News

U.K.’s Cameron Meets Labor Unions as Unite Leader Backs Students

–Prime Minister David Cameron met with union leaders today to discuss the economy and cuts to public services as the labor groups plan coordinated action against the government’s deficit-reduction plan. The meeting at Cameron’s London office, which was requested by the unions, came after Len McCluskey, the new leader of Unite, the U.K.’s biggest union, said workers should be inspired by student protests against higher tuition fees. “The magnificent students’ movement urgently needs to find a wider echo if the government is to be stopped,” McCluskey wrote in the Guardian newspaper today. “We have to be preparing for battle.”

The government plans to make ordinary people pay for a crisis caused by bankers, McCluskey wrote, and public-spending cuts, increased charges and job losses require the union movement to defend the welfare state and Britain’s industrial future. The Trades Union Congress will hold a conference early in 2011 to discuss coordinated action, and unions must “rebuild working-class confidence,” McCluskey said.

“We don’t want to see coordinated strike action; we want to engage in a constructive dialogue with the unions,” Cameron’s spokesman, Steve Field, told reporters before the meeting. “We obviously have a different view” on the need for cuts, Field said, “and it’s important that we make our case.” There are no plans to change legislation governing strike action, Field said. McCluskey, who was scheduled to attend today’s meeting, wrote in the Guardian that unions should not allow laws against coordinated action to “paralyze” them.

A demonstration by the TUC on March 26 will be a key stage in developing union members’ willingness to take strike action in defense of jobs and services, the union chief said.

December 30, 2010

Students in Minnesota on hunger strike for DREAM Act

Minneapolis, MN – On Dec. 10, seven students here started a hunger strike to demand that Congress pass the DREAM Act. The DREAM Act is a proposed law that would give some undocumented immigrant youth the possibility to gain legalization if they go to college or join the military.

The students gathered for a vigil the evening of Dec. 10 at El Colegio high school in South Minneapolis to announce the start of the hunger strike and mobilize community support. The hunger strike is based at El Colegio, where students have covered the walls of the school’s gallery with art and murals dedicated to the DREAM Act. Over 40 people came to the kick-off vigil. According to hunger striker Alejandra Cruz, “We decided to start the hunger strike in solidarity with the San Antonio, Texas DREAMers who had gone 31 days with no food. Also to put pressure on the Senate and show them that we are one, we’re together in the same struggle. We believe in our dreams of higher education and to be able to contribute to this society.”

The U.S. House of Representatives passed the DREAM Act last week by a vote of 216-198. The Senate was slated to vote on the DREAM Act the morning after the House vote, but tabled it because there were not enough votes to block the possibility of a Republican filibuster against the bill. While passing the Senate is far from assured, it’s worth noting that this is the first legislation that includes a significant legalization component which has passed in either house of Congress since the 1986 Immigration Reform and Control Act, which among other things granted amnesty to around 3 million undocumented immigrants.

December 23, 2010

College Students Advised Not to Share WikiLeaks Information

Last week, Columbia University’s School of International Public Affairs (SIPA) sent a message to its students, stating that online discourse about the documents “would call into question your ability to deal with confidential information,” as quoted by The New York Times. Days after their original e-mail was sent, SIPA Dean John Coatsworth released a follow-up statement to clarify the school’s stance on freedom of speech.

According to Wired.com, Coastworth said that students have the right to debate any information in the public arena, and they can do so without the fear of adverse consequences from the institution. If the State Department issues any formal polices about WikiLeaks use, the school will pass along that information to its students, he added.

According to Washington Square News, the newspaper at New York University (NYU), some individuals feel that higher education institutions do not have the right to censor their students.”I think [a college warning] is encroaching on our First Amendment rights, and the government should not be doing anything about it because it’s America,” NYU freshman Sneha Banerjee told the news provider.

Government officials clearly believe that college students play an important role in data sharing. In fact, the Army investigated college students from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Boston University last July in connection following the release of classified military information on WikiLeaks. Authorities suspected that several students may have helped Private Bradley Manning share tens of thousands of private documents to the website, according to The New York Times.

December 22, 2010

Turner Prize Ceremony Becomes a Site of Student Resistance

LONDON-Last week’s Turner prize ceremony was the oddest that most regular guests of the annual event can remember. Students and lecturers from London art colleges staged a “teach-in” protest during the day in Tate Britain, in London, where the award was due to be announced in the evening. At closing time, many refused to leave, remaining in the entrance hall.

Later, at the event itself, only a makeshift barrier separated the student protesters from the partygoers in the central gallery of the museum. The students — demonstrating against cuts in public funding to higher education for arts, humanities and social sciences — were invisible but audible, and the talk inside the party, where guests included Britain’s culture minister Ed Vaizey, was of little else. Anjalika Sagar, half of the Otolith Group collective, which was shortlisted for the prize — went outside to give a speech of solidarity to the students and returned clutching a crumpled banner. Nicholas Serota, director of the Tate, also spoke to them sympathetically. And the winner of the US$40,000 prize, Glaswegian Susan Philipsz, whose piece consisted of a recording of her soft and sonorous voice singing a traditional Scottish lament over (Glasgow’s) River Clyde, remembered it the morning after just as an artist who works in sound ought: “It was a surreal experience. The particular acoustics in the gallery made it seem like it was a dream — the way the cheering and the chanting carried.”

Some artists might have felt a little irritated by their moment of glory being so noisily hijacked, but Philipsz is a veteran of the barricades. In her acceptance speech, she expressed her sympathies even if, in the heat of the moment, she blurted out that “education is a privilege not a right,” which might well be taken as an eery prophecy. When we met at Tate Britain the following morning, she corrects herself. “Education is a right not a privilege — as I used to say myself on demos.”

December 16, 2010

Pakistani Students’ Protest enters Third Day

LAHORE: The students’ protest against the privatisation of educational institutes by the Punjab government continued for the third day, a private TV channel reported on Friday. According to reports, students boycotted classes and staged a protest demonstration in Faisalabad. They chanted slogans against the provincial government and its decision to privatise the educational institutes. Enraged students also threw stones at cars, the channel reported. Police subsequently resorted to teargas shelling and baton-charged the students in order to disperse them. Arguments between the police and teachers were also witnessed. Also, students in Vehari, Multan, Mian Channu and other parts of Punjab held protest rallies, the channel reported.

December 13, 2010

Protesters Attack Car Carrying Prince Charles

LONDON — Britain’s coalition government survived the most serious challenge yet to its austerity plans on Thursday when Parliament narrowly approved a sharp increase in college fees. But violent student protests in central London, including an attack on a car carrying Prince Charles and his wife, Camilla, to the theater, provided a stark measure of growing public resistance.

Charles’ office, Clarence House, confirmed the attack but said “their royal highnesses are unharmed.” The confrontation occurred when a group of about 50 protesters, some in full-face balaclavas, broke through a cordon of motorcycle police flanking the car as it approached London’s theater district in slow-speed traffic. Some of the demonstrators shouted “off with their heads!” and others “Tory scum!”

Other violence across the city center continued into the night, with demonstrators trying to smash their way into the Treasury building at the heart of the Whitehall government district with makeshift rams made from steel crowd barriers, shouting “We want our money back!” The protesters set small fires and clashed with riot police officers and mounted units that formed cordons outside government buildings. BBC reporters at the scene wore helmets as the rioters threw shattered blocks of steel-reinforced concrete.

December 10, 2010

National Dance Institute Finds a New Home

A Harlem real estate development will become the new home of the National Dance Institute, which provides dance training for public school children reports Daniel K. Wakin for the New York Times.The institute, currently on Broadway near Houston Street, said on Monday that it would take up residence at P.S. 90, a former school building at 220 West 148th Street between Adam Clayton Powell and Frederick Douglass Boulevards that is being turned into condominiums. The institute, founded in 1976 by the dancer Jacques d’Amboise, said it would have offices and studios at the space and would be able to expand its programs. More than half of the $20 million needed to carry out the project has been raised, the institute said.

December 8, 2010

Day Without Art honors World AIDS Day

The Wisconsin Union Directorate (WUD) Art Committee has organized a Day Without Art today (Dec. 1) in conjunction with the observance of World AIDS Day.

The Day Without Art project began on Dec. 1, 1989. The goal was to strengthen the global response to the challenges of the AIDS pandemic. At that time, many galleries closed or covered their art works in a day of mourning and communities around the world observed the day with silence. Today, more than 6,000 arts communities around the world demonstrate the power of art to raise awareness of AIDS.

The committee selected three areas in the Memorial Union where art works will be covered between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. today. Those locations include the Porter Butts/Class of 1925 gallery, the Lakefront on Langdon gallery and the Theater Gallery. The paintings will be covered with black cloth and there will be information and facts about the AIDS pandemic posted.

The LGBT Campus Center will be putting up a display on the lower third of Bascom Hill tomorrow that will consist of signs promoting awareness about HIV/AIDS. The center is also sponsoring an event in the evening. http://lgbt.wisc.edu/events/

The Chazen Museum of Art will display an untitled print by artist David Wojnarowicz. He created it in 1992, the year in which he died of AIDS-related complications. The print will not be covered due to the powerful image it depicts.

December 2, 2010

Students cause chaos around Italy in cuts protest

Italy-Student protesting against the education reforms have been causing major disruption in the capital, Rome, and other cities as MPs debate a bill on education reform. Rome was brought to a virtual standstill by the Block Everything Day ahead of the vote on spending cuts and time limits on research.

Students argue the cuts breach their right to education. Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi’s faltering government faces two confidence votes next month.
Education Minister Mariastella Gelmini has defended the reform, which is aimed at saving billions of euros over the next two years, and creating a more merit-based system. Students blocked roads and central squares in Rome, and hundreds surrounded the Chamber of Deputies as riot police maintained a tight cordon. Cars were unable to circulate around the city as other students blocked roads and major throughways. Traffic was disrupted in other major cities, from Turin to Palermo, while students blocked the tracks at railway stations in Milan, Pisa and Venice.

In Naples, protesters took advantage of the rubbish collection crisis to throw the debris and rubbish bags lining the streets at the doors of the regional government office, AFP news agency reports. Mr Berlusconi’s government faces confidence votes in both the lower and upper houses of parliament on 14 December. The prime minister says he is optimistic about winning the votes but he has been beset by defections from his coalition and allegations about his behaviour. Recently the prime minister denied improper conduct in the case of a teenage nightclub dancer who was released from a police cell following his intervention.

December 1, 2010

Parsons New School
M.I.T. Program in Art, Culture and Technology
Emily Carr
SACI Florence Italy
SFAI
Polimoda