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Tent State Three At Rutgers
T he third annual Tent State University took place at Rutgers University the week of April 18, 2005. The demonstration had support from students, student groups, the Administration, faculty, and legislators. The basic message of their mission statement was: “Education, Not War.” Throughout the week, students attended workshops in the day, danced to bands in the evening, and camped in tents all night.
W hat is becoming a Rutgers tradition started two years ago as a protest organized by members of the Community Empowerment Project (CEP). Founded by Tom DeGloma and Xavier Hansen in 1994, the CEP was created to bring Rutgers students and New Brunswick community members together. In February 2003 when then-Governor James McGreevey proposed to cut state New Jersey higher education funding by an unprecedented $143 million, CEP members planned a 2-day peaceful protest.
Rutgers alumnus and logistics coordinator Yael Bromberg says that their idea to camp out was intially shot down by the Administration because they were told that the grass had to stay nice for graduation. Says Bromberg, “We asked them, ‘Is this a university or a golf course?’” The Administration then let them use the lawn. On the second day of the protest, McCormick showed up and asked the students how long they planned on staying there. “We told him we planned on staying as long as it was nice out,” says Troeder. “So he said, ‘I hear it’s supposed to be nice until Saturday’.” Due to overwhelming popularity and support, Tent State was continued throughout the week.
Symbolically, Tent State represents an alternative university for those who are being displaced and ignored by the lack of funding for higher education. Hansen calls it a “university open to everyone,” in which every member has a voice. With its free classes and emphasis on non-hierarchical decision-making, it is also a model for what a democratic community would look like. “Everyone’s voice is heard and everyone’s opinions are discussed to the point of general consent,” explains Troeder. DeGloma stresses the importance of having everyone play a part. “We’re actively encouraging as many students, facuty, staff, and community members as possible to get involved in lobbying both state and federal representatives.”
Tent State has grown to include colleges across the country. Andrea Mueller, one the outreach coordinators who works for the anti-war coalition United for Peace and Justice (UFPJ), recommended that CEP become a member group of UFPJ. The model for Tent State was met with great interest by UFPJ students from all across the country. After taking the model back to their schools, colleges such as Ohio State, University of Texas at Austin, University of California Santa Cruz, and University of Missouri-Kansas City, decided to have their own Tent State.
Following a year in which the federal government allocated $53.1 billion to the Department of Education and $365.3 billion to the Department of Defense, the organizers have taken an anti-war stance. Bromberg says the anti-war message offers a possible solution of where to take funds from instead of simply identifying the problem of funding. Part of their mission statement reads, “We demand full funding for our public institutions of higher learning and oppose the reckless squandering of life and resources through the militarization of our national agenda.” Though there were no budget cuts proposed for higher education this year, junior Lena Posner, one of the outreach coordinators, warns against giving up the fight, noting that New Jersey ranks 47th among other states in funding for higher education. “Even when they’re not making cuts, we’re still in a dire situation to begin with,” she says.
On the state level, Rutgers University receives less funding from New Jersey than it used to. “Right now, Rutgers is half a public institution,” says Posner. She notes that in 1992 Rutgers received 64 percent of its funds from New Jersey and now receives about 50 percent of its funding from the state. In addition, tuition has risen over 150 percent in the past 10 years.
T his year’s Tent State was the biggest yet. Posner estimated that there were over 117 tents and 300-400 campers. The event was kicked off with a speech from activist Medea Benjamin. Legislators also came to show their support, such as Assemblypersons Upendra Chivukula, Patrick Deignan, and Carol Greenstein.
Tent State featured anti-war speeches later in the day. The newly formed Rutgers Against the War (RAW) brought speakers from Iraq Veterans Against the War. RAW was eager to endorse Tent State as its members see a lack of student activism on campus. “Collective student activism has fallen out of our consciousness,” says RAW member John Hayes, a senior.
The second day’s events included a medic workshop, a presentation on the Zapitistas, and a poetry slam at night. The medic workshop, entitled “First Aid 101,” dealt with basic procedures for an urban protest situation. The training, lead by a well-known Jersey activist known as Charlie the Medic, taught participants how to make a temporary arm sling, how to flush out someone’s eyes after being pepper sprayed, and different techniques for carrying someone with a sprained ankle.
The Zapatista presentation began with a brief history of NAFTA’s role in redistributing Mexican land, touching on how the U.S. pressured Mexico to change Article 27 of their constitution to allow previously community-owned land to be bought and sold. The latter half of the presentation focused on Zapatista women. The event was put on by the Mexico Solidarity Network and Adrian Boutureira, a member of the Committee of Indigenous Solidarity who stopped by Tent State on her national tour.
The poetry slam was part of Verbal Mayhem, an open mic poetry reading that occurs every Tuesday night. Regulars and newcomers shared their poetry and cheered each other on. Verbal Mayhem was one of many events that moved to Tent State that week.
On Wednesday afternoon, members of the Rutgers American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) gathered students together for a group reading of the First Amendment followed by a speech by Ed Barocas, the legal director of NJ-ACLU. Barocas spoke about free speech cases involving students. He went over about ten cases, all of which ended in a victory for the NJ-ACLU, and reminded students of the importance of exercising free speech. He ended by saying, “You have the right to remain silent…and you have the right not to.”
Later in the afternoon, the New Brunswick Bicycle Network teamed up with Rutgers Sustainable to host a cars vs. bikes race. Pitting nine cyclists against three drivers, the event was dubbed the “paper chase.” Each person had to deliver a term paper from the College Avenue campus to the Douglass campus and return. The nine bikes beat the three cars. The founder of the local bike library said, “We support student issues. We are working on transportation issues at Rutgers and we want to get more people riding bikes.” The bike library offers a place for community members to borrow bikes, learn how to fix bikes, and hang out.
The next event of the day was a Sweatshop Fashion Show put on by Latino Unidos en Poder (LUEP). The LUEP brings cultural and political events to Rutgers. The Sweatshop Fashion Show is an annual event whose purpose is to raise awareness to an important issue using creativity. The group decided that “it fit in with the mock university.”
Thursday kicked off with a workshop on the Women’s Center Defense Coalition by junior Lindsay Napolitano. To show solidarity with Tent State and also increase visibility, the students who run the all-student all-volunteer Rutgers women’s center decided to move the center to Tent State for the week.
Napolitano was eager to have the women’s center endorse Tent State. “Obviously we have a lot of similar interests,” she says. “The women’s center is an advocate of a progressive agenda and this is something we’d like to show solidarity with.” Also, “The issue of funding for higher education hits close to home for the women’s center because we’re grossly underfunded,” says Napolitano. “It’s also important to maintain a sense of community within the progressive sphere.”
Friday afternoon, vice president for Student Affairs Gregory Blimling sat down with Tent State participants to go over their list of demands. In addition to stating their own demands, Tent State organizers asked each sponsoring organization to list a demand on behalf of its group. Most of the meeting time served as a discussion forum. Students viewed it as a good step towards getting their voices heard. Blimling says he supports Tent State’s goals and its participants. “They are very organized and I like working with them.”
At night, Rutgers Culture Jam put on a globalization teach-in. The teach-in, run by junior Vincent Trivett, sophomore Kyan Bowman, and junior Stephanie Basile (the author of this article), focused on the general effects of globalization, the effects of globalization on Rutgers, and feminism in globalization. “TSU is a university of self-made student-run classes, which is the ideal environment for such a teach-in,” says Bowman. “Culture Jam as an organization has and always will advocate the essential necessity for immediate affordable access to higher education.” Bowman’s part of the teach-in is especially important to the school right now, as Rutgers’ ten-year exclusive contract with Coca Cola is up in May. Students have been raising awareness about the issue for years and have been especially active in bringing it to light this past semester. Culture Jam has teamed up with several other organizations, including Rutgers Sustainable and Killer Coke, to kick Coke off campus. Bowman explains that Culture Jam is not only concerned with Coke’s human rights violations but also exclusive contracts in general, saying they “leave no headway for fair market and sell students to corporations as permanent consumers.”
Tent State extended through the weekend this year, putting on a variety of activities. The weekend saw a teach-in about empire sponsored by NJ Solidarity and a wide range of performances by local bands and musicians.
A week after Tent State began a small group of organizers attended a meeting with Rutgers President Richard McCormick in which they broke their demands into four parts, which consisted of (1) increased legislative activity with students; (2) space and allocation of resources; (3) increased student representation within the school; and (4) taking a critical look at university policy. Posner said the meeting went well and that McCormick “was very receptive.” In response to their first demand, McCormick asked organizers to write up a list of students who would be interested in sitting on various planning committees.
Hostility In Santa Cruz
U nfortunately, Santa Cruz’s Tent City was not met with the same support that Rutgers has received. After their Administration told them they could not camp out, about 100 Santa Cruz students decided to go forward and occupy the base of the campus. According to Santa Cruz Indymedia, University of California police arrived at 9:53 PM and declared an unlawful assembly. A video clip shows police using pain compliance techniques to violently pry students apart from their arm-locked circles.
At Rutgers, organizers received a call from Santa Cruz explaining what happened. Before long, students everywhere had seen the footage and were outraged. “The kind of police brutality we saw, there’s nothing that can ever make that okay,” says Bromberg. She notes that the local media failed to cover it, reporting only that 19 students had been arrested that night. The situation was a reminder that as Tent State expands, new issues are going to pop up that Rutgers organizers haven’t encountered. “It’s something we have not had to deal with,” says Troeder.
Stephanie Basile is a junior at Rutgers University majoring in English and Women’s and Gender Studies.
Z Magazine Archive
AnnouncementsLABOR - May 1 is May Day. Workers of the world will celebrate the 124th anniversary of International Worker’s Day. Born out of a call for an 8-hour workday in the United States, this day is an opportunity for all workers to show their solidarity with one another, as well as to renew the call for labor rights.
FARM CONFERENCE - The Farm Conference on Community and Sustainability will be held May 24-26 in Summertown, TN, in partnership with the Fellowship of Intentional Communities. Tour green homes, see sustainable food production, learn about solar installations, alternative education, midwifery, and more.
Contact: Douglas@thefarmcommunity.com; http://www.thefarmcommunity.com/.
PALESTINE - The Conference of the Palestinian Shatat in North American will be held June 3-5 in Vancouver. The conference will examine the future of the Palestinian liberation movement.
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.palestinianconference.org/.
LABOR - The Pacific Northwest Labor History Association’s 45th annual conference will be held May 3-5, in Portland, OR. This year’s theme is Labor Under Attack: Learning from the Past and Preparing for the Future. A call for presentations, workshops and papers is currently underway.
Contact: PNLHA, 27920 68th Ave. East, Graham, WA 98338; 206-406-2604; PNLHA1@aol.com; http://www3.telus.net.
MARIJUANA - On the first Saturday of May marijuana legalization activists will hold informational and educational events, rallies and marches in over 300 cities around the world.
ECONOMICS - The Union For Radical Political Economics will hold its 39th annual conference May 9-11 in New York City.
RECLAIM THE DREAM - The 2013 Poor People’s Campaign & March from Baltimore to Washington D.C. will be May 11. Communities, schools and unions interested in participating are encouraged to contact the Baltimore People’s Assembly.
Contact: 410-500-2168; 410-218-4835; BaltimorePeoplesAssembly@gmail.com; Southern Christian Leadership Conference of Baltimore and the Baltimore Peoples Power Assembly, 2011 N. Charles St., Baltimore, MD 21218.
MOTHER’S DAY - The 17th Annual Mother’s Day Walk For Peace will be May 12th, in Dorchester, MA. The walk began in 1996 for families who had lost children to violence. The day has become a way for thousands of people to financially support the work of the Louis Brown Peace Institute.
Contact: http://www.ldbpeaceinstitute.org/; http://mothersdaywalk4peace.org/.
NATO 5 - An International Week of Solidarity with the NATO 5 has been called for May 16-21. Supports call on supporters to raise awareness of the NATO 5 and support funds for the defendants on the one-year anniversary of their preemptive arrests.
Contact: email@example.com; https://nato5support.wordpress.com.
MOUNTAINTOP - The 2013 Mountain Justice Summer Activist Training Camp will be held May 19-27 in Damascus, VA. It will be a week of workshops, field trips to view Mountain Top Removal coal mines, direct actions, and service project.
FEMINIST SCI-FI - The feminist science fiction convention WisCon 37 is scheduled for May 24-27 in Madison, WI.
Contact: WisCon, ? SF3, PO Box 1624, Madison, WI 53701; firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.wiscon.info/.
ANARCHY FEST - A month-long Festival of Anarchy is scheduled for May in Montreal. The festival includes The Montreal Anarchist Bookfair (May 19-20).
Contact: http://www.anarchistbookfair.ca/; http://www.radicalmontreal.com/.
LABOR - The International Labor Rights Forum will present: Down the Supply Chain, Driving Corporate Accountability, on May 22 in Washington, DC. The Labor Rights Awards Ceremony and Reception will honor pioneers in supply chain worker organizing, working solidarity and international labor rights policy.
MULTICULTURE - The 26th annual National Conference on Race & Ethnicity in American Higher Education (NCORE) will take place May 28-June 1, in New Orleans.
Contact: SWCHRS, 3200 Marshall Avenue, Suite 290, Norman, OK 73072; 405-325-3694; email@example.com; www.ncore.ou.edu.
MEDIA - The 2013 Alliance for Community Media Annual Conference will be held May 29-31, in San Francisco, CA. Participants will include educators, community leaders, media professionals, journalists, nonprofit leaders, policymakers and students.
RADIO - The 38th Annual Community Radio Conference is schedule for May 29-June 1, in San Francisco, CA, with discussions and workshops.
Contact: 1101 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, Suite 600, Washington, DC 20004; 202-756-2268; firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.nfcb.org/.
BRADLEY MANNING - On June 1, a rally will be held at Fort Meade in support of Bradley Manning.
BIKES - Bikes Not Bombs is holding its 24th annual Bike-A-Thon and Green Roots Festival in Boston, MA on June 3, with several bike rides scheduled, music, exhibitors and more.
Contact: Bikes Not Bombs, 284 Amory St., Jamaica Plain, MA 02130; 617-522-0222; email@example.com; www.bikesnotbombs.org.
LEFT FORUM - The 2013 Left Forum will be held June 7-9, at Pace University in New York City.
Contact: 365 Fifth Avenue, CUNY Graduated Center, ? Sociology Dept., New York, NY 10016; http://www.leftforum.org/.
VEGAN FEST - Mad City Vegan Fest will be held in Madison, WI, June 8. The annual event features food, speakers, and exhibitors.
Contact: 122 State Street, Suite 405 B, Madison, WI 53701; firstname.lastname@example.org; http://veganfest.org/.
ADC CONFERENCE - The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) holds its annual conference June 13-16, in Washington, DC, with panel discussions and workshops on civil rights, media and other topics.
Contact: 1990 M Street, Suite 610, Washington, DC, 20036; 202-244-2990; email@example.com http://convention.adc.org/.
CUBA/SOCIALISM - A Cuban-North American Dialog on Socialist Renewal and Global Capitalist Crisis will be held in Havana, Cuba, June 16-30. There will be a 5 day Seminar at University of Havana, plus visits to a cooperative, urban garden, community development project, social research centers, and educational & medical institutions.
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.globaljusticecenter.org/.
NETROOTS - The 8th Annual Netroots Nation conference will take place June 20-23 in San Jose, CA. The event features panels, trainings, networking, screenings, and keynotes.
Contact: 164 Robles Way, #276, Vallejo, CA 94591; email@example.com; http://www.netrootsnation.org/.
MEDIA - The 15th annual Allied Media Conference will be held June 20-23, in Detroit.
Contact: 4126 Third Street, Detroit, MI 48201; http://alliedmedia.org/.
GRASSROOTS - The United We Stand Festival will be hosted by Free & Equal, June 22 in Little Rock, Arkansas. The festival aims to reform the electoral process throughout the U.S.
SOCIALISM - The Socialism 2013 Conference is scheduled for June 27-30 in Chicago, featuring talks and panel discussions.
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.socialismconference.org.
LITERACY - The National Association for Media Literacy Education (NAMLE) will hold its conference July 12-13 in Los Angeles under the heading, Intersections: Teaching and Learning Across Media.
Contact: 10 Laurel Hill Drive, Cherry Hill, NJ 08003; http://namle.net/conference/.
IWW - The North American Work People’s College will take place July 12-16 at Mesaba Co-op Park in northern Minnesota. The event will bring together Wobblies from branches across the continent to learn new skills and build One Big Union.
PEACESTOCK - On July 13th, the 11th Annual Peacestock: A Gathering for Peace, will take place at Windbeam Farm in Hager City, WI. The event is a mixture of music, speakers and community for peace. Sponsored by Veterans for Peace.
Contact: Bill Habedank, 1913 Grandview Ave., Red Wing, MN 55066; 651-388-7733; email@example.com; http://www.peacestockvfp.org.
CHILDREN’S DEFENSE - July 15-19, join clergy, seminarians, Christian educators, young adult leaders and other faith-based advocates for children at CDF Haley Farm in Clinton, Tennessee, for five days of spiritual renewal, networking, movement building workshops, and continuing education about the urgent needs of children at the 19th annual Proctor Institute for Child Advocacy Ministry.
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.childrensdefense.org.
ACTIVIST CAMP - Youth Empowered Action (YEA) Camp will have sessions in July and August in Ben Lomond, CA; Portland, OR; Charlton, MA. YEA Camp is designed for activists 12-17 years old who want to make a difference in the world.
Contact: email@example.com; http://yeacamp.org/.
LA RAZA - The annual National Council of La Raza (NCLR) Conference is scheduled for July 18-19 in New Orleans, with workshops, presentations and panel discussions.
Contact: NCLR Headquarters Office, Raul Yzaguirre Building, 1126 16th Street, NW, Washington, DC 20036; 202-785-1670; www.nclr.org.
LABOR - The Eastern Conference For Workplace Democracy: Growing Our Cooperatives, Growing Our Communities, will be held at Drexel University in Philadelphia, PA, July 26-28.
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; http://east.usworker.coop/.
WOMEN/LYNNE STEWART- Radical Women is asking for support letters and cards to be sent to Lynne Stewart. Stewart is a civil rights attorney and political prisoner who is currently in jail. She has breast cancer and authorities have denied her request for transfer from her Texas prison to the New York City hospital where she received medical attention during a prior bout of breast cancer. Send messages and cards to: Lynne Stewart 53504-054, Federal Medical Center Carswell, P.O. Box 27137, Fort Worth, TX 76127.
Contact: 747 Polk Street, San Francisco, CA 94109; 415-864-1278; RadicalWomenUS@gmail.com; http://lynnestewart.org/; http://www.radicalwomen.org/.
HAITI/WOMEN - Haiti’s government is considering a legal reform measure that would prohibit and punish all sexual assault, including marital rape. MADRE and the International Campaign to Stop Rape & Gender Violence in Conflict are launching a petition to raise international support for this push to address violence against women in Haiti.
Contact: 121 West 27th Street, #301, New York, NY 10001; 212-627-0444; email@example.com; http://www.madre.org.
SYRIA/MIDDLE EAST - The Middle East Children’s Alliance (MECA) is currently seeking funds to assist more than 200,000 refugees fleeing violence in Syria.
FOLK FESTIVAL - The Falcon Ridge Folk Festival will be held August 2-4, in the Berkshires, NY.
Contact: http://www.falconridgefolk.com/; firstname.lastname@example.org.
WAR RESISTERS - The War Resisters League will hold its 90th anniversary conference, Revolutionary Nonviolence: Building Bridges Across Generations and Communities, August 1-4, at Georgetown University. The event will focus on the U.S.’ long history of antimilitarism.
Contact: 339 Lafayette Street, New York, NY 10012; 212-228-0450; email@example.com; http://www.warresisters.org.
POPULAR ECONOMICS - The Center for Popular Economics is holding its 2013 Summer Institute August 4-9 at Hampshire College in Amherst, MA. No background in economics is needed for this intensive training. This year’s theme is, The Care Economy: Building a Just Economy with a Heart.
Contact: Center for Popular Economics, PO Box 785 Amherst, MA 01004; 413-545-0743; firstname.lastname@example.org; www.populareconomics.org.
VETERANS - Veterans for Peace is holding the 28th annual convention August 6-11 in Madison, WI. This year’s theme is, Power To The Peaceful.
DEMOCRACY - The Democracy Convention will take place August 7-11 in Madison, WI. The convention brings together nine conferences including topics such as media, education, defense, race, environment and others.
MEN - The 38th National Conference on Men & Masculinity: Forging Justice: Creating Safe, Equal and Accountable Communities, presented in partnership with HAVEN, will be held in Detroit, MI, August 8-10.
Contact: email@example.com; http://www.nomas.org/.
OCCUPY - An Occupy National Gathering will be held in Kalamazoo, MI, August 21-25.
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; http://occupynationalgathering.net/.
COMMUNITIES - The Communities Conference is a networking and learning opportunity for co-operative or communal lifestyles, with workshops, events and entertainment; scheduled for August 30-September 2 at the Twin Oaks Community in Louisa, Virginia.
LABOR DAY - The 29th annual Bread and Roses Festival, a celebration of the ethnic diversity and labor history of Lawrence, MA, will be held September 2, in honor of the 1912 Bread and Roses Strike. There will be music, dance, poetry, drama, ethnic food, historical demonstrations, walking & trolley tours.
Contact: PO Box 1137, Lawrence, MA 01842; 978-794-1655; http://www.breadandrosesheritage.org/.
OCCUPY WALL STREET - September 17 is the two-year anniversary of the Occupy Wall Street movement. Events are planned in New York City and worldwide.
TEACHERS - The 13th Annual Conference, “Teaching for Social Justice: The Politics of Pedagogy,” will be held October 12 in San Francisco, CA. The free event features workshops, resources, and free childcare.
Contact: 415-676-7844; email@example.com; http://www.t4sj.org/.
HAITI - International Action, which brings clean water and chlorinators to Haiti, seeks office space capable of housing up to six people and their office equipment.
Contact: Zach Bremer, Zbrehmer@haitiwater.org; 202-488-0735; http://www.haitiwater.org/.
MEDIA - The Union for Democratic Communications and Project Censored are sponsoring a joint conference on media democracy, media activism and social justice to be held November 1-3 at the University of San Francisco. Proposals for presentations, workshops and panels from activists and critical scholars are invited.