that they’d never had before. Might as well take a picture, especially since this kind of weather won’t come again for almost 30 more years! I miss having my real camera loaded all the time, but lo, too many hobbies get expensive.

1. Looking over the emergency underground spillway, toward southeast, from the west bank near Children’s Discovery Museum. Those huge sugarcubes of rubble on the east bank are usually covered in tents and people’s stuff but they hit it a few weeks ago.

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2. As above only looking due south.20170219_104045

3. From the east bank looking north. The furthest visible pylon is what we see in the topmost image above. The blade of the underground spillway wall is illuminated at left in the very back.20170219_111628

Elephant Hanged Twice in 2016 For Resisting

Originally posted on Alafair: A hundred years ago, an elephant named Mary was strung up by a crane and publicly hanged to death in a Tennessee town after she struck back at a circus employee who hit her with a sharp tool called a bullhook. It took two attempts to kill Mary. The first chain…

via A hundred years ago, an elephant named Mary was strung up by a crane and publicly hanged to death — Exposing the Big Game

Farmworkers call for boycott against Driscolls

A consortium of workers voiced by the Fair World Project have called for a boycott of Driscoll’s berries. Read the full article here:

http://www.triplepundit.com/2015/04/farmworkers-union-calls-for-boycott-against-driscolls/

Finally, what I’ve been doing for ten years is catching on. Boycott Driscolls and Giant for life! You live in the midwest or New York and you just like your berries once in a while? Tough shit! I’m from the coast where they grow those berries, and it’s been totally inhuman and insane for at least 30 years. The farmworkers are treated like less than animals, and the year-round obsession has caused 3 miles of saltwater intrusion into the best soil in the world. Boycott for life!

As we know, the “fruta del diablo” or strawberry, is so dangerous and strenuous to pick that migrant farmworkers have long ended up at 20 years old with the backs of 40 year-olds. They take heroin in Pajaro and Prunedale to feel better, and that’s probably why heroin in Santa Cruz is so cheap for you idiot consumer college students.