Thursday, November 15, 2007


What is this, the 60s?

Well, not exactly, but it'll have to do for now.

Students at three universities (Columbia University, the University of California­­-Berkeley, and the University of Massachusetts­-Amherst) went on strike this week to advocate for a variety of causes­—including increasing curricular diversity, reducing student fees, and halting environmentally-unsound campus construction.

At UMass/Amherst even student government leaders urged students to strike to protest a range of grievances they say university administrators have consistently ignored.

"This has been a long time coming," said Jeff Napolitano, president of the Graduate Student Senate at UMass-Amherst. "These are chronic issues that are not being addressed. There really is not any dialogue between the people who run the school and the people who study here."

The strike seems to have widespread support. WBZTV reports about five hundred student protesters shut down the Whitmore administrative building at UMass-Amherst today, demanding an end to high student fees and a resolution to other complaints. Students occupied the building after a noontime rally in the student union ballroom.

Police then closed down the Whitmore building because it was overcrowded.

Napolitano said that after the protesters were threatened with arrest, they moved outside and shut down North Pleasant Street, one of the campus's main roads.

Napolitano said 1000 students were involved in the protest.

The following is from the Boston Globe.

Striking students surge into UMass administration building
By Peter Schworm, Globe Staff, and Katie Huston

AMHERST -- Hundreds of students at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst boycotted classes and surged into the school's administration building today as part of a two-day strike.

Student leaders had called for students and graduate student teaching assistants to skip classes today and Friday to protest increased student fees and aggressive police patrols of dormitories, and to call for stepped-up efforts to recruit minority students.

Around 1 p.m., more than 1,000 students marched from the Student Union and surged into the main administration building, playing drums, trumpets, and cowbells and chanting "Whose university? Our university!"

Joyce Hatch, the vice chancellor for administration and finance, told protesters that the administration would like to negotiate with a group of three student leaders. But student organizer Elvis Mendez said that the demands are ones students have been making for years, and that negotiations have proven ineffective. "It's been four, five years that we have been doing this," he said.

Police eventually blocked more students from entering the building and asked students to evacuate at approximately 2 p.m. Students complied and marched along the main road to the campus center, where they continued the rally.

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