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Sargasso

HIDE
 Front Cover
 Half Title
 Title Page
 Table of Contents
 Introduction
 Works cited
 Chronology of the 2010-2011 UPR...
 Essays
 Poetry
 Special section: From the front...
 Select annotated bibliography of...
 Reviews
 List of contributors
 Back Cover
Digital Library of the Caribbean Universidad de Puerto Rico
MISSING IMAGE

Material Information

Title:
Sargasso
Uniform Title:
Sargasso (Río Piedras, San Juan, P.R.)
Added title page title:
Sargazo
Sargasse
Abbreviated Title:
Sargasso (Río Piedras San Juan P. R.)
Physical Description:
v. : ; 28 cm.
Language:
English
Creator:
University of Puerto Rico (Ri´o Piedras Campus) -- Dept. of English
University of Puerto Rico (Río Piedras Campus) -- Dept. of English
Publisher:
s.n.
Place of Publication:
Ri´o Piedras P.R
Río Piedras, P.R
Creation Date:
2010
Publication Date:
Copyright Date:
1986
Frequency:
twice a year[2002-]
two no. a year[ former 1984]
irregular[ former <1987>-2001]

Subjects

Subjects / Keywords:
Caribbean literature -- Periodicals   ( lcsh )
Caribbean literature -- History and criticism -- Periodicals   ( lcsh )
Puerto Rican literature -- Periodicals   ( lcsh )
Puerto Rican literature -- History and criticism -- Periodicals   ( lcsh )
Genre:
serial   ( sobekcm )
review   ( marcgt )
Spatial Coverage:
Puerto Rico

Notes

Additional Physical Form:
Also issued online.
Language:
Chiefly English, with some French and Spanish.
Dates or Sequential Designation:
Vol. 1, no. 1-no. 10 (2000) ; 2001-
Numbering Peculiarities:
Volume designation dropped with no. 3; issue for 2001 lacks numbering; issues for 2002- called 2002, 1-
Issuing Body:
Edited by the faculty and graduate students of the English Dept., University of Puerto Rico.
General Note:
Title from cover.
General Note:
Some issues have also distinctive titles.
General Note:
Latest issue consulted: 2004-05,2.
General Note:
Has occasional special issues.

Record Information

Source Institution:
University of Puerto Rico
Holding Location:
University of Puerto Rico
Rights Management:
All applicable rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier:
oclc - 12797847
lccn - 85643628
issn - 1060-5533
alephbibnum - 002422411
System ID:
UF00096005:00038

MISSING IMAGE

Material Information

Title:
Sargasso
Uniform Title:
Sargasso (Río Piedras, San Juan, P.R.)
Added title page title:
Sargazo
Sargasse
Abbreviated Title:
Sargasso (Río Piedras San Juan P. R.)
Physical Description:
v. : ; 28 cm.
Language:
English
Creator:
University of Puerto Rico (Ri´o Piedras Campus) -- Dept. of English
University of Puerto Rico (Río Piedras Campus) -- Dept. of English
Publisher:
s.n.
Place of Publication:
Ri´o Piedras P.R
Río Piedras, P.R
Creation Date:
2010
Publication Date:
Copyright Date:
1986
Frequency:
twice a year[2002-]
two no. a year[ former 1984]
irregular[ former <1987>-2001]

Subjects

Subjects / Keywords:
Caribbean literature -- Periodicals   ( lcsh )
Caribbean literature -- History and criticism -- Periodicals   ( lcsh )
Puerto Rican literature -- Periodicals   ( lcsh )
Puerto Rican literature -- History and criticism -- Periodicals   ( lcsh )
Genre:
serial   ( sobekcm )
review   ( marcgt )
Spatial Coverage:
Puerto Rico

Notes

Additional Physical Form:
Also issued online.
Language:
Chiefly English, with some French and Spanish.
Dates or Sequential Designation:
Vol. 1, no. 1-no. 10 (2000) ; 2001-
Numbering Peculiarities:
Volume designation dropped with no. 3; issue for 2001 lacks numbering; issues for 2002- called 2002, 1-
Issuing Body:
Edited by the faculty and graduate students of the English Dept., University of Puerto Rico.
General Note:
Title from cover.
General Note:
Some issues have also distinctive titles.
General Note:
Latest issue consulted: 2004-05,2.
General Note:
Has occasional special issues.

Record Information

Source Institution:
University of Puerto Rico
Holding Location:
University of Puerto Rico
Rights Management:
All applicable rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier:
oclc - 12797847
lccn - 85643628
issn - 1060-5533
alephbibnum - 002422411
System ID:
UF00096005:00038

Table of Contents
    Front Cover
        Front Cover 1
        Front Cover 2
    Half Title
        Page i
        Page ii
    Title Page
        Page iii
        Page iv
    Table of Contents
        Page v
        Page vi
        Page vii
        Page viii
    Introduction
        Page ix
        Page x
        Page xi
        Page xii
        Page xiii
        Page xiv
        Page xv
        Page xvi
        Page xvii
        Page xviii
        Page xix
        Page xx
        Page xxi
        Page xxii
        Page xxiii
        Page xxiv
        Page xxv
        Page xxvi
        Page xxvii
        Page xxviii
        Page xxix
    Works cited
        Page xxx
        Page xxxi
        Page xxxii
    Chronology of the 2010-2011 UPR student strikes
        Page xxxiii
        Page xxxiv
        Page xxxv
        Page xxxvi
        Page xxxvii
        Page xxxviii
        Page xxxix
        Page xl
        Page xli
        Page xlii
        Page xliii
        Page xliv
        Page xlv
        Page xlvi
    Essays
        Page 1
        Page 2
        Page 3
        Page 4
        Page 5
        Page 6
        Page 7
        Page 8
        Page 9
        Page 10
        Page 11
        Page 12
        Page 13
        Page 14
        Page 15
        Page 16
        Page 17
        Page 18
        Page 19
        Page 20
        Page 21
        Page 22
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        Page 24
        Page 25
        Page 26
        Page 27
        Page 28
        Page 29
        Page 30
        Page 31
        Page 32
        Page 33
        Page 34
        Page 35
        Page 36
        Page 37
        Page 38
        Page 39
        Page 40
        Page 41
        Page 42
        Page 43
        Page 44
        Page 45
        Page 46
        Page 47
        Page 48
        Page 49
        Page 50
        Page 51
        Page 52
        Page 53
        Page 54
        Page 55
        Page 56
        Page 57
        Page 58
        Page 59
        Page 60
    Poetry
        Page 61
        Page 62
        Page 63
        Page 64
        Page 65
        Page 66
        Page 67
        Page 68
        Page 69
        Page 70
    Special section: From the front lines
        Page 71
        Page 72
        Page 73
        Page 74
        Page 75
        Page 76
        Page 77
        Page 78
        Page 79
        Page 80
        Page 81
        Page 82
        Page 83
        Page 84
        Page 85
        Page 86
        Page 87
        Page 88
        Page 89
        Page 90
    Select annotated bibliography of URP strike and crisis
        Page 91
        Page 92
        Page 93
        Page 94
        Page 95
        Page 96
        Page 97
        Page 98
        Page 99
        Page 100
        Page 101
        Page 102
        Page 103
        Page 104
        Page 105
        Page 106
        Page 107
        Page 108
        Page 109
        Page 110
    Reviews
        Page 111
        Page 112
        Page 113
        Page 114
        Page 115
        Page 116
        Page 117
        Page 118
        Page 119
        Page 120
        Page 121
        Page 122
        Page 123
        Page 124
        Page 125
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        Page 128
        Page 129
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        Page 133
        Page 134
        Page 135
        Page 136
        Page 137
        Page 138
        Page 139
        Page 140
        Page 141
        Page 142
    List of contributors
        Page 143
        Page 144
        Page 145
        Page 146
        Page 147
        Page 148
    Back Cover
        Back Cover 1
        Back Cover 2
Full Text




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SARGASSO
I M 2011-12, I

















SARGASSO
S2011-12, I
PUBLIC EDUCATION:
CRISIS AND DIALOGUE AT THE
UNIVERSITY OF PUERTO RICO









SARGASSO 2011-2012, 1
Public Education: Crisis and Dialogue at the University of Puerto Rico

Sargasso, a peer-reviewed journal of literature, language, and culture edited at the University of
Puerto Rico, publishes critical essays, interviews, book reviews, and some poems and short stories.
Sargasso particularly welcomes material written by/about the people of the Caribbean region and
its multiple diasporas. Unless otherwise specified, essays and critical studies should conform to
the guidelines of the MLA Handbook. Short stories should be kept to no more than 2,500 words
in length, and poems should be kept to thirty lines. All postal mail should include a S.A.S.E. See
http://humanidades.uprrp.edu/ingles/pubs/sargasso.htm for more information. For inquiries or
electronic submission, write to: sargassojournal@gmail.com.

Postal Address:

SARGASSO
P.O. Box 22831, UPR Station
San Juan, Puerto Rico 00931-2831

Maritza Stanchich, Issue Editor

Don E. Walicek, Editor
Lowell Fiet, Founding Editor
Maria Cristina Rodriguez, Book Review Editor
Aileen Diaz, Administrative Assistant
Natalia Vdzquez Torres, Proofreading
Rosa Garay, Spanish Proofreading
Cristina Otano, PREI intern
Editorial Board
Jessica Adams, Independent Scholar
Mary Ann Gosser-Esquilin, Florida Atlantic University
Eduardo Perez Montijo, University of Puerto Rico, Arecibo
Peter Roberts, University of the West Indies, Cave Hill
Ivette Romero, Marist College
Felipe Smith, Tulane University

Miguel Mufoz, President of the University of Puerto Rico
Ana R. Guadalupe Quinones, Chancellor, Rio Piedras Campus
Luis A. Ortiz L6pez, Dean of Humanities

Layout: Marcos Pastrana
Front and back cover images: Camilo Carri6n

For journal information and purchase and subscription form visit Sargasso:
http://humanidades.uprrp.edu/ingles/pubs/sargasso.htm


Opinions and views expressed in Sargasso are those of the individual authors and are not necessarily
shared by Sargassoi Editorial Board members. All rights return to authors. This journal is indexed by
HAPI, Latindex, MLA, and the Periodical Contents Index. Copies of Sargasso 2011-2012, I as well as
previous issues, are on deposit in the Library of Congress. Filed January 2013. ISSN 1060-5533.








Table of Contents




INTRODUCTION
Maritza Stanchich
University Besieged: Dimensions, Contexts, Stakes ix

Alessandra Rosa
Chronology of the 2010-2011 UPR Student Strikes XXXilI

ESSAYS
Fernando Pic6
University and Society in Puerto Rico 3

James Seale Collazo
Lessons of a Student Strike-A Pedagogical Perspective 9

Carlos Pab6n
Fungir como docentes 23

Giovanni Roberto
De cuando elbarrio entr6 a la UPR 31

Katherine Everhart
Learning to Protest, Finding my Voice: Accompaniment
in the University of Puerto Rico Student Movement 39

Ricardo Alcaraz Diaz (photo essay)
On the Ground and in the World: As Public Higher Education
Faces Cuts Globally, UPR Students Resist 54

POETRY
Martin Espada
The Rowboat 63
Like A Word That Somersaults Through the Air 65
Walking 66


Public Education: Crisis and Dialogue at the University of Puerto Rico





TABLE OF CONTENTS


J.D. Capiello-Ortiz
UPR 2011 68

SPECIAL SECTION: FROM THE FRONT LINES 73
Alessandra Rosa
Natasha Lycia Ora Bannan
Ver6nica Mufiiz-Soto
Waldemiro Vl6ez Cardona
Ivan Chaar-L6pez
Ruben Soto Falc6n
Victor R. Castro G6mez
Christie Capetta Suro
Edgardo Daviu
Zorimar Rivera Montes

SELECT ANNOTATED BIBLIOGRAPHY OF UPR STRIKE AND CRISIS 91

REVIEWS

Priya Parrotta Natarajan
Against War: Views from the Underside of Modernity by
Nelson Maldonado Torres 113

Milagros Rivera
Sweetheart by Alecia McKenzie 118

Maria Soledad Rodriguez
Running the Dusk by Christian Campbell
Far District by Ishion Hutchinson 120

Ivette Romero
Founding Fictions of the Dutch Caribbean: Carel de Haseth's Slave
and Master (Katibu di Shon) by Olga E. Rojer and
Joseph O. Aimone 122


SARGASSO 2011-12,1





TABLE OF CONTENTS

Dorsia Smith
Four books of poetry published by Peepal Tree Press 127

Maritza Stanchich
The Trouble Ball by Martin Espada 134


LIST OF CONTRIBUTORS 143


Public Education: Crisis and Dialogue at the University of Puerto Rico












INTRODUCTION

UNIVERSITY BESIEGED: DIMENSIONS, CONTEXTS, STAKES


Maritza Stanchich
University of Puerto Rico, Rio Piedras




Witnessing the decline of US global hegemony from the collapsing
economy of one of its colonies offers a particularly revelatory lens, as
does engagement in the struggle against the assault on public higher education
by free market fundamentalism from just such a location. In Puerto Rico, a
first-term governor with a legislative majority seeks to vanquish the mission of
Puerto Rico's perhaps most important social project of the twentieth century-its
large, prestigious state university, with eleven campuses, and graduate programs
in a wide range of disciplines. To open this issue of Sargasso on the historic
2010-11 student strikes at University of Puerto Rico, I offer a retrospective
analysis, situating the strikes in three broad contextual intersections: local,
federal,' and global. All of these I hope resonate with Sargasso readers for the
regional implications as well, for such major public university strikes can be
"deadly, transfigurative, transformative watershed moments for nation states
or semi-states in the region," as Michaeline Crichlow has noted.2 These local,
federal, and global forces now come together during a historic economic
and political crisis in Puerto Rico while led by a governor with an aggressive
neoliberal economic and pro US statehood agenda. As in the US and other
countries, such an agenda includes the privatization, corporatization, and state


SI use "federal" instead of "national" to distinguish the US from Puerto Rico as US
territory, which of course is not a US state, a contested and divisive issue, especially for
those who consider Puerto Rico a nation, now with renewed tensions as a fourth status
plebiscite is set for November 2012.
2 Dr. Michaeline Crichlow made this comment when introducing a talk I gave on the
UPR crisis at Duke University April 12, 2012. The example she offered was the 1968
unrest at University of the West Indies in Mona, Jamaica, sparked by the prohibition
against Walter Rodney's return there.


Public Education: Crisis and Dialogue at the University of Puerto Rico





INTRODUCTION


abandonment of accessible, quality public universities, as well as concerted
assaults on public sector labor unions, led in the US by the US Republican
Party and its backers. Both serve as models for local policy in Puerto Rico, as
neoliberal economic agendas now expand and are domesticated in countries
of the global North.
The UPR strikes and protests that began in April 2010 -with students
shutting down and occupying ten of eleven campuses for sixty-two days in a
system that at the time served 65,000 students- diminished about a year later
after harrowing months of violent police and riot squad repression, with more
than 200 students brutally arrested, and later released from jails uncharged. In
December 2010, police occupied the flagship Rio Piedras campus for the first
time in thirty-one years, ending the longstanding non-confrontation policy,
which was adopted to promote dialogue and prohibit police interventions in
campus conflicts after fatal confrontations three decades earlier. The repression
this time was so severe as to later prompt legal interventions from the US
Department of Justice and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), one
of the most credible and long-standing civil rights organizations in the US.
Both reports contend that mass brutal and unwarranted arrests of student
protesters produced a "chilling effect" designed to repress free speech and
expression in violation of constitutional rights (ACLU 61).
UPR students began the April-June 2010 campus occupations over
cancelled tuition waivers and feared privatization of some of the university's
.eleven campuses. The campus occupations captured Puerto Rico's mass
media, public discourse, and civic activity, replete with marches, concerts, art
collectives staging street theater, round-the-clock debate on new online social
media forums, the planting of organic gardens, continued academic life on
and off campuses, and myriad other forms of community interest and support.
This phase of the protracted struggle ended with a court-mediated accord
that met key student demands; however, the agreement was quickly violated
when the governor expanded the university's Board of Trustees from 13 to 17
members, which later imposed a $800 yearly student fee, a $400 per semester
increase representing a nearly 50 percent hike in tuition. While the UPR
administration purchased full-page ads in daily newspapers representing UPR
as the cheapest public university in the US, the hike was nevertheless seen as
a burden on working families whose average yearly incomes are far lower than
in any US state (the 2010 US Census reports median income in Puerto Rico
at $18,862 per year, compared to Mississippi, West Virginia and Arkansas,


SARGASSO 2011-12, 1






INTRODUCTION


about double that at $36,851, $38,218 and $38,307, respectively). A second-
stage strike and protests in December 2010 over the imposition of the fee
(or la cuota in Spanish) quickly grew to also encompass free speech and civil
rights, and more broadly, the right to accessible quality public education, in
unison with historic student unrest worldwide not seen since 1968. The latter
movements took place in the Dominican Republic, California, London, Italy
and later Colombia, Chile, Guyana, and Quebec, for example.
Locally, the UPR student strikes responded to the UPR administration's
policies and management style, as linked to the economic policies -and
ideology- of Governor Luis Fortufio, a self-described Reaganite (though today
Reagan's policies may seem relatively mild). Fortufio presides over Puerto Rico's
worst economic crisis since the 1930s, which has been brewing for decades,
a sign of the decline of the Estado Libre Asociado or Free Associated State
economic development model ushered in by Puerto Rico's pro-commonwealth
Popular Democratic Party in 1952. Because of widespread discontent directed
at the previous Popular Democratic Party governor, Fortufio's New Progressive
Party, which favors Puerto Rico's annexation as the fifty-first US state, won a
broad election mandate, including a state legislative majority with key leaders
from the right-wing flank of the party.
Now the Fortufio administration faces crises on numerous fronts. Indicators
of the gravity of the crisis include a 46 percent poverty rate (by US standards,
more than double that of Mississippi); 16 percent unemployment (with less
than 40 percent labor participation in the formal economy);3 skyrocketing
crime and narco-trafficking (with a murder rate now higher per capital than
Mexico, among the highest five in the Caribbean);4 and a drop in population,
as a historic exodus of professionals is underway (rivaling the working class
post-war migration of one-third of the population during the era of Luis
Mufioz Marin, who became Puerto Rico's first elected governor in 1948). The
pronounced Dominican immigration of recent decades has also reduced, and

3 G6mez, Antonio R. "En descenso la participaci6n laboral boricua". Primera Hora. 23
abril 2012. 20 junio 2012. oralboricua-638849.html>. Web.
4 The United Nations in June 2012 ranked Puerto Rico as having the fifth highest mur-
der rate in the Caribbean, with 26.2 homicides per 100,000 of the population; Jamaica
was listed highest at 52.1 homicides, followed by St. Kitts and Nevis with 38.2, Trinidad
and Tobago with 35.2 and Bahamas with 28. "Ubican a Puerto Rico entire las islas mis
peligrosas del Caribe". Primera Hora. 21 de junio 2012. ubicanapuertoricoentrelasislasmaspeligrosasdelcaribe-661904.html>. Web.


Public Education: Crisis and Dialogue at the University of Puerto Rico





INTRODUCTION


economic analysts have dubbed Puerto Rico "America's Greece."5 The UPR
protests, as with the 2009 strike in Guadeloupe, are an example of struggles
linked to broad public discontent.
Months after assuming office, citing an economic emergency, Fortufio
passed a contentious emergency law ("la Ley 7") that fired 26,000 public
employees and nullified public sector contracts for three years. He has also
expanded the Supreme Court; fast-tracked a gas pipeline to run through two
thirds of the country without public hearings or the usual environmental
protocols and with a key contract awarded to a close friend;6 slashed budgets
at particular social and cultural agencies (while leaving others intact) as if
targeting perceived enemies; 7 and has taken advantage of party power and a
longstanding dispute to dismantle the Colegio deAbogados, the bar association
founded in 1840 and known for its civil rights advocacy. Police brutality and
corruption, always a problem, has proven rampant, prompting the largest FBI
sting in history (with 133 police charged in 2010), a scathing report by the US
Justice Department (curious considering its long history of repression against
the independence movement) and a federal lawsuit for civil rights violations
by the American Civil Liberties Union, which issued its own report.8 In
addition, a new police chief, H6ctor Pesquera, has been appointed; he is career

s Long, Cate. "Puerto Rico is America's Greece." Reuters. 8 March 2012. 19 June 2012.

Web. Follow up by same author: "An Open Letter to Governor Luis Fortufio." Reu-
ters. 13 March 2012. 19 June 2012. an-open-letter-to-puerto-rican-governor-fortuno/>. Web.
6 Alvarez, Lizette. "Puerto Rico's Plan for Gas Pipeline has Many Critics." The New
York Times. 21 October 2011. 18 June 2012. < http://www.nytimes.com/2011/10/22/us/
puerto-ricos-plan- for-gas-pipeline-has-many-critics.html?pagewanted=all>. Web.
7 For example, students at the Escuela deArtes Pldsticas in Old San Juan also went on strike
in May 2010 over an 89 percent budget cut that Law 7 applied to their long-standing art
school. They camped out at El Morro fortress, marched, and held artistic and cultural
events. Primera Hora. "Escuela de Artes Plasticas decreta un paro acad6mico". 17 May
2010. 387916.html> Web.
8 US Department of Justice. "Department of Justice Releases Investigative Findings on
the Puerto Rico Police Department." Office of Public Affairs. 8 September 2011. www.justice.gov/opa/pr/2011/September/11-crt-1151.html>.Web. Also American Civil
Liberties Union. "Island of Impunity: Puerto Rico's Outlaw Police Force." 18 June 2012.
ricos-outlaw-police-force>. Web. Puerto Rico's Police Department is the second largest
in the US, only surpassed in size by New York City with double the island's population.
For 14 of the past 18 years, police superintendents have come from the FBI, which
perhaps reflects a police force founded as a paramilitary arm of US colonial repression.


SARGASSO 2011-12,1






INTRODUCTION


FBI, as have been most police superintendents for the past two decades, and is
tied to Miami's extreme right Cuban exile community. Fortufio's policies seem
designed to bring the country to its knees to beg for statehood in the status
plebiscite set for November 2012.
The first student strike sustained a broad coalition across political
and socio-economic sectors- with everything from statehood party supporters
blocking entrances, athletes donning sports team shirts, and musicians playing
instruments at protests to occupation camps representing distinct college
cultures. This UPR strike was also distinguished from those previous by street
theater, rainbow flags, organic gardens, and social media activity. Rather than
one key leader, a diverse group of leaders comprised negotiating teams, rallied
students and addressed the media, including female spokespersons such as
Xiomara Caro and Adriana Mulero Claudio. The second strike, however,
looked less like a strike and more like ongoing daily protests, as participants
of the broader coalition had grown tired and worried, with fissures among
those who criticized another campus closure as a tactic, although the vast
majority of students still supported the movement's demands and rejected
the newly imposed fee. While street theater and supporters such as members
of the Asociacidn Puertorriqueia de Profesores Universitarios (or APPU)
remained visible during this second phase, heavily armed police, riot squad
and even SWAT teams, including motorcycle and mounted police, often far
outnumbered protestors.These protests attracted more militant yet fragmented
student groups from the Left, with at least six pro-independence student
groups active: Organizacidn Socialista Internacional (OSI), Union deJuventud
Socialistas (UJS), Movimiento Socialista de Trabajadores (MST), Movimiento al
Socialismo (MAS), La Federacidn de Universitarios Pro Independecia (FUPI) and
the Juventud del Partido Independentista Puertorriqueio (JUPIP). These groups
and the Fortufio administration are sworn arch enemies, and the showdown
something of a blood feud harkening back to the Cold War, which of course
was hardly cold in Latin and Central America and the Caribbean.9 When
Fortufio's chief of staff Marcos Rodriguez Ema commented to the local press
that UPR student leaders should get their asses kicked off campus ("sacarfa a

The last assassinations of pro-independence student activists in 1978, at Cerro Mara-
villa mountain, occurred during the administration of pro-statehood Governor Carlos
Romero Barcel6, who is still active in the party and public life (and, incidentally, a US
Democrat). President of the UPR Board of Trustees during the recent strikes, Ygri Ri-
vera, served the Romero Barcel6 administration in the area of security.


Public Education: Crisis and Dialogue at the University of Puerto Rico





INTRODUCTION


patadas"),'0 he was openly provoking violence. Yet while UPR is demonized
as one of the few spaces in the country where pro-independence dissent has
been historically cultivated, its enduring legacy as a project of the neo-colonial
pro-commonwealth Popular Democratic Party presents a larger obstacle to
US statehood. With all its historical contradictions (since past administrators
appointed by the Popular Democratic Party also repressed Independentistas in
the institution), UPR remains one of the chief conduits of social mobility in
the country.
Stateside, Fortufio's draconian austerity, anti-labor, and anti-environmental
policies, right out of the US Republican Party and global neoliberal playbook,
have made him a darling of the US Republican Party." Fortufio was even
floated as a potential Mitt Romney vice presidential candidate by strategists of
the Republican Party,12 which desperately needs right wing Spanish-speaking
leaders to shore up eroding support from US Latino voters to compensate
for its anti-immigrant rhetoric. This is especially urgent now that 45 percent
of the US Latino vote is needed to win the White House, and with about
850,000 Puerto Ricans now in Florida, the most important state on the US
electoral map, with many of voting age affiliated in the past with Fortufio's
party. Because Fortufio has long been active in Republican Party and right
wing conservative groups and activities,13 it would come as no surprise if the
aforementioned Ley 7 was in a sense a rehearsal -convenient since Puerto
Rico is largely invisible to US media- for Republican Governor Scott Walker's
notorious anti-public sector union busting law in Wisconsin, which sparked

10 Diaz Alcaide, Maritza. "Marcos Rodriguez Ema dice que sacaria a patadas a los li-
deres estudiantiles de la UPR". Primera Hora. 2 diciembre 2010. hora.com/marcosrodriguezema diceque sacariaapatadasaloslideresestudiantilesdelaupr-
449607.html>. Web.
Some statehood party leaders, including among the most right wing, are US Demo-
crats. Among them are some moderate statehood politicians, such as Fortufio's running
mate, the Resident Commissioner Pedro Pierluisi. As one peer reviewer noted, this party
covers all the bases, which is much more strategic than ideological, thus making it all the
more dangerous.
12 This includes Grover Nordquist to Newsweek magazine as noted by The Daily Beast
(November 2009), The Wall Street Journal (December 2011), and Fortuto interviews
with Newt Gingrich on Texas GOP Vote online (June 2010), on Fox News (July 2010),
and on CNN with Wolf Blitzer (March 2012), as well as on blogs. The CNN video is
on YouTube: .
13 Including the National Governors Association, Southern Governors Association, The
Heritage Foundation, among others.


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INTRODUCTION


massive protests and led to an unsuccessful recall election, an option not
available in Puerto Rico. With a "tough but necessary" stance, Fortufio is
clearly aligning local policy with these forces.
Puerto Rico and the UPR strikes and crisis also intersect with current US
policy and practices in the proliferation of private, including for-profit, higher
education and an impending student loan debt crisis said to rival the mortgage
debacle behind the worst US economic crisis since the Great Depression.14
Private for-profit US colleges, such as Phoenix University -which also operates
in Puerto Rico- and lesser-known institutions, target so-called minority
students and charge relatively exorbitant tuitions for which students assume
insurmountable debt in programs with low graduation rates and poor job
placement. While Puerto Rico's long-standing private universities have served
an important function for students not at UPR, local private non-profit colleges,
such as the Ana G. Mendez University System (run by the late founder's son),
on whose Board of Directors Fortufio previously sat, stand to gain from the so
far successful attempts to shrink the UPR student body. As was predicted by the
UPR administration, about 10,000 of the 65,000 students attending UPR before
the strike left after the $800 fee was imposed. And fewer students mean fewer
course offerings, widespread firings of contingent faculty, and professors in areas
with large drops in enrollment being reassigned elsewhere in the system. While
profit and non-profit signal important distinctions, some education barons reap
US federal Pell grants and federally guaranteed student loans that taxpayers pay
when students default on the only debt that bankruptcy cannot clear (except
in rare circumstances), according to rules adopted by the George W. Bush
administration. In addition, private student loans have grown significantly, more
than 12 percent of all student lending as of 2012, up from about 3 percent in the
early 2000s (McClanahan 59, citing College Board, Trends in StudentAid, 2008,
www.trends.collegeboard.org/student_aid). And significant cuts to federal Pell
grants went into effect in 2012, affecting about a third of the 66 percent of
UPR students who receive them, or 13,000 of 38,000 UPR students.15 In April
2012 -about one year after the UPR student strikes ended- US student loan

14 After 2010 US Congressional hearings were held on the potential crisis related to stu-
dent aid for private colleges, US Senator Dick Durban (D-Ill.) gave a speech titled "For-
profit Colleges and Federal Student Aid: Preventing Financial Abuses" to the National
Press Club on June 30, 2010. Text of speech: cfm/statementscommentary?ID=2f8e0201-c43d-4dae-8013-f668e2fdb7c4>. Web.
15 Delgado, Jos6 A."En la balanza miles de becas Pell". ElNzievo Dfa. 21 abril 2012. 34.


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INTRODUCTION


debt reached $1 trillion, exceeding the country's credit card debt. In cultures
like Puerto Rico's and Quebec's the very idea of becoming indebted for a
university education is anathema, and that sense is now spreading to places
such as the US, previously accustomed to incurring some debt for higher
education. While calls are issued for debt forgiveness, student movements
have mobilized in the US and internationally around debt refusal.16 In Puerto
Rico, those in arrears of federal student loan debt are ineligible for federally
subsidized housing (known as Section 8).
The link between the student loan debt crisis and the privatization of
public universities stems from skyrocketing tuition increases combined with
federal and private loans being administered by private intermediaries, as was
the case in the US mortgage crisis. Annie McClanahan explicates this in an
issue dedicated to the global crisis in higher education of the UC-Berkeley
based journal Qui Parle (20.1 Fall/Winter 2011):

...the securitization of student debt (the transfer of credit relationships
to speculative markets) and the privatization of public higher education
(the astronomical increase in tuition) are part of the same process, just as
the increase in housing prices had everything to do with the availability of
cheap mortgages, itself a consequence of the securitization of that credit on
speculative markets. (60)

As with the US mortgage crisis, this could further destabilize swaths of the
middle and lower-middle class, especially recent arrivals, many of whom are
people, of color and first and second generation North American youth from
immigrant families (some from the Caribbean of course). Indeed student
loans and spikes in higher education costs have turned into predatory lending
targeting so-called minorities, once again all for the sake of massive profit. It's
no accident to my mind that the neoliberal economic conditions and austerity
measures imposed for decades on purposefully under-developed countries
now attack middle class social mobility domestically in a northern hemisphere
demographically and irreversibly reshaped by immigration,17 including that


16 EduFactory's online forum for international mobilization cogently articulates its
Campaign Against Debt < http://www.edu-factory.org/edul5/index.php?option=com
content&view= article&id=356>.
17 For example, in California, the 2000 Census showed whites in the minority for first
time since 1850.


SARGASSO 2011-12, 1






INTRODUCTION


of large multi-national Caribbean diasporas, in New York, Miami, Atlanta,
Quebec, to name a few obvious locations.
The burgeoning literature critiquing the crisis in US public higher
education also rings crystalline from the vantage point of the University of
Puerto Rico.18 With an increasing reliance on professors working on contract
(37 percent at UPR-RP before recent layoffs19 and 70 percent nationwide in
the US) and post-tenure review close to a fait accompli in many institutions
including UPR, academic freedom is clearly under threat.20 And as Edward J.
Carvalho and David Downing argue, citing this literature, academic freedom
impacts relations between knowledge and power, epistemology and politics,
and freedom and oppression in any society, with academic freedom, shared
governance, and tenure functioning together as foundational supports (1, 9).
Of all disciplines, those in the Humanities appear to be particularly
vulnerable. After the State University of New York-Albany closed three
language programs as well as Classics and theater in 2010, whole areas in
the Humanities appear in danger of becoming obsolete. With Social Sciences
perhaps more valued for its instrumentalist uses, the drive to produce
principally market-driven knowledge and skills at public universities presents
an additional corporate plunder of the government coffers funded mostly
by middle class taxpayers, though a sharp decline of US state funding for
public universities has been seen for years. In 2008, the prestigious German
Department at University of Southern California was dismantled, and for
2010-2011 the Republican governor of Pennsylvania cut higher education state


18 See Cary Nelson's No University is an Island: Saving Academic Freedom (New York
University Press 2010), and Henry A. Giroux's Education and the Crisis of Public Values
(Peter Lang 2011), as well as his articles on the website Truthout, among others. For
a sweeping yet thorough review of 12 recent books on this subject, see Deresiewicz,
William. "Faulty Towers: The Crisis in Higher Education." The Nation. 4 May 2011.
16 June 2012. education?page=0,3>. Web.
19 "En el period del ano acadcmico 1999-2000 existia un 29% del profesorado sin plaza
y actualmente en el afio acad6mico 2006-2007 es un 37%." Asociaci6n Puertorriquefia
de Profesores Universitarios. "Amenazada la calidad academica en la UPR por falta
significativa de plazas de docentes". Comunicado de Prensa. 4 de octubre de 2006.
20 For a working definition of academic freedom, see American Association of University
Professors: . See also Cary Nelson's No University is an Island:
Saving Academic Freedom (New York: NYU Press, 2010).


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INTRODUCTION


funding by 50 percent, the single biggest higher education cut in the history
of US higher education, prompting Humanities leaders there to assume even
more defensive positions.21 At UPR in January 2011, nine programs on the
Rio Piedras campus (including some in Humanities and Education), and 22
system wide, were unilaterally deemed "on pause," then a nonexistent status
in regulations, and a precursor to being placed on moratorium (a legal way to
fire tenured faculty), though said to be giving programs a chance to regroup.22
A bureaucratic process for getting programs off pause ensued, and while the
programs placed on this "pause" hope to be improved as a result, criteria for
placing future programs on pause are now in place.
In the firestorm of controversy that ensued after the June 2012 firing
(and subsequent reappointment) of University of Virginia president Teresa
Sullivan, it was revealed that the chancellor there orchestrated Sullivan's
ouster in part for not moving fast enough to cut programs, including
Classics and German.23 Her firing was also linked to a new call for equity
student lending, which would remove student loans from the government
sector, and subject interest rates to market dictates rather than standardizing
them across the board; for example, the Harvard MBA is seen as paying too
much interest, and the community college creative writing poetry major
paying too little. Attaching risk to areas of study would then help more
swiftly eliminate programs deemed not to be cost effective in the short
run, their potential value and unknown future demand be damned, which
seems especially myopic for the study of languages.24 Of course the study
of arts, literatures, and languages will continue to thrive at elite US private
institutions, as global ruling classes require cultural capital, intimating that
such knowledge -as well as the critical thinking, reading and writing skills



21 Michael Berube in "The Futility of the Humanities" (Qui Parle: Critical Humanities
and Social Sciences. 20.1 Fall/Winter 2011. 95-107).
22 In the English Department at the College of Humanities, which also runs a doctoral
program in Caribbean literature and linguistics, two of three undergraduate programs
appeared on this list, which faculty learned of through press reports.
23 De Vise, Daniel and Anita Kumar. "U-Va Faculty Senate Holds Meeting Sunday on
Sullivan's Ouster." The Washington Post. 17 June 2012.
24 Levitin, Adam. "Equity Financing of Higher Education." Credit Slips. 18 June 2012.
< http://www.creditslips.org/creditslips/2012/06/equity-financing-of-higher-education.
html>. Web.


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xviii






INTRODUCTION


it produces- is no longer a broader social ideal to cultivate in increasingly
culturally heterogeneous populations.
As a social project, UPR attracted me as a professor precisely because of
characteristics that did not fit with the US models of public higher universities
of the past decade, or at least seemed slow in adopting its worst features, such
as class size and student-teacher ratios in the Humanities of twenty to one,
important for effective pedagogy and the development of social relationships
between students and professors. The University of California, which a
recently proposed university reform by the Fortufio administration openly
emulates, by the late 1990s boasted smallest classes of 65 students, and largest
at 500, with an average of 120, and this in Humanities. And this before a
series of tuition hikes -as high as 32 percent in November 2009- in which
student protests and building occupations were met with police repression. In
addition, half the professors were adjuncts (with doctorates and- published),
often teaching at multiple campuses and institutions to make ends meet,
and the cheap labor of teaching assistants was responsible for the majority
of grading and smaller group discussions (by 2003, some courses used senior
undergraduates as teaching assistants, working for credit, hence paying the
institution to perform their labor).The rapidly degrading conditions professors
and adjuncts labor under where such practices have been widely adopted also
of course erode the quality of education. Were it not for the physical space
limitations of Humanities classrooms at UPR right now, such a model would
likely be adopted faster, and arrangements are currently being made for larger
teaching spaces. I detail this because these are also the conditions Caribbean
scholars and Caribbean Studies programs and courses face, in the US academy
and at UPR, still one of the largest universities in the region.
The UPR administration's move to adopt negative models in the US
academy may be a relatively recent development, yet this latest intervention
against the institution's putative autonomy echoes the history of UPR and
its conflicts, which shows how administrations have always been inherently
linked to Puerto Rico's colonial relationship to the US and its intermediary
local political parties (Pab6n 1982, Navarro Rivera 2000, Reynolds 1989).
Indeed, a sense of the institution being hijacked and steamrolled by the
Fortufio administration remains, as the UPR crisis also reflects its governance.
After the April-June 2010 strike, the university's US accreditation agency, the
Middles States Commission on Higher Education, placed ten campuses on
probation in this area for a year, emphasizing the need for "shared" governance


Public Education: Crisis and Dialogue at the University of Puerto Rico





INTRODUCTION


and more transparent communication across sectors. Leading into the second
strike, top university officials repeatedly fanned fears in the local media that
accreditation would be lost if protests shut down the university, even though
Middle States had characterized the April 2010 strike as a symptom rather
than a cause of UPR's problems. And though Middle States eventually lifted
the probation, such a determination remains questionable when the Chancellor
evades the Academic Senate, the chief elected governing body, regarding
the most pressing or contested issues. Top-down, autocratic corporate style
management may work at the US Military Academy at West Point, but is not at
a large public university. As Pablo Navarro Rivera notes, university governance
is determined by philosophical, ideological, and political considerations that
precede organizational and structural considerations (17).
Since the UPR student strikes ended, Governor Fortufio appointed
an external commission to reform UPR, with high ranking members from
the pharmaceutical industry; the aforementioned Ana G. Mend6z private
university; the notorious ex president of the Board of Trustees during the
strike, Ygri Rivera; a former UPR president openly hostile to the institution,
who has published attacks reminiscent of McCarthyism in the local press;
and one senior professor from the Natural Sciences, likely acting as a
statehood party apparatchik. The commission's recommendations, issued
in January 2012, would eliminate student and faculty representation on the
UPR Board of Trustees, replace the governing functions of the Academic
Senate to solely an advisory role and sharply reduce its student representation,
institutionalize a caste system of tenured and non-tenured faculty with one to
five-year appointments and conditioned tenure. The report also demonizes
the Humanities and Social Sciences, reproducing the rhetoric of Lynn V.
Cheney, the wife of former US Vice President Dick Cheney, who headed the
US National Endowment of Humanities in the 1990s and then published
a polemical book about how progressive disciplines and postmodernism in
particular represent a fundamental assault on "truth" and US culture.25 This
despite the broadly heterogeneous character of the Humanities at UPR,
though locally it has been historically recognized as a bulwark to shore up
Spanish as the national language, in response to failed US colonial education


25 Cheney, Lynne V. Telling the Truth: Why Our Culture and Our Country Have Stopped
Making Sense-and What We Can Do About It. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1995.
16-17.


SARGASSO 2011-12, 1






INTRODUCTION


policies during the first half of the twentieth century to transform Puerto
Rico into an English-speaking populace, with all public schools teaching all
subjects in English.
Taking into account all these contexts at the time of the UPR strikes
and in retrospect, and without romanticizing or being uncritical of the UPR
student movement in all its facets, its opposition to these forces in the face of
brute state repression was heroic. They confronted billy clubs, pepper spray,
tear gas, brutal arrests, rubber bullets, Tasers, suspension and expulsion from
the university, and potential future political and employment discrimination
against them and their family members, which has a rampant history in
Puerto Rico. During the campus occupations of the first strike, police
attacked parents trying to the bring food and water to their children, and
on May 20, 2010 attacked students, labor activists and even the elderly who
had gathered to protest the governor at a fundraiser at the Sheraton Hotel
near the San Juan Convention Center. About a month later on June 30, as
students, faculty members, and other civic groups and individuals gathered
at the state capitol to peacefully protest a senate ban of the press during
budget hearings, police attacked with steel tipped batons and pepper spray
while tear gas was sprayed from helicopters, injuring dozens, some seriously
(the ACLU later reported that the tear gas used in these protests has been
considered too lethal to use in the US since the 1960s). The climate of
confrontation and repression was intensified when during the second strike
in December 2011, and coinciding with the police occupation of campus
that ended the 31 year truce after the deadly 1981 strike, the local Supreme
Court, freshly stacked with Fortuio appointees, ruled protests and strikes
on campus illegal. The Chancellor immediately prohibited any assembly of
any size and nature on campus for a month, and later extended it to another.
Signs for protest "zones" were erected at the limited space of sidewalks
outside campuses, deemed an infringement of free speech rights by the local
chapter of the ACLU. The administration repeatedly coerced professors,
with threats of disciplinary action, to teach inside their assigned classrooms
after nearly 300 voted in an impromptu assembly to refuse to teach on a
police-occupied campus. Female students, whether protesting or not, and
some living in student housing on-campus, reported widespread sexual
harassment by police. The number of measures to neutralize and debilitate
any opposition was staggering, according to Judith Berkan, a long-time
civil rights attorney specializing in police brutality and a law professor at


Public Education: Crisis and Dialogue at the University of Puerto Rico





INTRODUCTION


University of Puerto Rico and InterAmerican University, who has accused
the Fortufio administration of setting back civil rights.
Militant members of the student movement, mask-wearing encapuchados,
set off smoke bombs and turned over chairs in sectors of the university that
remained operational, particularly in Natural Sciences. Though involvement
of agent provocateurs is always suspected, as has occurred historically
during previous conflicts, there is no denying such militancy exists among
a small group of students, and this threatened broad public support when
mass media disseminated the images, as well as prompted some professors
to publicly welcome the police occupation. Certain militant tacitcs, however,
fostered broader solidarities and effective media visuals, such as when masked
protesters scaled the emblematic clock tower during demonstrations at the
Rio Piedras campus and unfurled black banners stating "Venceremos" (We
will overcome).
Massive marches of public support for the UPR, including against the
police occupation, occurred repeatedly, convoking a broad public of thousands
in December 2010 and again in February 2011, after a campus melee of
indiscriminate police brutality and arrests. The most harrowing repression
culminated during a week of peaceful, non-violent civil disobedience at
the end of January 2011, in which police arrested students while applying
dangerous and painful pressure points to their necks. At least two student
leaders remain suspended from the university, Waldemiro Velez and Adriana
Mulero Claudio, who was arrested twice and the second time with particular
brutality. Interventions by the ACLU and the US Federal Justice Department,
urged significant reforms, for example, the weight of guns had been doubled
long ago by most US police forces, and noted the lack of any protocols at all
for ensuring free speech rights, preventing excessive force, and little to no
oversight over police with many complaints lodged against them, some who
later were involved in the deaths of unarmed civilians. The final ACLU report
on police brutality and corruption in the Puerto Rican police department,
released in June 2012, outlined shocking levels of institutionalized impunity and
criminality.26 Another major intervention came from speeches made from the
floor of the US Congress by Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-Ill.), whose constituents
include a large, long-standing Puerto Rican community in Chicago. Along


26 The report also notes that, for a population of 3.8 million, the Puerto Rico Police
Department is larger than any in the US except New York City.


SARGASSO 2011-12, 1






INTRODUCTION


with Anthony Romero, an openly gay Puerto Rican from New York and
long time executive director of the ACLU, these interventions demonstrated
the power and potential of transnational organizing and alliances between
diaspora communities and the Caribbean.27
The defiant resistance of the UPR student movement was comparable in
size, drama and import to that by students in London and Chile, as student
unrest proliferated throughout the world where such attacks to public
higher education are taking place (though many countries, such as Brazil,
have not reneged on maintaining accessible, quality higher education).
Because my articles on the unrest and repression in The Huffington Post
helped draw international coverage, as gauged by journalists who contacted
me before coming to Puerto Rico (including from The Miami Herald, The
New York Times, and AlJazeera English), and how the articles were shared
online, I maintained a vivid sense of how this news played outside Puerto
Rico. Student activists as far as Pakistan and Croatia translated and posted
these articles to student movement websites, as did one called International
Student Movement.28 The size of the protests dwindled dramatically after
the violent and disastrous March 7, 2011 attack by student protesters
on Chancellor Ana Guadalupe, which was disseminated widely via mass
media. Yet international support continued to flourish, aided in part by
Puerto Ricans living throughout the US, Latin America, the Caribbean, and
Europe, as well as solidarity gestures between student movement members
in Puerto Rico and Chile.
Obviously, neo-liberal economic and privatizing forces are powerful,
unrelenting, global and concerted, and continue to inflict incalculable
economic and environmental harm on a global level. As I have stated before,
while the neoliberal economic agenda of Puerto Rico's current political leaders
looks back to the very doctrines that caused the global crisis, the UPR student
movement embodied the vanguard of the contemporary twenty-first century,
as reflected by their symbols and tactics, including the democratizing Internet;
sustainable organic farming; an effervescence of alternative arts; and new


27 I concur with Jorge Duany's characterization of the Puerto Rican diaspora as trans-
national, most recently in Blurred Borders: Transnational Migration between the Hispanic
Caribbean and the United States. Chapel Hill, NC: U of North Carolina Press, 2011.
28 International Student Movement posts from around the world on its webpage as well
as on a Facebook page: < http://www.emancipating-education-for-all.org/>.


Public Education: Crisis and Dialogue at the University of Puerto Rico





INTRODUCTION


coalition building among center, right and left, in tandem with occupation
practices inspired by student movements as far as California, Spain, France,
and Greece.29
Hence, the UPR 2010-2011 strikes stand out as a watershed moment
regarding accessible quality public higher education not only in Puerto Rico,
but throughout the Americas, as historic student protests proliferate from
Chile to California to Quebec.30 All address the forces of global neoliberalism,
the linkages between the local and global, domestic and international class
warfare, as the current student debt refusal movement in the US demonstrates
by invoking the Occupy Wall Street movement that spread throughout cities
and campuses in 2011, dubbing itself Occupy Student Debt.31 Come what
may of the global fiscal crisis in the coming decade, these students are the
future -and the present- of increasingly porous borders and dramatic, rapid
demographic, political, cultural, informational, and economic shifts.32
The UPR can be characterized as, among other things, one of the largest
institutions of higher learning in the Caribbean; the largest Hispanic-serving
institution in the US (no small bone of contention for those resisting full
incorporation into the US body politic), with UPR also a significant source
of Hispanic students to US graduate programs; the state university with
the lowest tuition in the US (a point of pride for many at UPR, and in
keeping with average local incomes); highly ranked, in some areas, in the
latest Iber-American surveys; recipient of millions in external scientific
research funding (including for the US military, NASA, the pharmaceutical
industry, genetic engineering and biotech); and as national patrimony (in
all its contested complexities). Other important features include UPR's
relation to regional institutions, such as collaborations with University
of the West Indies and Haiti's Universite de 1'Etat d'Haiti and College

29 Stanchich, Maritza. "University of Puerto Rico Student Strike Victory Unleashes Bru-
tal Civil Rights Backlash." The Huffington Post. July 4, 2010. Web.
30 In April and May 2012, more than 2,500 students were arrested in the Quebec student
strikes, the largest in Quebec history. An overwhelming majority strike vote had also
been passed at the CalState system in California, which should come to bear by October
2012. And of course Camila Vallejo, the charismatic leader of the massive student strike
in Chile, had become an international public figure.
31 The Occupy Student Debt online campaign takes pledges and signatures from debtors,
faculty and non-debtors: < http://www.occupystudentdebtcampaign.org/faculty/>.
32 Stanchich, Maritza. "University of Puerto Rico Student Strike Victory Unleashes Bru-
tal Civil Rights Backlash." The Hzffington Post. July 4, 2010. Web.


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INTRODUCTION


Universitaire Caraibe; and key Caribbean Studies projects that include the
Institute of Caribbean Studies, collaborations funded by Atlantea, a decade-
long Humanities doctoral program in Caribbean literature and linguistics;
the publication of the journals, Sa7gasso, which celebrated its twenty-fifth
anniversary last year, and Caribbean Studies, the oldest contemporary journal
in its field; and sustained relationships with scholars throughout the region
and Caribbean Studies abroad through conferences and other affiliations.
These at times conflicting characterizations bespeak such potentially
irreconcilable internal and external contradictions as to the historical role of
UPR as a colonizing and modernizing project (Diaz Quifones 1993, Navarro
Rivera 2000, Reynolds 1989). Can UPR as simultaneously decolonizing
and colonizing project jostle and debate for compatibility in the spirit of
extreme pluralism? Within the UPR community, the debate of how the
university is conceptualized is ongoing. During the second strike an ample
group of professors called La Convergencia (the convergence) from distinct
and sometimes conflicting positions, members and non-members alike of the
main professors' association (APPU), which some had publicly criticized, met
regularly to attempt to forge common ground, and just plain listen to each other,
with ad-hoc groups reaching out to student movement leaders. More recently,
the Consejo General Estudiantil (General Student Council) has sponsored a
conference series "Reconstruyendo nuestra Universidad" (Reconstructing our
University), and debates continue through ongoing Internet journalism and
social forums that arose during the crisis, such as the online publication 80
grades. In refuting nostalgias for times of robust state support that hardly
served as models for decolonizing social transformation, we are forced to
critically reassess which visions and missions of "la YUPf' it is that we are
fighting for, and hopefully creating in the process.33





3 These ideas were shaped by two conferences I participated in, Sustainable Activism
for the Twenty-First Century, organized by graduate students at the Department of
Social and Cultural Analysis, New York University, in April 2011, and The Caribbean
Philosphical Association's "Shifting the Geography of Reason VIII: The University,
Public Education, and the Transformation of Society" at Rutgers University in September
2011. The CPA call, still online at , cogently
frames the issues for Caribbeanists and the region.


Public Education: Crisis and Dialogue at the University of Puerto Rico





INTRODUCTION


This issue of Sargasso dedicated to the 2010-2011 University of Puerto Rico
student strikes is just one contribution toward thinking through the UPR
crisis and reflecting on its tumultuous past two years.
The issue begins with a Chronology of events compiled by Alessandra Rosa,
a doctoral candidate at Florida International University, who is completing a
dissertation about the UPR student strike. Just one important dimension of
this chronology is the crucial role played by all the UPR campuses, reminiscent
of the strike's popular slogan, 11 Recintos, 1 UPR (11 campuses, 1 UPR).
A section of articles opens with "University and Society in Puerto Rico,"
a contribution by the eminent historian Fernando Pic6, a professor at UPR
since 1972 and until recently a Senator in the Academic Senate of the Rio
Piedras campus. Significantly, Pic6 was a key mediator during the deadly and
watershed UPR strike of 1981.34 From the vantage point of that experience, he
considers what kinds of knowledge and skills a large public university should
impart to students for today's world. He recommends preserving critical
thinking and expanding language instruction and comments on historically
ingrained barriers to institutional agility and change.
Next, James Seale Collazo, an Assistant Professor of Education at the
UPR-Rio Piedras Secondary Laboratory School, offers "Lessons of a Student
Strike-A Pedagogical Perspective," a pedagogical and personal reflection on
why he remained active with the key professors' association (i.e., APPU)
during its at times unpopular decisions in support of striking students.
Seale Collazo's article refers importantly to the article "Fungir como
docentes" ("To Act as Professors") by Carlos Pab6n, Professor of History at
UPR-kio Piedras. Pab6n's essay was published in the online journal 80grados
during the height of strike tensions. Both it and a short response to the heated
debate it elicited are reprinted here. Other columns from this debate, such as
by UPR-RP Humanities professors Rafael Bernabe and Ruben Rios Avila, are
listed in the issue's Select Bibliography.
Following this, educator Giovanni Roberto, one of the most visible student
strike leaders, recalls his productive engagement with economically and racially
marginalized guards hired by Capitol Security, a private firm contracted by
the university administration in one of its most nefarious attempts to create
a climate of repression and intimidation against striking students. Roberto's

34 Pic6, Fernando. "La huelga socialist en la universidad feudal". Las Vallas Rotas. San
Juan, PR: Ediciones Huracan, 1982. 17-35.


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INTRODUCTION


first-hand account, "De cuando el barrio entr6 a la UPR" ("When the Inner
City Arrived at UPR"), explores the disturbing dimension of institutionalized
racism of this highly charged episode.
Rounding out the issue's articles, Katherine Everhart, a doctoral candidate
at Vanderbilt University, shows how deeply the UPR student movement has
impacted graduate and undergraduate students alike outside Puerto Rico,
who followed events online individually and collectively, for example through
blogs such as Occupy California, course assignments, or final projects.35
Everhart's essay, "Learning to Protest, Finding my Voice: Accompaniment
in the University of Puerto Rico Student Movement," offers insights on the
ethical stakes in sociological ethnographic research and social movement
theory via her own research of -and participation in- the UPR student
protests.
Also included here is a photo essay, titled "On the Ground and in the
World," by veteran photojournalist Ricardo Alcaraz Diaz, who has worked for
the university newspaper Didlogo for twelve years. The paper's digital version,
Didlogo Digital, produced hard-hitting video coverage of the police crack
down. Recently a photo essay by Alcaraz was censored from Didlogo because
he refused to pull a photo of a police officer screaming at a female student, an
image that has become iconographic of the abuses during the campus police
occupation, and so it appears here. Alcaraz's photos of police and riot squad
repression -some depicting my former students- remind me that when I had
to pause and check my fear of petty and not so petty reprisals before speaking
out, I thought of these students. Through them I learned that overcoming
fear and self-censorship is a collective endeavor, whatever the consequences
to bear.
This issue also offers literary tributes, poetry of witness by Martin Espada
and J.D. Capiello-Ortiz. Espada's three poems, from his most recent book
The Trouble Ball (Norton 2011, also reviewed in this issue), all relate to the
theme of protest, profoundly charged with history in the acclaimed poet's
signature local/global poetics of dissent that is at once North American, US
Latino, inter-American, and international in scope. I first spotted the poem
by Capiello-Ortiz, who is known in local literary circles and initiatives,


35 Another example is Priya Parrotta Natarajan's website on the discourses criminalizing
student protesters for a course at Brown University, listed in this issue's select annotated
bibliography.


Public Education: Crisis and Dialogue at the University of Puerto Rico


xxvii





INTRODUCTION


on Facebook during moments of tense police repression, and was moved
by its bilingual neologisms and the last stanza's canonically Caribbean
references.
Yet so much remains untold. For this reason, a roundup of briefs, titled
"From the Front Lines," features a spectrum of members from the university
and broader community, including a UPR professor with expertise on the
university's finances, another who points out the student movement's failings,
as well as students and community members sharing experiences and responses
related to the strikes.
A select annotated bibliography is also offered, with Spanish and English
entries, of both local analysis and international coverage, as the strike was
largely overlooked at first by international corporate media. Through these
last three years of crisis, I have come to even more deeply respect, admire
and rely on the work of myriad local reporters and photojournalists, many
working for small alternative and independent presses, including student-
run initiatives, and some who are graduates of UPR's School of Public
Communication (COPU). These include Jesus Davila's online articles for
NCM Noticias, online posts from 80grados, IndyMediaPR, NotiCel, Radio
Huelga, Facebook's Estudiantes de la UPR Informan and Periddico Digital de la
Nacidn Puertorriqueia, along with the minute-by-minute reporting as well as
columns in mainstream daily newspapers and the pro-independence weekly
Claridad in which UPR professors often brilliantly critiqued the crisis. In a
climate of repression, their job is all the more difficult-and crucial. Both the
ACLU and US Department ofJustice reports on Puerto Rico's police brutality
and civil rights violations, listed in the bibliography, note that police repeatedly
blocked journalists, and even arrested a Radio Huelga reporter wearing clear
press credentials, in violation of First Amendment rights.
I thank all the contributors to this issue for making it possible, Sargasso
Editor Don Walicek and the board for inviting me to guest edit, and for bearing
with my overcommitted work schedule, and graduate research assistants Juan
Davila and especially Zorimar Rivera.
Finally, I would like to dedicate this issue of Sargasso to those students
who dropped out because they could not afford the $800 yearly student fee,
as their stakes are bigger than perhaps any others. As aforementioned, about
10,000 have since left the UPR, some no doubt to study in more conducive
climates. Those not continuing their studies, however, have to fend for
employment in a country facing its worse crisis since the 1930s, with no clear


SARGASSO 2011-12,1


xxviii






INTRODUCTION


or immediate economic or political solution in sight. If they leave the country,
as a columnist poignantly noted, they take their talents and ambitions, hearts
and souls, hopes and dreams with them along with their brains.36 Their crisis
is and should be also ours.









































6 Torres Gotay, Benjamin. "Una diploma, una maleta y un adi6s". EINuevo Dfa. 17 junior
2012. . Web.


Public Education: Crisis and Dialogue at the University of Puerto Rico





INTRODUCTION


Works Cited



American Civil Liberties Union. "Island of Impunity: Puerto Rico's Outlaw
Police Force." 18 June 2012. discrimination/embargoedisland-impunity-puerto-ricos-outlaw-police-
force>. Web.
Alvarez, Lizette. "Puerto Rico's Plan for Gas Pipeline has Many Critics." The
New York Times. 21 October 2011. 18 June 2012. < http://www.nytimes.
com/2011/10/22/us/puerto-ricos-plan-for-gas-pipeline-has-many-
critics.html?pagewanted=all>. Web.
Berub6, Michael. "The Futility of the Humanities." Qui Parle: Critical
Humanities and Social Sciences. 20.1 Fall/Winter 2011. 95-107. Print.
Carvalho Edward J. and David H. Downing. "Refraining Academic Freedom:
An Introduction." Academic Freedom in the Post-9/11 Era. New York:
Palgrave, 2010. 1-16. Print.
Cheney, Lynne V. Telling the Truth: Why Our Culture and Our Country Have
Stopped Making Sense-and What We Can Do About It. New York: Simon
& Schuster, 1995. Print.
Deresiewicz, William. "Faulty Towers: The Crisis in Higher Education." The
Nation. 4 May 2011. 16 June 2012. Web.
Diaz Alcaide, Maritza. "Marcos Rodriguez Ema dice que sacaria a patadas
a los lideres estudiantiles de la UPR". Primera Hora. 2 diciembre 2010.
tadasaloslideresestudiantilesdelaupr-449607.html>. Web.
Diaz-Quifiones, Arcadio. La memorial rota. San Juan, PR: Ediciones Huracn,
1993. Print.
Donoghue, Frank. "The Long-Term Effects of Student Loan Debt." The
Chronicle of Higher Education. 10 April 2012. blogs/innovations/the-long-term-effects-of-student-loan-debt/32182>.
De Vise, Daniel and Anita Kumar. "U-Va Faculty Senate Holds Meeting
Sunday on Sullivan's Ouster." The Washington Post. 17 June 2012. Web.
Donoghue, Frank. "The Long-Term Effects of Student Loan Debt." The
Chronicle of Higher Education. 10 April 2012. blogs/innovations/the-long-term-effects-of-student-loan-debt/32182>.
Web.


SARGASSO 2011-12,1






INTRODUCTION


EduFactory. "Campaign Against Debt Promoted by EduFactory." 1
September 2012. 19 June 2012. < http://www.edu-factory.org/edul5/
index.php?option=com_ content&view= article&id=356>. Web.
G6mez, Antonio R. "En descenso la participaci6n laboral boricua". Primera
Hora. 23 abril 2012. 20 junio 2012. endescenso laparticipacionlaboralboricua-638849.html>. Web.
Levitin, Adam. "Equity Financing of Higher Education." Credit Slips. 18
June 2012. financing-of-higher-education.html>. Web.
Long, Cate. "Puerto Rico is America's Greece." Reuters. 8 March 2012. 19
June 2012. -is-americas-greece/>. Web.
MacClanahan, Annie. "The Living Indebted: Student Militancy and the
Financialization of Debt." Qui Parle: Critical Humanities and Social
Sciences. 20.1 Fall/Winter 2011. 57-77. Print.
Navarro Rivera, Pablo. Universidad de Puerto Rico: De control politico a crisis
permanent 1903-1952. San Juan, PR: Ediciones Huracan, 2000. Print.
Pab6n, Milton. "La huelga universitaria y la teoria de la conspiraci6n". Las
Vallas Rotas. San Juan, PR: Ediciones Huracan, 1982. 37-117. Print.
Reynolds, Ruth. Campus in Bondage. New York: CUNY, 1989. Print.
Stanchich, Maritza. "University of Puerto Rico Student Strike Victory
Unleashes Brutal Civil Rights Backlash." The Huffington Post. July 4,
2010. Web.
Torres Gotay, Benjamin. "Una diploma, una maleta y un adi6s". EINuevo Dia.
17 junior 2012. res_gotay-806780.html>. Web.
"Ubican a Puerto Rico entire las islas mas peligrosas del Caribe". Primera Hora.
21 junio 2012. Web.
US Census Bureau. "Household Income for States: 2009 and 2010." American
Community Survey Briefs. September 2011. prod/2011pubs/acsbr10-02.pdf> Web.
US Department of Justice. "Department of Justice Releases Investigative
Findings on the Puerto Rico Police Department." Office of Public Affairs.
8 September 2011. /11-crt-1151.html>. Web.


Public Education: Crisis and DNilugu'j r 'l ,, University of Puerto Rico












CHRONOLOGY OF THE 2010-2011 UPR STUDENT STRIKES

Compiled by Alessandra Rosa
Florida International University


March 3, 2009










August 22, 2009




September 28, 2009






October 15, 2009


Gov. Luis Fortufio implements Law 7 as his eco-
nomic recovery plan for Puerto Rico. This law re-
duced the public workforce by around 12%, and de-
clared null and void all public sector labor contracts
for three years. It also reduced the established for-
mula for funding the UPR from 9.6% to 8.1% of the
government's General Funds, initially a cut of about
$200 million or 25%, from UPR's nearly $1 billion
annual budget.

Police attack students on University Avenue for con-
suming alcohol in the street, shortly after the UPR
president resigned after an inquiry was launched
against him over inappropriate use of funds.

Motivated by the layoff of around 30,000 public em-
ployees, UPR-RP students hold a General Student
Assembly in which they develop action committees
for every college (Humanities, Natural Sciences, So-
cial Sciences, Education, and the School of Law).

The UPR student action committees join the one-
day National Strike held by unions and opponents
to Law 7, with about 250,000 participating. UPR
student activists take over Highway 52, a major toll
road, leading to a standoff with police that disperses
only after ex political prisoner Rafael Cancel Miran-
da is brought to the site and persuades students to
avoid a violent confrontation.


Public Education: Crisis and Dialogue at the University of Puerto Rico


xxxiii





ALESSANDRA ROSA


April 13, 2010












April 17,2010





April 21, 2010











April 26, 2010





April 28, 2010


The General Student Council holds a General Stu-
dent Assembly in which the students name a Nego-
tiating Committee to negotiate academic issues with
the university administration. These issues include
the repeal of Certification 98 (which eliminated tu-
ition waivers for athletes, musicians, and honor stu-
dents), as well as opposition to tuition increases and
the privatization of any of the UPR campuses. The
students approve a 48-hour stoppage, followed by an
indefinite strike if negotiations failed.

Facebook page Estudiantes de la UPR Informan (EU-
PRI) is created by student Omar Rodriguez as an in-
dependent news source for university-related updates,
eventually reaching more than 30,000 members.

UPR student activists begin their indefinite strike by
locking down the Rio Piedras campus. On May 3,
the Mayagiez and Cayey campuses join the strike
followed by other campuses. By May 11, ten out
the eleven UPR campuses are on strike and each
has named a student representative to the National
Negotiating Committee (CNN). The Medical Sci-
ences campus shows active solidarity but does not
close due to medical clinic services.

Desde Adentro is created by Aura Colon and other
students. The website begins as collective news by
students to cover the events from within the barri-
cades.

A group of mostly Puerto Rican artists celebrate a
concert, iQue vivan l@s estudiantes!, supporting the
students in their strike in defense of accessible pub-
lic higher education of excellence as a fundamental
right and not a privilege. Celebrities such as Ricky
Martin issue statements of support via large screens.


SARGASSO 2011-12,1


XXXiv






CHRONOLOGY OF THE 2010-2011 UPR STUDENT STRIKES


April 29, 2010







May 2, 2010


May 8, 2010





May 13, 2010














May 14, 2010


The largest faculty organization, Asociacidn Puertor-
riquena de Profesores Universitarios (APPU), with five
chapters throughout the system, asks members to
respect the picket line. The Hermandad (HEEND)
union that represents non-teaching employees also
calls upon members to respect the picket lines.

Radio Huelga is developed as a radial experiment by
Ricardo Olivero Lora and other student to facilitate
communication and disseminate information. It is
transmitted via 1650AM and mainstreamed online.

A group of students, members of the Student Com-
mittee of Private Universities (CEUP), hold protests
in support of the strike to show solidarity from local
private colleges.

Thousands march in the rain in support of the strike
to the entrance of the Botanical Garden, where the
administrative offices of the UPR president are lo-
cated.

The UPR Board of Trustees meets with the students
of the CNN. They reach a tentative agreement for a
General Student Assembly to be held at the Puerto
Rico Convention Center in San Juan for students to
decide whether to ratify or end the strike. In this
assembly around 3,000 students participate and vote
for the strike to continue. In response, Chancellor
Ana Guadalupe announces an administrative clo-
sure until July 31. This allows time for the Board of
Trustees to obtain court orders to evict the students
from the campuses.

Then San Juan police superintendent Jose Figueroa
Sancha prohibits food and water deliveries to the
students inside the campuses. The UPR administra-


Public Education: Crisis and Dialogue at tile University of Puerto Rico


XXXV





ALESSANDRA ROSA


May 16, 2010




May 17, 2010


May 18, 2010


May 20, 2010








May 21,2010







June 3, 2010


tion simultaneously announces it will cut off water
and electricity in the main campus. These actions
provoke thousands of supporters to break the police
blockade by creating a human chain that "hugged"
the UPR and toss food and water over the fence to
students. The father of one student and a physical-
ly disabled graduate student is brutally beaten and
dragged away by police. Images of the incidents are
widely disseminated on YouTube and in the press.

Demonstrating their solidarity, prominent artists such
as Danny Rivera and Silverio P6rez bring food and
supplies to the students but police also block them.

The Mothers and Fathers Committee protest by fast-
ing in support of the student occupiers.

Puerto Ricans in the New York diaspora hold dem-
onstrations in support of the UPR student strike.

Students protest in front of the Sheraton Hotel at
the Convention Center in Miramar, where Gov. Luis
Fortufio is participating in a party fundraiser. Police
and SWAT are mobilized to secure the area from the
protesters. This incident quickly turns violent with
many arrests and injuries that include Taser attacks.
The latter are taped and disseminated on YouTube.

Faculty of all the 11 UPR campuses meet in a Gen-
eral Faculty Assembly held at the Cayey Municipal
Arena. Professors vote to support the striking stu-
dents' demands, as well as call for the resignation of
UPR President Jos6 Ram6n de la Torre and of Board
of Trustees President Ygri Rivera.

Students demonstrate on La Milla de Oro, San Juan's
financial district in Hato Rey.


SARGASSO 2011-12,1


xxxvi






CHRONOLOGY OF THE 20IO-20II UPR STUDENT STRIKES


June 16, 2010











June 24,2010







June 30,2010







July 9, 2010


The Academic Senate of the UPR Medical Campus
approves a resolution repudiating the UPR admin-
istration's management of student claims during the
strike.

After five days of court-mandated mediation, the
Board of Trustees votes nine to four in favor of an
accord with the students. Among the four members
of the Board who vote against the agreement (and
decline to sign the document) is Board President
Ygrf Rivera."' The accord calls for tuition waiver
cancellations to be revoked, for no suspensions of
student strike leaders, and for the planned fee to be
negotiated with students.

Middle States Commission on Higher Education
(MSCHE) places 10 UPR campuses on proba-
tion for not being in compliance with Standard 4
(Leadership and Governance), Standard 3 (Insti-
tutional Resources), and Standard 11 (Educational
Offerings)."2

A protest at the capitol building against Senate
President Thomas Rivera Schatz's prohibition of the
press from entering Senate sessions during budgetary
debates turns violent when police indiscriminately
attack protesters, including students, professors, and
community members. Dozens are injured.

Governor Luis Fortufio appoints four new members
to the UPR Board of Trustees, to secure a voting
majority. It imposes the fee, breaching the previous
strike agreement. In response, students organize to
possibly resume the strike.


1 http://participedia.net/cases/2010-university-puerto-rico-strike
2 http://www.scribd.com/doc/33612322/UPR-Rio-Piedras-en-Probatoria.


Public Education: Crisis and Dialogue at the University of Puerto Rico


xxxvii





ALESSANDRA ROSA


After the June 2010 accords are breached, key stu-
dent leaders and spokespersons were summarily
suspended from the university, including Adriana
Mulero Claudio and Waldemiro V6lez. As of this
writing, only Giovanni Roberto has won a court ap-
peal to be able to enroll again.


Phase Two or the Second Strike


September 22, 2010





October 19-21, 2010





November 9, 2010


November 11, 2010









November 18, 2010


At the Rio Piedras campus, a group of students pro-
test the cancellation of The Women and Gender
Studies Program by climbing the clock tower and
removing the US flag.

At the Rio Piedras campus, a group of students in-
terrupts the academic and administrative operations
of the Colleges of Humanities, Social Sciences, Gen-
eral Studies, and Education.

The General Student Council in Rio Piedras holds a
student assembly, which does not make quorum.

At the Humacao campus, students at a General Stu-
dent Assembly vote against any further interruption
of their academic session.

At the Rio Piedras campus, a student assembly votes
to conduct a referendum November 15-19 on the
$800 fee, organize a march on November 21 to take
the referendum results to UPR administrative offices,
and hold a General Student Assembly on November
30. It also votes to give the administration a month
to eliminate the emergency fiscal fee.

At the Carolina campus, students at a General Stu-
dent Assembly vote for a 96-hour stoppage to begin


SARGASSO 2011-12,1


xxxviii






CHRONOLOGY OF THE 20IO-2011 UPR STUDENT STRIKES


November 19, 2010






November 23, 2010






November 30, 2010




December 1, 2010


December 2, 2010


during their registration for the next quarter Decem-
ber 20-23, and a strike that will go into effect if any
other campus goes on strike. The administration
moves the dates of registration earlier to ensure that
it can take place.

Middle States Commission on Higher Education
(MSCHE) lifts the probation on the grounds of Stan-
dard 11 (Educational Offerings) but continues to cite
problems regarding Standard 4 (Leadership and Gov-
ernance) and Standard 3 (Institutional Resources).

A Student Representational Committee (CRE) is
formed at the Rio Piedras campus to negotiate with
the UPR administration to annul Certification 146,
which authorizes the $800 fee for January 2011 and
a fee of $400 per semester thereafter.

At the Rio Piedras campus, a group of students pro-
tests and blocks access to the Chancellor's office, de-
manding to meet with the Board of Trustees.

At the Rio Piedras campus, students at another
unauthorized student assembly vote for a 48-hour
stoppage on December 7 and an indefinite strike be-
ginning December 14 if the fee is not eliminated.

At the Arecibo campus, students at a General Stu-
dent Assembly approve a 48-hour stoppage starting
the same day. The Chancellor of Arecibo announces
that operations will continue.

At the Utuado campus, students at an unauthorized
student assembly vote for a 24-hour stoppage start-
ing the same day.

Marcos Rodriguez Ema, the Governor's chief of
staff, states on television that if it were up to him,


Public Education: Crisis and Dialogue at the University of Puerto Rico


xxxix





ALESSANDRA ROSA


December 6, 2010











December 7, 2010


protesting students and professors from the univer-
sity would get their asses kicked out ("los sacaria a
patadas") and that the professors supporting students
on strike would be fired ("los profesores bandidos que
estdn incitando a los estudiantes [a irse de paro]." His
comments are interpreted as sanctioning violent re-
pression.

At the Mayagiiez campus, students at a General Stu-
dent Assembly vote to oppose the fee and also to go
on strike and interrupt their semester.

At the Ponce campus, students at a General Student
Assembly vote against the interruption of their aca-
demic session.

At the Utuado campus, students at an authorized
General Student Assembly vote for another 24-hour
stoppage starting that day.

The UPR administration orders that Rio Piedras
campus gates be removed and/or welded opened to
prevent another student lock down of the campus.
Students trying to prevent this are arrested violently.
A private firm contracted by the university, Capitol
Security, provides campus "security," by hiring un-
trained youth from economically marginalized areas.
A few of these youth arm themselves with sticks and
plastic pipes.

A 48-hour student walk out begins.

At the Rio Piedras campus, a bomb threat is received
at the Plaza Universitaria complex, where adminis-
trative offices processing fees are located. All opera-
tions there are stopped until further relocation.

General Student Assemblies are held at the Cayey,
Bayam6n, and Aguadilla campuses.


SARGASSO 2011-12,1






CHRONOLOGY OF THE 2010-2011 UPR STUDENT STRIKES


December 8, 2010










December 9, 2010


December 12, 2010


* Cayey students vote for a 36-hour stoppage start-
ing that same day. The Chancellor of Cayey an-
nounces a one-day academic recess and operations
proceed the following day.
* Bayamon students vote for a 48-hour stoppage
starting the following day. All operations con-
tinue.
* Aguadilla students vote for a 48-hour stoppage
starting that same day. The Chancellor of Agua-
dilla announces that operations will continue.

Certification 90 (2004-2005) of the Board ofTrustees
rejects the blocking of university facilities as a form
of protest. Thus, after the illegal stoppage that oc-
curred at the Rio Piedras campus on December 7-8,
the UPR President requests that State Police occupy
the campus. A video of supposed students breaking
windows of a security van is widely aired on local TV.
For many it justifies the police occupation.

The police force, mounted police, and SWAT team
officially enter the UPR campuses for the first time
in 31 years. Their presence inside campus violates
the long-standing "non-confrontational agreement"
established to promote peaceful dialogue after the
violent incidents during the 1981 UPR student
strike. About 300 police occupy the campus, and
between 200-400 remain, according to an American
Civil Liberties Union investigation.

At the Ponce campus, students at an Extraordinary
Student Assembly vote to oppose the fee and to go
on strike and interrupt their academic session.

Students march from Puerto Rico's state capitol to
the Governor's home and office complex, La For-
taleza, which drew thousands. This demonstration


Public Education: Crisis and Dialogue at the University of Puerto Rico





ALESSANDRA ROSA


December 13, 2010












December 14, 2010














December 15, 2010


includes participants in the campaign "Amorpor los
Globos Rojos." They march carrying red balloons, a
metaphor representing the 10,000 students that
will not be able to continue their studies if the fiscal
emergency fee is implemented.

Puerto Rico's Supreme Court rules that university
students do not have the right to go on strike be-
cause they are not employees. The UPR Chancellor
prohibits any gatherings and demonstrations inside
the campus until January 12 when classes begin (this
is later be extended for three months). The admin-
istration also establishes and labels specific spaces
on sidewalks just outside campus dreas de expression.
Students, staff, and faculty entering campus are re-
quired to show IDs.

Second indefinite strike begins on the Rio Piedras
campus with a peaceful march, with students chant-
ing "iNo a la cuota!" ("No to the fee!") and "iFuera Poli-
cia!" (Police Get Out!). While the students march,
rows of riot squad police armed with shields, batons,
tear gas, and pepper spray drive them to the small
"free speech zones" outside campus where they could
not be readily heard by the university community.
(Prior to this, student lobbying groups attempted to
prevent the strike by speaking to different members
in the Legislature).

Students organize a large, peaceful march from the
UPR campus to Jardin Botdnico, where the UPR
President's office and other central administration
offices are located. When participants picket on
Carretera ntimero uno (Highway #1), blocking traffic,
more than 100 riot squad officers arrive. Students
and their supporters abandon their picket and march
back toward the campus to avoid being attacked. As


SARGASSO 2011-12, 1






CHRONOLOGY OF THE 2010-2011 UPR STUDENT STRIKES


December 20, 2010


January 11, 2011






January 12, 2011






January 13, 2011


they approach campus, they are met on University
Avenue by a wall of hundreds of riot squad officers
advancing toward them. The students walk back to-
ward the university with their arms linked. A group
of UPR professors form a human chain to protect
them.

In the Rio Piedras campus, a student protest that be-
gins in the Natural Sciences building ends with po-
lice corralling students into the Plaza Universitaria
complex and violently arresting many of them. At
least 17 are arrested, many injured. The third floor
of the Natural Sciences library sustains fire damage
and significant losses. A judge later finds that there
was only cause for eight of the arrests.

During the holiday season, student activists continue
demonstrating to gain public support by organizing
"parrandas," a Puerto Rican tradition of neighbor-
hood musical revelry, in Plaza las Americas mall and
different communities.

During an otherwise peaceful march at UPR-RP,
a small band of masked militant student activists,
called encapuchados, overturns food court tables and
breaks glass. Though police were present, none of
those who damage property are arrested.

9 of 15 students are violently arrested after peacefully
handing out leaflets at the UPR-RP College of Hu-
manities and asking professors if they could speak
to their classes for three minutes. They are held for
eight hours and released uncharged.

At the Plaza Universitaria complex of the Rio Pie-
dras campus, students protest the $800 fee with
banners that read ",No a la cuota!' and home-made


Public Education: Crisis and Dialogue at the University of Puerto Rico





ALESSANDRA ROSA


January 16, 2011







January 19, 2011








January 27, 2011













February 9, 2011


plastic and wooden shields, some stenciled with the
slogan "A defender la UPR" ("In defense of UPR")
and a stencil of the emblematic UPR clock tower.
A riot ensues when police attack with steel-tipped
batons, pepper spray, and tear gas. Several students
are subjected to choke holds before being arrested,
some suffering serious injury.

The CRE urges students to choose the partial pay-
ment plan to pay tuition in order to continue pro-
testing the fee. It announces that the UPR adminis-
tration has already begun deducting the $800 dollar
fee automatically from students receiving the federal
Pell grant.

Students begin a week of civil disobedience by sit-
ting at campus entrances with arms locked together.
Forty-nine students are arrested this first day, and
never charged. About 150 arrests are made in the
week, often using brutal tactics. Most students re-
sisted arrest peacefully, doing no more than sitting
with locked arms.

Capping off a week of civil disobedience that be-
gan on January 19, students conduct a sit-in at the
capitol building and police attack the protesters with
rubber bullets, tear gas, and pepper spray. This day's
arrest of 36 students are most brutal, as police ap-
ply pressure-point torture techniques to the students'
necks and other pressure points on the head, near the
eyes and ears, causing extreme pain and sometimes
unconsciousness. Police even grope the breasts of
a female student that was being arrested, as seen in
online media.

At the Rio Piedras campus, a group of students par-
ticipate in a "pintata" (a long-standing tradition of
street painting protest slogans) for "Calle Conciencia"


SARGASSO 2011-12,1






CHRONOLOGY OF THE 2010-2011 UPR STUDENT STRIKES


February 10, 2011





February 12, 2011








Feb. 22, 2011











March 7, 2011


in front of Lazaro Library. Police violently interrupt
the event by brutally and indiscriminately arresting
28 protesters and bystanders. They are later released
uncharged. (Police officers had been videotaping
the protests as a way of identifying and targeting
key student activists, seen as part of a history of the
government keeping files called carpetsa" on pro-
independence activists). Asociacidn Puertorriquena de
Profesores Universitarios (APPU) calls for a 24-hour
stoppage and the resignation of the UPR President,
a move supported by the Hermandad (HEEND)
union of non-teaching staff.

UPR President Jose Ram6n De La Torre writes a
letter to the Superintendent of Police Jos6 Figueroa
Sancha requesting that the police be removed from
the campuses. De la Torre resigns a day later.

More than 15,000 participate in a massive march to
express Valentine's Day love for UPR and demand
the removal of police from the campuses. Upon
returning from a trip, Governor Luis Fortuflo an-
nounces that police would be withdrawn from the
campuses, but on February 25 they were sent back in
smaller numbers.

At an authorized Rio Piedras student assembly, stu-
dents vote for maintaining protests in opposition
to the fee, but against a strike and campus closure.
Later in the assembly, however, when fewer students
are present, they approve a calendar of three weeks
of events including a two-day stoppage, a marathon
reading of the novel One Hundred Years of Solitude, a
day of teaching outdoors called University Without
Walls, and a march against the fee.

At the Rio Piedras campus, in one of the few but
most damaging incidents of illegality on the part of


Public Education: Crisis and Dialogue at the University of Puerto Rico





ALESSANDRA ROSA


March 9, 2011




April 29,2011


student activists, a protest ends with students attack-
ing UPR Chancellor Ana Guadalupe, by pulling her
hair, dousing her with water, restricting her move-
ment, and violently smashing the window of her ve-
hicle. After images and video of the attack are dis-
seminated in the media, demonstrations wane and
draw few participants.

In the Rio Piedras campus, students hold a 24-hour
marathon reading of Gabriel Garcia Marquez's nov-
el, Cien Anos de Soledad, in front of the theater.

Governor Luis Fortufio's passes an Executive Law
(number OE-2011-15) to designate an Advising
Committee to develop an educational reform for the
future of the University of Puerto Rico. The Com-
mittee includes members that are openly hostile to
UPR, in particular the Humanities and Social Sci-
ences. (This reform, released in December 2011, re-
mains in the process of implementation at the time
of this writing.)


SARGASSO 2011-12,1










ESSAYS












UNIVERSITY AND SOCIETY IN PUERTO RICO


Fernando Pic6
University of Puerto Rico, Rio Piedras





In the Caribbean, universities have served social needs in the different stages
of the islands' development, both in the colonial and in the national peri-
ods. In the past century they have been instruments of modernization. Now,
in the era of globalization,' when expenses mount and academic services and
resources are available online, some sectors of society question the claims of the
university to be an essential public instrumentality. Without having recourse
to conspiracy theories, one can see that the increasing cost of public universi-
ties and the existing alternatives for higher education may explain why those
sectors are reluctant to guarantee or extend university funds and why they have
become meddlers in university administration and policies.
The same scenarios are repeated in the Dominican Republic, Barbados,Ja-
maica, Trinidad and Tobago, and in Puerto Rico. Members of the universities'
communities react to the implied threats to university autonomy by extolling
their institutions' past achievements and asserting their continued relevance in
a changing world. These predictable reactions do not lack in vigor and sincer-
ity, but they hardly address the issues raised by the universities' critics. The
universities find themselves in a similar situation to that of eighteenth- and
nineteenth-century national churches facing the liberal states over the cost and
the relevance of their spiritual mission. As in those instances, one would like
to keep public funding and avoid public interference.
Insufficient attention has been paid to the opportunities the universities
have in the changed context of globalization and the necessary adaptations
these opportunities entail. To be able to refocus its mission the university has to


I use the term globalization in the wide sense as Thomas Friedman defines it: "the inexo-
rable integration of markets, transportation systems, and communication systems to a degree
never witnessed before" in Longitudes andAttitudes: Exploring the World after September 11
(New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2002, p. 3).


Public Education: Crisis and Dialogue at the University of Puerto Rico





FERNANDO Pic6


identify the needs of the society it serves. Unfortunately this operation is often
lightly undertaken and results in the listing of superficial short-range needs.
Most typical is the contention that the university exists to prepare candidates
for available jobs, but such proposals do not always offer straightforward solu-
tions. Consider what happened with some universities' degree programs in
secretarial services, television newscasting, and special education, a few years
later those employment opportunities in those areas were gone and scores of
people were trained for job slots that were saturated or had changed.
Social needs ought to be defined not only in terms of the priorities a soci-
ety has established at a given time, but also in function of its long-range goals.
In Puerto Rico, too often vast amounts of energy and resources are mobi-
lized to solve ill-defined problems. Someone decides that addiction to illegal
drugs is the key social problem. Laws are made, public awareness campaigns
are launched; millions of dollars are spent without pause to consider whether
the issue so defined is the fundamental social problem. Who does the research?
Where are those findings discussed? How are the conclusions of such debates
weighed? How do the findings affect policy? The university provides the
necessary forum for such discussions, but the same people who criticize it for
irrelevance are the ones who fail to seek a university airing of their concerns.
They frequently hire mainland consultants to do the thinking for them.
If the university is conceived as an institution destined merely to teach the
necessary accredited skills for a graduate to undertake a profession, its capac-
ity to generate, compare, and apply new knowledge is underestimated and not
given the necessary incentives. A university degree may help people obtain
employment, but the university's mission is educating people. That has always
been the case. What has changed is the education universe in this new world
that is opening before us. What does it mean to be an educated person? In the
Western tradition, a university graduate acquired a critical mind and a broad
knowledge of the principal issues in the Humanities, the Social Sciences, and
the Natural Sciences. Is there something to add or to delete from that descrip-
tion?
On the surface nothing appears to have changed. A critical mind and
a broad knowledge are still the desirable products of a university education.
But a critical mind nowadays means not only the capacity to doubt about the
sources of one's knowledge, but also a skill in questioning and understanding
how in practice that knowledge has been relayed in words and images. We
now realize that what seemed to be evident and proven truths are packaged


SARGASSO 2011-12, 1






UNIVERSITY AND SOCIETY IN PUERTO Rico


and transmitted in verbal and iconic forms that predetermine their reception.
Propositions are the objects of elaboration. So are the images you see on your
computer and television screens. They do not come to you spontaneously.
They are not neutral. University graduates who believe that language is neu-
tral and images speak for themselves are sadly lacking in critical faculties. The
question is whether our universities are educating students to endow them
with those faculties. Do pre-med and engineering students have them? One
may even question whether the Humanities and Social Sciences graduates are
acquiring them and putting them to use in later life.
The cultural baggage that was assumed to be the Western tradition has
also undergone considerable revision. The desirable objective now is not just
the Western -but the global- tradition. In a world in which Japan, China,
and India have become economic giants, and a graduate of one of our busi-
ness schools is likely to eventually travel to Asia or have dealings with Asian
businesspeople, an ignorance of the basic outline of those societies and cultures
is inexcusable. But it is not just a question of learning about Asia. The whole
world is so intertwined that a broad knowledge of its geography, history, and
traditions has become a necessity.
Besides learning more about a greater number of societies, the ideal gradu-
ate will develop the capacity to integrate knowledge. That is to some extent
prompted by interdisciplinary studies, in which the findings and methods of
one discipline are juxtaposed with -indeed interrogated by- those of others.
There are traditional alliances between some humanistic and social science dis-
ciplines, but where are the links between Philosophy and the Communication
Arts (Journalism, Public Relations, Advertising), between History and Ecol-
ogy, Anthropology and Architecture, Law and the Theater?
There was a time, in the remote past, when science majors were required
to learn Latin, to understand the taxonomies in their fields. Now they should
be encouraged to learn modern languages, to communicate effectively with
colleagues all over the world. The easy assumption is that you can get along
almost anywhere with English. On the Internet, perhaps, but in professional
congresses and journals? Are university-trained professionals going to rely
all their careers on abstracts and on hastily recruited interpreters paid by the
hour?
A university graduate should be equipped not only to work locally, but to
be able to travel, observe, contribute, and create internationally. The global
vocation requires substantial preparation. Perhaps instead of envisaging the


Public Education: Crisis and Dialogue at the University of Puerto Rico





FERNANDO Pic6


shortening of the four-year program one should consider adding years to it. In
any case, the global context should alert our universities about actively recruit-
ing and hiring international scholars. In Puerto Rico, the prevailing tendency
has been to hire locally, and if a foreign professor happens to be married to
someone in the university community, well, then he or she becomes a desirable
addition on the staff. Not enough effort is spent in identifying crucial curricu-
lum needs and opening up the search to the wider academic community. What
often happens instead is that if a desirable person is wanted, his or her area of
expertise is defined as crucial and the hiring is undertaken. We are not far from
the Renaissance Church's practices of nepotism.
The international academic community needs to be addressed by the
Caribbean universities. More funds should be available both for professors
and graduate students to attend international congresses and travel abroad for
research. Faculty exchange programs with other universities should be im-
planted. Visiting scholars from abroad should be encouraged. But above all, in
curricular and extra-curricular activities much more has to be done to broaden
horizons.
That broadening should encourage not only awareness of the geographical
dimensions of the world we live in, but also of its social components. Univer-
sities are increasingly serving non-traditional students, such as older citizens,
people who cannot physically attend the university (such as the handicapped,
those living in other latitudes and the incarcerated), and people who return for
additional studies. Many students, however, often show a surprising ignorance
about the backgrounds and experiences of these other sectors of the univer-
sity community. The problems of the handicapped, for instance, are routinely
acknowledged and just as routinely ignored. What can be done to heighten
awareness?
Perhaps the university should expose its students and faculty to challeng-
ing experiences of community service, both to insert them in the discussion of
contemporary issues and to enhance the university's role in the wider commu-
nity. The university should integrate curriculum-wide awareness of ecological
issues, not only in the natural sciences, where it is routinely done, but also in
History, Law, Economics, the Arts and Philosophy.
University libraries should periodically evaluate the university's new needs,
both to support teaching and to facilitate research. Of special importance
should be the conservation and the cataloguing of such materials that are un-
likely to be digitalized or otherwise preserved. The university library should


SARGASSO 2011-12, I






UNIVERSITY AND SOCIETY IN PUERTO Rico


be the ideal venue for interdisciplinary exchanges and the discussion of public
issues. Libraries have to re-invent themselves. Leaving behind the image of
repositories of books, they should become places of meeting, discussion, and
challenge to accepted traditions of knowledge.
In Puerto Rico, such responses come easier and are implemented faster
in private universities, where autocratic forms of governance may result in en-
lightened policies (or may not). In the public universities change comes more
slowly, after much discussion, in which the delaying tactics of entrenched in-
terests and the capriciousness of little caesars are not entirely absent, but which
in the long run produce more lasting results and impact a greater number of
people. Hopefully all the academic reformers' efforts to devise and adapt uni-
versity practices to a changing society will be fruitful.


Public Education: Crisis and Dialogue at the University of Puerto Rico











LESSONS OF A STUDENT STRIKE-
A PEDAGOGICAL PERSPECTIVE

James Seale Collazo
University of Puerto Rico, Rio Piedras



On April 21, 2010, students at the University of Puerto Rico's flagship
campus at Rio Piedras took over the campus, establishing camps and
barricades at each of the main gates. Initially a two-day takeover responding
to the administration's refusal to negotiate with students over their demands
-the repeal of a recent Board of Trustees resolution eliminating tuition exemp-
tions for athletes, musicians, and students in the Honors program- turned into
a 61-day occupation that quickly spread to nine of the other ten campuses. In
addition to its 110-year-old Rio Piedras campus, the UPR system includes
the former College of Agriculture and Mechanical Arts in Mayagiiez, with


APPU members form human chain in front of main gate during the student campus occupa-
tion, May 5, 2010; photo by Ricardo Alcaraz Diaz of Didlogo.


Public Education: Crisis and Dialogue at the University of Puerto Rico





JAMES SEALE COLLAZO


its prestigious engineering program, a Medical Sciences campus offering
graduate degrees and conducting research at the island's Medical Center,
and eight smaller undergraduate campuses at Humacao, Cayey, Bayam6n,
Carolina, Utuado, Arecibo, Ponce, and Aguadilla. By May, only the Medi-
cal Sciences campus remained open. The strike was ended in June after a
court ordered the trustees to negotiate with the system-wide National Ne-
gotiating Committee of student movement leaders. A majority of the trust-
ees agreed to leave the tuition exemptions in place and to postpone until
January the $800 yearly fee the administration had proposed once the cam-
pus takeovers were underway. The day a student assembly in Ponce lifted
the campus occupations, the Puerto Rico legislature added several seats to
the Board of Trustees, and Governor Luis Fortufio filled it with members
loyal to the governing party. The administration's subsequent refusal to
negotiate the $800 fee led to another strike in December, this one centered
on the Rio Piedras campus. In early December, the UPR administration
removed the gates from all the campuses, insisted on classes remaining in
session, and ended a 30-year policy of non-intervention by state police in
UPR conflicts. They used police force, and frequently violence, to quash
the ensuing student actions, which continued until early March of 2011.
The UPR strike took place in the context, shared with many other coun-
tries and jurisdictions around the globe, of diminished public support for high-
er education. UPR tuition has historically remained far below that of mainland
US public universities. By law the system receives 9.6% of central government
revenues. The Fortufio administration, elected in 2008, declared a fiscal emer-
gency and laid off about 30,000 thousand public employees. Though the for-
mula for UPR revenues was not directly modified, a number of important rev-
enue sources were excluded from its calculation, resulting in a sharp reduction
in funding for the university system. The 9.6% formula theoretically offers
UPR a significant measure of independence, but each transition between (pro-
statehood) New Progressive Party and (pro-Commonwealth status) Popular
Democratic Party administrations has produced a cascade of changes in uni-
versity administration, from the Board of Trustees down to deans and depart-
ment chairs. This "politicization" of the university has been decried for de-
cades, but has proved extremely resistant to change.
As Secretary of the Rio Piedras chapter of the Asociacidn Puertorriqueia
de Profesores Universitarios (APPU), the largest association of professors at the
University of Puerto Rico, which just celebrated its fiftieth year, I was pretty


SARGASSO 2011-12, 1






LESSONS OF A STUDENT STRIKE-A PEDAGOGICAL PERSPECTIVE


much in the thick of events during the student strike and subsequent university
closure that began in April 2010. APPU essentially supported the students'
struggle as the front line of defending public education from a government-
wide onslaught of neoliberal restructuring. Personally, I looked at my involve-
ment as necessary for two reasons: one political, one pedagogical. Politically,
I understood and supported -and still think it was the right thing to do- AP-
PU's decision to back the students because they were, in fact, our allies in the
struggle for low-cost, high-quality public education. As allies, they had much,
much less to lose, at least in the short term, than faculty did by participating in
civil disobedience such as the campus occupation. Several non-tenured faculty
members' principled support of students throughout the strike cost them their
jobs at UPR, while sanctions were applied to a handful of student leaders who
were able to have legal representation. As allies, they were also advancing the
cause of public education, an investment in which we clearly have a stake.
In truth, though, what most motivated me was not the politics of resis-
tance to neoliberalism so much as the pedagogy of student activism as a social
movement. Perhaps too grandiosely, I felt that as a UPR faculty member -even
though my teaching responsibilities were at the secondary laboratory school-
I could somehow put my organizing experience at the service of the student
movement during a period of collective crisis.1 In other words, I saw my pres-
ence on the outside of the occupied campus as an educational one: fungir como
docente (to function as an educator), to use words which would become highly
contested in later months. Of course, in practice, it is very hard to assume any
sort of educational role when one's function is ancillary to the drama taking
place. The student movement was squarely at the center of the action; though
we stood in solidarity, APPU never actually declared itself on strike with the
students and all UPR employees continued to draw their paychecks. This was
education as solidarity, at (its) best: on the one hand, APPU's activist core put
our bodies on the line time and again in support of our students -a support
much more critical than many of our colleagues recognized, especially as seen
in conversations at the leadership level; on the other, the great majority of fac-

1 UPR was founded in 1903 as a teacher-training institution, and very early on (1913)
started a lab school as a model of "modern" pedagogy, and to partially fill the need for
schools. The Escuela Secundaria de la UPR -still known by its former English-language
initials, UHS- is one of the island's foremost public or private secondary schools and
remains an integral part of the UPR-Rio Piedras' College of Education; its faculty are
regular members of the Rio Piedras faculty.


Public Education: Crisis and Dialogue at the University of Puerto Rico





JAMES SEALE COLLAZO


ulty and staff stood much further off on the sidelines, taking advantage of what
some took as an impromptu paid vacation or a chance to finish pressing work
outside the classroom.
Around two hundred APPU members (of the six hundred members at
the Rio Piedras campus, which has about 1,200 faculty members) participated
actively in the strike, joining marches and attending meetings; around fifty of
us came to be known as portoneros, spending hours -often in the hot sun, or
through the wee hours of the morning- sitting outside the gates as a buffer
between the students and the potential police assault which was feared for
most of the sixty-one days of the occupation. Our "standing orders" were to
observe, document, and, with discretion, attempt mediation in case of any con-
frontation. There were many confrontations, most often between the campus
administration and the strikers, over who controlled access to the campus. The
students had taken over the six main vehicular-access gates on April 21, 2010,
but the university's (unarmed) security force remained in control of one gate,
on Barbosa Avenue (the "back" of the campus, whereas the more picturesque
facade is in "front" on Ponce de Le6n Avenue). Through this gate, the Chan-
cellor and her administrative staff entered, as did independent contractors who
kept working on various construction projects, and researchers with ongoing
experiments, some with laboratory animals.
APPU tried to uphold a nearly two-decade-old "Non-Confrontation Pol-
icy" that lays out a process for such situations, centering on a Security Coordi-
nating Board (Junta Coordinadora de Seguridad or JCS), which includes faculty,
student, staff, and administration representatives. The administration, howev-
er, refused to recognize the JCS, and never sent its representatives; the students
also boycotted this process, for reasons unknown to me. APPU, with some
support from the Brotherhood of Non-Teaching Employees (Hermandad de
Empleados Exentos No-docentes), the large and important union for non-teach-
ing staff, acted as a "rump JCS" trying to continue mediation. This was the
role of the portoneros, who were joined by a group of parents of strikers (many
of whom participated in the 1971, 1981, and 1992 UPR strike as students)2

2 UPR has a long history of student strikes: in 1948, pro-independence students pro-
tested the Chancellor's refusal to allow recently-freed Nationalist leader Pedro Albizu
Campos to speak on campus; in 1971, violence erupted over the Vietnam war and the
semi-fortified on-campus presence of ROTC (US military Reserve Officers Training
Corps), with a toll of several deaths; in 1981 and 1992, as in 2010, students went on
strike to protest tuition hikes (and the administration's refusal to negotiate them).


SARGASSO 2011-12,1






LESSONS OF A STUDENT STRIKE-A PEDAGOGICAL PERSPECTIVE


and other community and labor groups during later weeks of the occupation.
Makeshift camps sprung up outside the gates, mirroring the student camps
inside.
Students fashioned signs for their respective camps, whose composition
roughly corresponded to the colleges orfacultades near each gate they were in
charge of clean up and maintenance. Camp names, such as Camp Vietnam
for Social Sciences and Camp Disney for Natural Sciences, suggested a broad
coalition. Like these, the APPU groups stationed at these locations had dif-
ferent characteristics. One, at the utterly shadeless entrance close to the Bellas
Artes (Fine Arts) building, came to be known as Villa Sarten (Skilletville), a
play on words which may or may not have required doctoral studies. The camp
on Barbosa Avenue, equipped by labor groups with a gas stove that served hot
lunches to students, came to be called ElBronx, in contraposition to the "Hol-
lywood" camp outside the Ponce de Le6n Avenue gate, where reporters and
cameras were more often present.
Since the administration's across-the-board stance was not to recognize
the legitimacy of the student movement, and its immediate response to the
campus occupation was to declare a long administrative closure,3 APPU mem-
bers negotiated with student occupiers to allow regular access to research labo-
ratories; hence ironically the most immediate obstacles to researchers' access
came from the administration. At the security gate, only faculty and graduate
student researchers were allowed in by the administration, leaving out under-
graduate research assistants-who carry out a large portion of the day-to-day
work in labs. The simple solution was for them to enter through the student-
controlled gates, where all they had to do was sign in saying they were going to
work in a lab. When the students erected barricades across streets and lawns
within the campus, the Dean of Natural Sciences ordered all the laboratories
shut down without regard to the experiments being conducted, arguing that
the buildings were unsafe because emergency vehicles might not have free
access to them. APPU members negotiated with the students, who eventu-


3 The campus was closed administratively during a much briefer 2005 strike over a tuition
hike, though student participation was at times minimal. The student assembly resolu-
tion approving the 2010 strike specified that for the campus occupation to be main-
tained, at least thirty students must be present continuously at each campus entrance.
This led to separate camps established at the six main campus entrances beginning April
21,2010. The separate personalities these camps developed, and the logistics and politics
of the occupation, belong to the history of the strike for its student participants to tell.


Public Education: Crisis and Dialogue at the University of Puerto Rico





JAMES SEALE COLLAZO


ally moved the barricades away from the labs so they did not block vehicular
access.
APPU's support of dialogue was defacto solidarity with the students. In
practice, the camps outside the gates also helped channel supplies to the stu-
dents, particularly during the tense weeks in May when the police attempted to
blockade the campus. And of course, the presence of people camping outside
the gates offered considerable moral support to the students within.
Harrowing though they were, subsequent events now make the sixty-one
days of the student occupation of the eleven campuses seem idyllic. The stu-
dent movement achieved broad unity, and broad popular support, including
support from UPR faculty (mostly, but not exclusively APPU members): an
unprecedented 1,100 professors from the eleven campuses -around twenty
percent of UPR faculty island-wide- met in the central mountain town of
Cayey on May 21, 2010 and approved resolutions in support of the students'
demands, including a strike authorization in the event police forcibly dislodged
the student occupation. Within the occupied Rio Piedras campus, the need to
maintain unity meant that in practice, the more combative student sectors had
to remain accountable to those less inclined to throw stones or conceal their
faces (the so-called encapuchados); the latter, for their part, had to recognize the
legitimacy of more risky tactics.
An example of this dates to roughly midway through the strike, when
several dozen masked students took over the security gate, through which the
Chancellor and other administrators had been entering. I immediately got
distressed emails from colleagues outside the island concerned that the student
left had run rampant. I was much less worried, because I knew this move had
been under discussion for at least three weeks in the occupiers' frequent plenary
sessions. Later, one of my acquaintances in the student movement -who had
opposed the security gate takeover- told me how the groups that had been
advocating for it had gone around to all six camps, lobbying for support and
eventually crafting a collective decision which, as far as I could tell, worked
well: with the students in control of all the entrances, conflicts over researchers'
access to their laboratories ended.
As an educator and an activist, I was fascinated and inspired by the oc-
cupiers' democratic process. By June, they had developed and implemented
an entire theory of horizontalidad horizontalityy), with issues discussed at the
gate-camp meetings (usually some twenty to fifty participants) before being
brought to campus-wide plenary sessions. But the euphoria of the apparent


SARGASSO 2011-12, I






LESSONS OF A STUDENT STRIKE-A PEDAGOGICAL PERSPECTIVE


victory in June was short-lived. When the Board of Trustees was forced by
court-order to negotiate with the Student Negotiating Committee, a deal was
reached that ended the strike by postponing the new $800 annual student fee,
with its future application contingent on negotiation, after which the state-
hood party-controlled legislature expanded the Board, and Governor Fortufio
appointed several party loyalists, effectively canceling the possibility of any fur-
ther negotiation over student fees.
The second stage of the strike, between December 2010 and March 2011,
was much more difficult. The administration's hard-line stance was mirrored
in the student movement, and when the campus gates were removed and state
police ordered to occupy the campuses, the student movement was dominated
by more confrontational tactics, occasionally including the destruction of uni-
versity property by masked individuals. Student resistance during this stage,
rather than extending to all eleven campuses as it had in April through June,
centered on the Rio Piedras campus. Faculty support also wore thin, though
rejection of the police occupation was prevalent, and an APPU-led stoppage
on February 10, 2011, following a day of indiscriminate police violence, when
arrests of students painting the street in front of the main library expanded into
a campus wide melee, helped produce a temporary removal of police. But the
fees remained in place and student resistance came to an end after a protest
against Chancellor Ana Guadalupe at the school of Architecture on March 7
turned violent. Her hair was pulled and she was doused with water as she tried
to exit through a crowd of protesters outside the School of Architecture, and
then the passenger window of her vehicle was smashed. These actions were all
caught on video and in photos and widely disseminated by the media.

FACULTY'S ROLE IN STUDENT-ADMINISTRATION CONFLICTS

How should faculty members -particularly, faculty associations- respond when
student movements, or social movements generally, seek to interrupt, or "oc-
cupy," business as usual on campus? This question presents a terrible conun-
drum, as such movements often include tactics or statements with which we
individually or collectively disagree, even as we share the occupiers' goals and
many of their interests.
APPU support of the students was not uncritical; violent incidents were
quickly condemned each time they happened. Yet this support was also quite
costly. Several professors revoked their membership, saying the organization


Public Education: Crisis and Dialogue at the University of Puerto Rico





JAMES SEALE COLLAZO


did not represent their views. Others questioned why we were allowing the
student movement to lead when our issues were continually being overlooked.
Faculty members have had no raises since 2008. Many promotions since then
had been recommended, but as an "austerity" measure none had been finally
approved; in addition, the UPR employee health plan was gutted, tripling de-
ductibles for medicines and, in particular situations, leaving some professors
without coverage.
A lively debate over what role professors should play in these conflicts took
place in the spring of 2011. In an essay published in the important and then
new online publication 80 Grados, professor and historian Carlos Pab6n argued
that what was most important was that we continue tofungir como docentes -to
teach- and that abandoning the classroom, as a faculty assembly had decided
to do in response to the campus police occupation in December, was mistaken.
Pab6n's essay -a scathing indictment of APPU's activism since the strike began
in April 2010- had three arguments: that the students' tactics were ineffec-
tive and counterproductive; that APPU had no right to speak for the faculty
because not all faculty are APPU members (in fact, that APPU's leadership
did not speak for the organization's membership); and that by refusing to enter
campus to teach during the police occupation, faculty were abdicating our re-
sponsibility tofungir como docentes, to act as educators.
A plethora of responses ensued; the essay remains among those that have
received the most comments on the 80grados website. Also important are two
important pieces by APPU members Waldemiro Vl6ez Cardona and Rafael
Bernabe, responding to Pab6n. A year later, Pab6n's arguments still merit con-
sideration by those of us who disagree with him.
The question of strategy and tactics will never go away; whether our ac-
tions ultimately serve our goals, or those of our opponents, is the enduring
problem of strategy. In the heat of political conflict such as UPR endured dur-
ing 2010 and 2011, and which could be reignited at any moment, the choices
one faces are seldom pleasant and always fraught with danger. On February 9,
2011, after several students were injured by riot police while painting the side-
walk in front of the main library in Rio Piedras, hundreds of people converged
on the Chancellor's office. After several hours of waiting for Chancellor Gua-
dalupe to meet with them, APPU's leadership called for a campus shutdown
the following day. At the time I thought this was a terrible mistake, and I was
unhappy that the decision had been made by the top leadership, over the ob-
jections of several APPU members who were present. In retrospect, though,


SARGASSO 2011-12,1






LESSONS OF A STUDENT STRIKE-A PEDAGOGICAL PERSPECTIVE


this turned out to be an excellent tactical decision. In response to that call,
hundreds of people picketed at the campus gates in protest of the police vio-
lence, and a march that Saturday drew thousands; the police were withdrawn
from campus the following week (only to be returned after continued student
protests turned violent). Whether the students' strategies in the April occupa-
tion and the December-March protests ultimately made the university safer
from or more vulnerable to the neoliberal administration's agenda will not be
known for some time.
Similarly, it remains very difficult to determine the degree to which APPU's
actions represented the opinions and wishes of its members. Organizations
with elected leadership need to prioritize communication with their members,
but that may come at considerable cost to agility, as communication with the
600 APPU members in the Rio Piedras campus, a task to which I devoted con-
siderable effort as secretary of the campus chapter, invites comparison to the
labors of Hercules... or perhaps Sisyphus. It may or may not be the case that
academics are more individualistic than factory workers, but I will assert that
they are harder to organize, in large part because of the logistics of communi-
cation. Spread out over 289 acres and nearly a dozen academic units, where
they are physically present only during class time and office hours (and have
been without a faculty center for nearly two decades) the centrifugal forces
-both literally, as many faculty members spend as little time as possible in of-
ten cramped, ill-equipped, or mold-ridden offices, and politically, with diverse
ideological cliques often never crossing paths- are overpowering. Emails often
go unread, and holding actual meetings is exceedingly difficult, for faculty as-
sociations as well as for departmental committees. Even if we assume that
there can be a single course or strategy a 1,200-member faculty can agree upon
in a complicated set of circumstances like the 2010-11 UPR student strike,
how should a faculty association deliberate to formulate and implement it to
the satisfaction of the majority of its members (let alone the faculty at large)?
Given that the large majority of our faculty members in these situations ap-
pear to prefer to sit out conflicts rather than participate actively, APPU's most
"representative" action would clearly be none at all.
This was not at all what Pab6n proposed, of course. Fungir como docentes
-to act as educators- in a crisis such as UPR's clearly requires an active pres-
ence. APPU's role in the conflict was predicated upon the principle of a Junta
Coordinadora de Seguridad that would act as a buffer between antagonists. In
theory, it would also have served as a forum for dialogue, at least on logistical


Public Education: Crisis and Dialogue at the University of Puerto Rico





JAMES SEALE COLLAZO


issues, between the principal antagonists, but these never participated. APPU
was joined by a few members of the Brotherhood of Non-Teaching Employees,
and as the April occupation wore on into May, some important labor and com-
munity groups shared our bufferingg" function.
Did we act as educators? Certainly not to the extent that our function
requires a classroom and attentive students; probably not, if "educating" means
providing answers. Returning again to Pab6n's piece, it was one of many pub-
lished by professors, including APPU and non-APPU members, between April
2010 and March 2011, that together offer a wide variety of views. I had two
Op-Ed columns published in the main daily newspaper EINuevo Dia. This is
a fairly recognizable "educational" role. I argue that "acting as educators" does
not require knowing the answers in advance, or even offering potential ones;
Paulo Freire, at least, if not the entire constructivist movement in education,
would agree. From our different position as professors and employees, with a
stake in the institution over a much longer term than most of the students, we
were "reading the world" together with them, just as angry over attacks on the
university by the neoliberal administration, equally uncertain as to whether the
helicopter circling overhead meant that a police assault was imminent. Unlike
the majority of our colleagues, my fellow portoneros and I chose to act physi-
cally in response to the crisis, metaphorically "rending our garments" as Old-
Testament priests in times of crisis, as we exchanged our usual teaching attire
for burgundy-colored APPU T-shirts. Though few in number in comparison
with APPU's own membership and the UPR faculty at large, we were the only
organized faculty presence at Rio Piedras, and our actions drew considerable
media attention. We thus "educated" with our presence outside the gates, on
picket lines, and in marches, telling the entire country that active participation
in this political struggle was a legitimate professorial role. This position was,
of course, far from a consensus position among UPR professors, and opened
the lively debate in which Pab6n's essay synthesized many of the arguments
against us.
When Hebrew priests and kings rented their garments, it was a sign that busi-
ness could not go on as usual: a great sin had been committed, or great danger was
at hand. It was a dramatic gesture signaling that the whole community should
stop and reflect upon its deepest commitments and respond to the crisis with an
equally dramatic action of collective repentance or mobilization against the danger.
Disrupting the usual royal or priestly appearance, the gesture communicated that
the order upon which the entire nation depended was threatened, from within or


SARGASSO 2011-12,1






LESSONS OF A STUDENT STRIKE-A PEDAGOGICAL PERSPECTIVE


from outside. To leave their finery unruffled would not have communicated the
dire nature of the community' s predicament.
Similarly, when professors leave our classrooms to walk picket lines, stand
between riot police and demonstrators, or meet with students in fast food restau-
rants and sidewalks, as many did between December 2010 and February 2011-
an action Pab6n decried as a relinquishment of our role- we communicated the
gravity of the situation to the entire country. Leaving the classrooms where we
wield power, we assumed a place alongside our students as co-participants in a
struggle in which we all agreed that the safety of the university community as we
knew it was at stake. The ideas that education is a public service that ought to
be available to all regardless of economic circumstances and that the university
is a self-governing community in which the pursuit of knowledge, and not utili-
tarian benefit, are guiding principles: these values continue to be threatened, in
Puerto Rico and elsewhere in the world, during the current global neoliberal
offensive. By stepping outside the student-teacher hierarchy that is the most
immediate source of our power, we appealed to these deeper values, and called
out for a wider response from the community at large.
I'm not at all sure that my actions as part of APPU during the 2010 UPR
strike contributed to the advancement or safeguarding of those values. I never
presumed to be speaking for all my colleagues as I spoke, wrote, and acted dur-
ing those months, though the news media tends to bestow spokesperson status
on those individuals they find to be accessible or agreeable interviewees. But
I feel an almost Cartesian certainty that I did act as an educator during that
crisis: e-ducere, leading-out, cannot possibly be limited to writing for peers in
journals, or speaking in classrooms to students. If it is to have meaning worthy
of the years I have devoted to study and teaching, it has to be, in itself, a way of
being-in-the-world that can be manifested under many other circumstances.
A few months ago, a young man in a movie theater greeted me, calling me
professor. I looked at him quizzically as I asked if he'd ever been my student; "en
la huelga" was his answer. He may or may not have been validating the argu-
ment I just made, but at minimum he recognized me as one of the professors
who was active during the strike and addressed me as such. Was he recogniz-
ing me as an ally or an educator? In my mind, the distinction is unimportant.
In these economically stressful and politically chaotic times, figuring out
what to do, how to respond to situations like the UPR strike, presents a recur-
rent conundrum for intellectuals. Pab6n's and others' criticisms of APPU's
role in the strike hinged upon the premise that our function as educators is


Public Education: Crisis and Dialogue at the University of Puerto Rico





JAMES SEALE COLLAZO


too important to cease, even in protest against injustice or in solidarity with
just causes. These points are valid; I know I may be wrong, and so may fellow
members of the organizations in which I participate, but if that is the case, then
I prefer to make such collective mistakes rather than trying to go about my
profession, even when the latter entails thinking, writing, and speaking criti-
cally about the crisis while teaching, as if nothing were amiss at the university.
When things fall apart, acting as an educator means being present to pain and
danger, recognizing that we don't have all the answers we wish we had, and
being willing to make very public mistakes for the sake of the communities to
which we belong, groups in which our views may be shared only by a minor-
ity. In times of crisis, the distinction between politics and pedagogy becomes
blurry, maybe in productive ways; in these moments, professors may be chal-
lenged to leave the institutional confines of our regular teaching practice, and
find additional ways to function as educators.


SARGASSO 2011-12,1






LESSONS OF A STUDENT STRIKE-A PEDAGOGICAL PERSPECTIVE


Works Cited

Bernabe, Rafael. "Los docentes y la crisis en la universidad". 80grados. March
4, 2011. la-crisis-en-la-universidad/>. Web.
Pab6n, Carlos. "Fungir como docentes". 80grados. February 15, 2011.
. Web.
Vd6ez Cardona, Waldemiro. "Una docencia compleja". 80grados. March 25,2011.
< http://www.80grados.net/una-docencia-compleja-edit/>. Web.


Public Education: Crisis and Dialogue at the University of Puerto Rico












FUNGIR COMO DOCENTES


Carlos Pab6n
Universidad de Puerto Rico, Recinto de Rio Piedras


Nota del Editor: Este ensayo se public originalmente en la revista digital 80
grades (ver www.80grados.net) el 15 de febrero de 2011 durante el conflict
que involucr6 a los estudiantes en huelga en la Universidad de Puerto Rico. Lo
incluimos en esta edicidnpor las conexiones obvias con el ensayo anterior "Lessons
of a Student Strike-A Pedagogical Perspective" de James Seale Collazo, y sus
aportaciones valiosas a los debates sobre las responsabilidades de los docentes. Sar-
gasso public nuevamente este ensayojunto a una segunda pieza mds corta que
Carlos Pab6n redacto aproximadamente una semana mds tarde en respuesta a las
reacciones (ver Postdata mds abajo). Ambos se reproducen en suforma original
con permiso del autor.


Cual es la responsabilidad de los profesores en este moment de crisis por el
que atraviesa la Universidad de Puerto Rico?


L a responsabilidad primordial es fungir como docentes. Esto podra pare-
cer una obviedad, pero no lo es porque los profesores no nos hemos es-
tado desempefiando como docentes. iQu6 quiere decir fungir como docentes?
Primero, reconocer que es indispensable que nuestros posicionamientos surjan
de un andlisis aut6nomo en tanto sector universitario singular. Los docentes
tenemos la obligaci6n de definir nuestra posici6n y asumir nuestra responsabi-
lidad en este scenario, un scenario marcado por multiples dimensions que
van mas alli de la cuota y que implica un sin nimero de otras medidas que de
manera avasalladora estan poniendo en riesgo la Universidad a la que muchos
aspiramos. Los profesores nos vemos afectados por la crisis de la Universidad
de una manera que no necesariamente se subsume bajo los reclamos estudian-
tiles. De ahi que la formulaci6n de nuestras estrategias requiera de una vision a
largo plazo capaz de enfrentar esta crisis en toda su complejidad.
Los docentes tenemos que ser capaces de actuar aut6nomamente aunque
esto pueda significar en ocasiones entrar en contradicciones y tener diferendos
con otros sectors universitarios. Ya hemos perdido demasiado en esta coyun-


Public Education: Crisis and Dialogue at the University of Puerto Rico





CARLOS PAB6N


tura por no haber sido capaces de hacerlo (eliminaci6n de profesores por con-
trato, congelaci6n de plazas y de ascensos, eliminaci6n de sabaticas y descargas,
reducci6n de ofrecimientos academicos, programs academicos en pausa, de-
gradaci6n de nuestras condiciones de ensefiaza y de investigaci6n, entire otros
asuntos).
Fungir como docentes supone reconocer que somos un sector diferente
a los estudiantes, un sector vulnerable, que no puede supeditar sus political,
reclamos y estrategias a la de los sectors estudiantiles como ha sido la practice
de la APPU y de otros, quienes continuan subsumiendo sus posturas a las de
los estudiantes que supuestamente estan en huelga. Mas a6n, hay que decir
claramente que la APPU no represent al profesorado universitario, en todo
caso, represent a sus miembros que son s61o una fracci6n del claustro. Las po-
siciones y estrategias de la APPU no son apoyadas ni compartidas por los que
no pertenecemos a esta agrupaci6n. Por lo menos, ese es mi caso. (Habria que
preguntarse incluso si las posiciones oficiales que esta agrupaci6n ha asumido
de cara a la crisis universitaria y la huelga estudiantil son apoyadas por la ma-
yoria de sus miembros.) Cada vez que la APPU toma una decision, su liderato,
con la complicidad de los medios, se arroga el monopolio de la representaci6n
del claustro. Despues de cada asamblea o conferencia de prensa de la APPU
se informa que "los profesores de la universidad" aprobaron tal o cual asunto.
iQu6 profesores? Cuintos? (A quien representan? La pretension de la APPU
de tomar decisions que son vinculantes para todo el claustro, como la decision
del paro del 9 de febrero (que ni siguiera le fue consultada a su membresia), es
algo inaceptable. No empece lo just que puedan ser sus reclamos, la APPU no
puede tomar decisions que sean vinculantes a todo el claustro. Y much me-
nos tildar de "traidores", "rompehuelgas", o "claudicantes" a quienes no acaten
o apoyen estas decisions.
Por otra parte, seguin una cierta 16gica que comparten distintos colegas,
critical a un sector del estudiantado es "paternalista". Pero no es "paternalista"
apoyar incondicionalmente, siempre, las "huelgas" u otras acciones de sectors
estudiantiles irrespective de la legitimidad de estas en cuanto al propio estudian-
tado, de su (in)eficacia, de c6mo nos afectan como docentes e incluso de c6mo
afectan el proyecto de la Universidad que queremos a largo plazo. Se critical al
profesorado si sus actuaciones son diferentes o contradicen las de los estudiantes
porque esto implica, se dice, 'no apoyarlos' o 'dejarlos solos'. No se trata de de-
cirle a los estudiantes lo que tienen que hacer. De lo que se trata es de ejercer el
derecho y la responsabilidad de expresar nuestro parecer sobre las estrategias que


SARGASSO 2011-12,1






FUNGIR COMO DOCENTES


debemos asumir y sobre los efectos que tienen ciertas posturas estudiantiles en
los docentes y para la Universidad en su conjunto. Si bien le corresponde a los
estudiantes definir sus estrategias, los profesores tenemos la responsabilidad de
llevar a cabo un andlisis y debate abierto sobre 6stas y sobre c6mo nos afectan y
adoptar una postura aut6noma frente a las mismas. De igual manera debemos
actuar ante las estrategias de los sectors universitarios no docentes.
Si, tenemos que actuar como docentes. Ello implica en estos moments
analizar y debatir criticamente en torno a todas las estrategias que se han im-
plantado hasta el moment, incluyendo la (in)efectividad y la continuaci6n de
la huelga. A mi modo de ver, esto supone conceder que no s61o las political del
gobierno y la alta administraci6n universitaria, como la ocupaci6n policiaca,
nos han obstaculizado ocupar nuestro espacio y ejercer adecuadamente nues-
tras tareas como universitarios. En lo que a mi concierne, la continuaci6n de un
simulacro de "huelga" (a pesar de un cada vez mis menguado apoyo estudiantil)
y la insistencia en la "paralizaci6n" de la Universidad son tambien obsticulos a
que ocupemos con efectividad el espacio academico y la defense del proyecto
universitario. Pero la APPU continue apoyando la "huelga" incondicionalmente
pasando por alto la ineficacia de la estrategia huelgaria. Acaso los estudiantes,
incluyendo los "huelguistas", no se matricularon y pagaron la cuota o se aco-
gieron a una pr6rroga para pagar la misma? Es decir, ino se implement ya la
cuota? Acaso la asistencia de miles de estudiantes que vinieron a tomar classes
los primeros dos dias de este semestre (antes del incident de abuso policiaco
del 9 de febrero) no constituy6 un rechazo masivo a la estrategia huelgaria y
una prueba contundente de la ineficacia de esta? Mas a6n, se continue apoyan-
do incondicionalmente la "huelga" no empece sus efectos contraproducentes a
la defense del proyecto universitario a largo plazo.
Basta preguntarse, Ea quidn le conviene la "ingobernablidad" de la Uni-
versidad? NNo es acaso al gobierno? No es este estado de "ingobernabilidad"
el que invoca el gobierno para "justificar" su proyecto de desmantelamiento/
reestructuraci6n de la Universidad? ,No habria entonces que repensar este tipo
de estrategia pues parece corresponder a lo que precisamente quiere el gobierno
para darle "legitimidad" a su political hacia la Universidad? Por lo visto, tales
planteamientos no hacen mella entire los colegas que se reafirman en subsumir
sus posiciones a la estrategia de los estudiantes en "huelga".
Fungir como docentes implica tambi6n cuestionarnos la cultural anti-in-
telectual que menosprecia y desprecia la labor academica, particularmente el
process que se da en el sal6n de clase. Por supuesto que la Universidad no se


Public Education: Crisis and Dialogue at the University of Puerto Rico





CARLOS PAB6N


limita a lo que ocurre en el sal6n de classes. Claro que se hace universidad desde
muchos otros espacios. La universidad no es el 6nico espacio de producci6n
intellectual en el pais, pero si es un espacio privilegiado de producci6n de cono-
cimiento y cuestionamiento que hay que defender. Esto cobra mas importancia
ante un gobierno que quiere degradar este espacio y en el context de un pais
marcado por una fuerte cultural anti-intelectual de larga tradici6n. Mas aun,
se trata de una cultural que se ha reproducido entire importantes sectors en la
Universidad. Cabe preguntarnos ante la coyuntura actual de crisis universitaria,
ipor que y c6mo dar classes se convirti6 en una negaci6n de la defensea" de la
Universidad? Por que se opta con tanta facilidad por la "estrategia" de paralizar
las classes? Por que el menosprecio y desprecio a las classes y lo que alli ocurre
de parte de los sectors que han insistido en esta coyuntura que la "lucha por
defender" la Universidad es igual a paralizar las classes? Qu6 condiciones cultu-
rales y political han posibilitado que el anti-intelectualismo eche raices no s61o
entire "los administradores", sino tambien entire importantes sectors estudian-
tiles y del profesorado en la Universidad? oC6mo no reconocer que los propios
profesores hemos sido c6mplices y mas aun, que en demasiados casos hemos
fomentado esta cultural anti-intelectual y la mediocridad y la burocratizaci6n
que la acompafia en la Universidad?1
Mis interrogantes van dirigidas no s61o a los estudiantes que privilegian
la estrategia de paralizar las classes, sino particularmente a los profesores que
siempre apoyan esta estrategia de manera incondicional. Los profesores tene-
mos una gran responsabilidad en con la situaci6n de crisis por la que atraviesa
la Universidad pues no hemos sido capaces de asumirnos como un sector au-
t6nomo, es decir, con voz propia. Para mi, esa es una voz que debe defender
y auto-valorar, no degradar, la labor academica e intellectual a la que estamos
convocados en la Universidad. Es crucial afirmar la defense de nuestro espacio
que incluye la importancia de poder dar classes y llevar a cabo las demas labores
academicas sin interrupciones. De ahi que sea imprescindible como docentes
reclamar un compromise de los estudiantes huelguistas de no interrumpir estas
labores acad6micas. En este moment, es fundamental nuestra presencia en las
aulas y en todas las esferas del espacio universitario y mantener asi la continui-
dad de nuestra aportaci6n docente.

1 Para una important reflexi6n sobre este problema, ver el articulo de Juan Carlos
Quintero-Herencia, "Para la catistrofe" en Didlogo Digital. Se encuentra el articulo en
http://www.multitudenredada.com/2011/02/para-la-catastrofe-juan-carlos-quintero.
html.


SARGASSO 2011-12, I






FUNGIR COMO DOCENTES


La defense de la Universidad implica reafirmar y ocupar el espacio que
tenemos para pensar, discutir y reflexionar desde la Universidad para la Univer-
sidad. En este conflict es precisamente este quehacer el que esta en peligro y
por eso es que nos corresponde defenderlo. La actividad de pensar, como afirma
Hannah Arendt, es subversive pues siempre cuestiona lo establecido. Nuestra
labor como docentes es potenciar el pensamiento y para ello es fundamental
que defendamos el espacio privilegiado que es la Universidad y, si, el sal6n de
classes y los process que alli se dan que no son meros trimites burocriticos.
Fungir como docentes significa ocupar nuestras posiciones y hacer nuestras
contribuciones academicas en el espacio universitario: en el sal6n de classes, en
los centros de investigaci6n, en nuestros Departamentos y Facultades. Para ello,
la Universidad tiene que ser un espacio libre de toda presencia policiaca. Esto
es, libre de la policia que envia el gobernador, pero tambi6n libre de las men-
talidades policiacas que cobran cuerpos entire aquellos estudiantes y profesores
que no toleran la diferencia, ni la disidencia con sus posturas y que se arrogan
el monopolio de la representaci6n de la Universidad.
En la crisis actual los profesores hemos sido incapaces de construir una po-
sici6n aut6noma en tanto claustrales. Sin este posicionamiento seri impossible
tender los desafios urgentes e importantes que enfrentamos los profesores en
particular y los universitarios en general: el autoritarismo y la falta de demo-
cracia en los process y decisions en la Universidad, la permanent violaci6n
a la autonomia universitaria, el deficit presupuestario y los recortes que este ha
conllevado y, sobre todo, la reestructuraci6n de la Universidad con la imposici6n
a toda velocidad y sin consult alguna de la nueva ley universitaria que ha pro-
metido el gobierno. Estos son los retos que requieren de toda nuestra energia e
inteligencia reflexiva. Para enfrentarlos, los docentes debemos ocupar el lugar
que nos corresponde en cada uno de los organismos deliberativos para desde ahi
incidir directamente y redirigir el rumbo que esta llevando la Universidad. Hay
que exigirle a las autoridades universitarias y al gobierno que cualquier reform
y reestructuraci6n tiene que ser iniciada desde las bases de la propia comunidad
universitaria y mediante la participaci6n de todos los sectors que la conforma-
mos. Pero para ello, tenemos que empezar a actuar como docentes ya. Un buen
comienzo seria iniciar en cada facultad un process de discusi6n, analisis y deli-
beraci6n sobre la Ley Universitaria, la deseabilidad o no de una reform y una
evaluaci6n y ponderaci6n de los temas que mis directamente nos atafien.
Hasta ahora hemos estado gastando todas nuestras energies enfrentan-
do una vaguada, pero director hacia nosotros se dirige un huracan poderoso.


Public Education: Crisis and Dialogue at the University of Puerto Rico





CARLOS PAB6N


Convendria discutir c6mo lo enfrentamos. El primer paso es fungir como do-
centes.

POSTDATA

La semana pasada publiqu6 en la revista 80 grades un articulo titula-
do "Fungir como docentes" en el que cuestiono la forma en que los docentes
hemos enfrentado la actual crisis universitaria y present algunas propuestas
sobre c6mo podriamos actuar prospectivamente. Este articulo ha provocado
diversas reacciones (algunas de las cuales se podran tender en otro momento.
Me interest ahora tender brevemente una en particular. En dias recientes ha
circulado en la prensa un reportaje en el que la Presidenta de la Junta de Sin-
dicos, Ygrf Rivera, hace un uso acomodaticio y desafortunado de mi articulo,
pretendiendo usarlo como una cufia para dividir el profesorado y pasando por
alto convenientemente mis critics a las political de la Alta Administraci6n y
sus efectos en la Universidad. De otra parte, en la nota periodistica se cita de
manera fragmentada y selective algunos de mis planteamientos. El resultado es
que se descontextualizan y sobre-simplifican mis arguments que van dirigidos
a proponer una discusi6n entire los profesores.2
Segun el reportaje, Rivera haciendo alusi6n a mi articulo, sefial6 que esta
interesada en reunirse "con los profesores que integran esa gran mayoria y que
no los hemos escuchado a lo largo de todo este conflicto. Me interest enfatizar
de manera inequivoca algo que deberia ser obvio pero parece que no lo es: mi
articulo expresa mi punto de vista sobre los problems que se abordan; no re-
presento ni pretend representar a ningfin grupo de profesores y much menos
hablo por "esa gran mayoria" a la que alude Rivera. Reitero que el prop6sito
de mi articulo es contribuir a una discusi6n que me parece necesaria entire los
docentes y de ninguna manera soy portavoz de ningun sector. Es evidence que
ante esta crisis universitaria hace falta urgentemente un dialogo abierto de la
Alta Administraci6n con el sector docente en toda su diversidad. No obstante,
para esto es necesario que se abran y se hagan efectivos los canales instituciona-
les y deliberativos que han sido ignorados y socavados en los ultimos tiempos.
Por iltimo, esta nota periodistica ha servido para que algunas personas se
centren en ataques personales hacia mi que en nada abonan a la discusi6n que


2 Ver "Ygri Rivera escucharn a los profesores" por Inter News Service, ElNuevo Dia 20
de febrero de 2011.


SARGASSO 2011-12, I






FUNGIR COMO DOCENTES


debemos tener. No se trata de coincidir o no con lo que planted sino reconocer
la importancia del debate y continuar con la discusi6n de los puntos sustantivos
en tanto esta discusi6n podria contribuir a definir estrategias efectivas para
enfrentar nuestra situaci6n.


Public Education: Crisis and Dialogue at the University of Puerto Rico














































Durante un paro de 48 horas en diciembre 2011, una agencia privada contratado por la uni-
versidad, Capitol Security, contrat6 a j6venes de Loiza -muchos nunca habian ido al recinto
y ni sabian que estuvieron contratados por un conflict huelgario hist6rico- para intimidar
con palos y tubos a los estudiantes activists en el recinto de Rio Piedras. Despues que el lider
estudiantil Giovanni Roberto se dirigi6 a las guardias, estudiantes activists lograron acerca-
mientos y diilogo con algunos de ellos.










30 SARGASSO 2011-12, 1









DE CUANDO EL BARRIO ENTRO A LA UPR


Giovanni Roberto




La editor invitada para este nzimero de Sargasso invite al lider estudiantil
Giovanni Roberto a compartir una reflexidn sobre los incidents centre estudiantes
y "guardias" de la agencia de seguridadprivada Capitol Security' durante elparo
estudiantil de cuarenta ocho horas del 7y 8 de diciembre de 2010.
Despu6s de una noche tensa en el recinto en que se report que algunos "guar-
dias" atacaron a estudiantes con palos y tubos, Giovanni Roberto se dirigid a los
jdvenes personalmente, compartiendo memories de necesidad econdmica durante
las navidades de su ninez e invitdndolos a solidarizarse con la lucha estudiantil.
Roberto les asegurd que la luchapor una educacidn accessible era tambien su lucha,
pues el racismoy lapobreza, como la cuotay otras medidas de la administracidn
universitaria, son tambien formas de exclusion. El mensaje dio resultadospositi-
vosy ayudd a abrir espacios de intercambio entire algunas comunidadespobresy el
movimiento estudiantil. El mensaje fue grabado y difundido por Internet.2


D esde el final de la primera huelga enjunio de 2010, sabiamos que otro
conflict similar se avecinaba. Se trataba de la cr6nica de una huelga
anunciada donde ambos bandos -por un lado el gobierno y administraci6n uni-
versitaria, y por otro los estudiantes- se prepararon e intentaron ganar terreno
durante meses. Fue un tiempo duro de campafia ideol6gica e intimidaci6n, en
la que se combinaron el miedo a la perdida de la acreditaci6n de la Middle States
Commission ofHigher Education (MSCHE) y el terrible temor a que una nueva
paralizaci6n estudiantil provocara una maniobra de cierre administrative que
llevara a la privatizaci6n de la UPR.
Ambas ideas estaban basadas en falsedades. La MSCHE es una de varias
instituciones acreditadoras en Estados Unidos que se dedican a evaluar las ins-

1 Capitol Security es una companfia privada de seguridad con diversos contratos con el
gobierno. Hasta hace pocos meses, sus contratos sumaban casi dos millones de d6lares
con la UPR. Su contrato con la UPR fue recientemente terminado, en sustituci6n de
otra compafiia privada vinculada a maniobras antiterroristas del gobicrno de Estados
Unidos.
2 Video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xXzpbYB7Ndo


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DE CUANDO EL BARRIO ENTRO A LA UPR


tituciones educativas y a impulsar cambios en ellas. Algunas ayudas econ6micas
y fondos requieren estar acreditados por la MSCHE. Los cambios usualmente
responded a las nociones de costo eficiencia de cualquier empresa capitalist.
En su report evaluador tras la huelga, la MSCHE impuso una "probatoria"
en la acreditaci6n de la UPR que la administraci6n supo usar para crear un
clima de terror. El fatalismo llev6 a esparcir la idea de que una desacreditaci6n
de la MSCHE seria desastrosa, fatal, hasta terminal.3 Predomin6, en el fondo,
la mentalidad colonial que ve en las ayudas federales y el soporte del estado
estadounidense un pilar indispensable del progress y la estabilidad. La admi-
nistraci6n logr6 hacer career que la desacreditaci6n vendria automaticamente si
se iniciaba una nueva huelga.
La otra mentira, la del cierre temporero de la universidad para facilitar su
privatizaci6n parecia, de veras, una teoria mas probable. Se basaba en el proba-
do abandon de la UPR por parte de l@s administrador@s y el gobierno. Si al
gobierno no le importa ni le preocupa la UPR como proyecto academico, como
proyecto de pais, c6mo no career que serian capaces de cerrarla indefinidamente
para reabrirla luego bajo nueva administraci6n. La 16gica, sin embargo, hacia
abstracci6n de la funci6n de la universidad en la sociedad puertorriquefa de
hoy. ,Puede el gobierno darse el lujo de lanzar al desempleo a mas de cincuenta
mil j6venes? NNo hubiese provocado una crisis political el cierre abrupto de la
instituci6n de educaci6n mas important del pais? Permitirian un cierre de un
afio las empresas que esperan por mano de obra, proyectos e investigaciones?
Lo que sucedi6 a principios de diciembre de 2010 -la eliminaci6n de
todos los portones4 del Recinto de Rio Piedras y la tactica de contratar aj6ve-
nes pobres que agredieran y se pelearan con los estudiantes en paro- demos-
tr6 mejor que nada que toda esa narrative habia sido una mentira. Demostr6,
sin lugar a dudas, que el gobierno se lo jugaba todo para ponerle freno a la


3 Giovanni Roberto. "El fantasma del cierre y la desacreditaci6n de la UPR. "Socialis-
molnternacional.org. 5 de noviembre de 2010. Organizaci6n Socialista Internacional.
http://socialismointernacional.org/2010/11/05/el-fantasma-del-cierre-y-la-desacredita-
cion-de-la-upr/.
4 El Recinto de Rio Piedras esta rodeado por murallas de cemento y mis de diez porto-
nes que sirven para la entrada y salida de vehiculos y peatones. Desde principios de los
noventa, las huelgas han recurrido al cierre de los portones como la forma mais efectiva
para lograr una paralizaci6n de labores o de studio. Con un mensaje p6blico hip6crita
de apertura ("open campus"), la administraci6n universitaria elimin6 todos los portones
de los once recintos. Intentaban evitar una segunda huelga sistemica.


SARGASSO 2011-12,1






GIOVANNI ROBERTO


consistent y valiente movilizaci6n del estudiantado. Su estrategia era evitar el
paro y la negociaci6n a toda costa.
A los j6venes que contrataron les ofrecieron $10 la hora, en una isla con
mis de diecis6is por ciento de desempleo official y donde muchos salaries no
sobrepasan el minimo federal de $7.25 la hora. Usaron, segun confidencias
de los mismos j6venes dias despuds, a personal de la Oficina de Asuntos de la
Juventud del Municipio de Loiza, uno de los pueblos mas pobres y de mayor
poblaci6n negra en la isla. Cuando vi a los mis de cuarenta j6venes en la UPR
la noche del 5 de diciembre de 2010, lo que me sorprendi6 fue que la mayo-
ria eran personas negras. La composici6n social no habia que adivinarla, eran
tod@s pobres. Entre ellos habia muchachas j6venes en T-shirt, chancletas y con
pantallas; muchos pensaron que iban a trabajar como seguridad en un concier-
to.5 La composici6n racial me hizo un nudo en el est6mago. Soy algo sensitive,
podria decir, a las cuestiones raciales y al racism, sobre todo por algunas expe-
riencias vividas en Espafia en los mis de dos afios que vivi alli.
Desde que regres6, he podido ver mejor que antes la expresi6n del racis-
mo y la relaci6n entire el color de piel de algunas comunidades, y la pobreza y
marginaci6n en la que viven. Ahora toda esta realidad social se personificaba
alli, con camisa negra y pantal6n oscuro, mientras en letras amarillas grandes
y en el pecho podia leerse SECURITY. Ir6nicamente, nos visitaba ese Puerto
Rico que no llega a la UPR, y no solamente por lo que cuesta. Los aparatos de
exclusion son complejos y hay que buscarlos en muchas parties.
Les preguntamos de d6nde eran. Hubo silencio, imaginamos que les habian
dado instrucciones de no responder. "iDe d6nde son?", volvimos a preguntar.
Uno de ellos, que por la actitud supongo queria hacerse el mas bravo, contest
en tono claro y rebuscado: "soy de Carolina."6 Parecia el libretto de una mala
pelicula, en la que los personajes repetian cliches y frases construidas. El "chico
malo de Carolina", "los estudiantes que protestaban", "el Estado", y "la Policia"
luego. Les seguimos preguntando. Fue un buen ejercicio y nuestra actitud no

5 Poco despu6s, lideres comunitarios de Villa Cafiona, Loiza, denunciaron la manera
que se contrat6 los j6venes, con una conferencia de prensa al que se dio cubertura en el
diario Primera Hora y en el siguiente video de YouTube, titulado "Villa Cafona." Los que
hablan son lideres comunitarios conocidos de Loiza, Rafael Rivera y Mari Cruz, y un
maestro que ha trabajado alli con desertores escolares,Jos6 Ram6n Cuadra Flecha, y uno
de los j6venes contratados: .
6 Carolina es uno de los pueblos del noreste de la isla tradicionalmente identificado en
el imaginario national con la criminalidad y la delincuencia. Constituye junto a Loiza y
otros pueblos cercanos, una zona de pueblos prcdominantcmente negros.


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DE CUANDO EL BARRIO ENTRO A LA UPR


fue agredirlos, no estibamos molestos. En el fondo esperabamos que pasara
algo asi, que quitaran los portones o los soldaran. Habia ocurrido dias antes en
el Recinto de Carolina. Esperibamos toda la violencia del Estado porque ya la
estabamos recibiendo en forma de propaganda ideol6gica y de intimidaci6n.
Poco a poco fueron llegando mas estudiantes. Nadie habia discutido resistir,
no se nos habia ocurrido, a la mayoria, enfrentarnos a la policiapor los portones.
Los status en Facebook comenzaron a dar la noticia. Los mensajes de texto eran
cada vez mas claros y acalorados. Decian: "iiiEstan arrancando los portones!!!,
tod@s a la IUPI ahora!!!!!!!" Los residents de Resi Campus regaron la noticia y
fueron la base del primer contingent. En media hora sobrepasdbamos los cin-
cuenta; en la pr6xima hora sobrepasamos los cien con facilidad. En el port6n de
Bellas Artes la interacci6n entire nosotr@s l@s estudiantes y las personas con-
tratadas por Capitol Security comenz6 a tornarse mas tensa. Habia gente que
queria evitar que quitaran los portones, y con much indignaci6n gritaban; le
gritaban a "esa gente." Desde esa misma noche se comenz6 a escuchar uno que
otro comentario racist o clasista: "De d6nde habran sacado a estos matones?",
o los mas descarados: "De que barriada o caserfo los habran sacado?"
La suposici6n resultaba cierta, eran pobres de barrios, pero el sefialamiento
tenia una fuerte carga discriminatoria. Se decia con desprecio, se les gritaba a
ell@s y a la policia que se fueran a dar seguridad a otro lado y a veces se escu-
chaba una menci6n al sitio, al caserfo, a la barriada, al barrio. Fue un moment
de gran incomodidad para much@s, pues esos comentarios venian de huelguis-
tas o de familiares que apoyaban la lucha estudiantil. Algunos argumentaban
asi para intentar marcar el caricter violent y descabellado de los jerarcas de
la instituci6n vis a vis la imagen idealizada de pacifico centro docente de in-
telectuales y gente privilegiada. Era una idea a la cual much@s de l@s que
participamos de la huelga no podiamos adherirnos porque esepacifico centro do-
cente nunca ha existido. La metifora de la "Casa de Estudio" de Jaime Benitez7
regresaba escondida y renovada.


7Jaime Benitez fue primer president (1966-1971) y rector (1942-1966) de la UPR du-
rante sus anos de mayor crecimiento, y se recuerda por haber desarrollado la universidad
en su apogeo, aunque simultineamente se carpeteaba-o se levantaba expedientes-a los
disidentes universitarios (en cooperaci6n con el FBI). Benitez fue creador de la idea de la
UPR como una "Casa de Estudio", un centro universitariopacfico dedicado al studio pero
que no se involucra en la political del pais. Esto constituia una gran mentira, pues encu-
bri6 la persecuci6n a la disidencia political y lo vinculado que estuvo la UPR al desarrollo
del estado colonial conocido como Estado Libre Asociado. Todavia la noci6n de "Casa


SARGASSO 2011-12,1






GIOVANNI ROBERTO


Somos muchos los que rechazamos la idea de la universidad como un
mundo aparte, alejado del resto de las estructuras sociales, alejado de las classes
sociales. Para algunos en diciembre de 2010, la violencia pareci6 aflorar en
la UPR con Capitol Security, pero en realidad la violencia siempre ha estado
ahi, y se hizo cuota, se hizo piedra y escudo en moments, y lleva haci6ndose
exclusion y marginaci6n desde hace much. La universidad es uno de esos es-
pacios en los que la realidad social toda se mezcla de manera rara, compleja, y
es al mismo tiempo otra cosa. Hay que valorar positivamente el paso de estos
herman@s pobres hechos guardias en una noche porque nos record a tod@s
que ese Puerto Rico existe, pero tambi6n y sobre todo que el pais esti estruc-
turado sobre esa violencia.
Hubo una situaci6n particular que me doli6 y me hizo cambiar mental-
mente de tictica la noche antes que lograra comunicarles un mensaje a los
"guardias" la mafiana del 8 de diciembre de 2010. En el 2008 trabaje un se-
mestre como maestro en el pueblo de Loiza. Uno de los estudiantes de aquella
escuela estaba alli, al otro lado, de parte de la administraci6n y del gobierno.
Toda la noticia fue ampliamente cubierta por los medios de comunicaci6n,
quienes entrevistaron a various j6venes preguntando por que y a que venian a la
UPR. Ver a ese joven en la television me descorazon6. Senti rabia y tristeza,
pero confieso que no supe c6mo bregar. Esa noche dormi como tres horas, y
me levant todavia triste.
A mi no se me ocurri6 que una de las cosas que habia que hacer para ven-
cer a "estos guardias" era hablarles. No. No fue una reacci6n que me naciera
naturalmente; los que me conocen saben que soy bastante callado y reservado,
y que pocas veces hablo de mi vida, de mi nifiez o de mi familiar. La idea le na-
ci6 a Xiomara Caro, quien fue una de las portavoces principles de la segunda
huelga.8 Durante la noche anterior conversamos sobre c6mo abordar el asunto
de los guardias y nuestra conversaci6n nos llev6 a hablar de lo que teniamos en
comtsn con estos j6venes. Tambien hablamos del amor y del odio como fuerzas


de Estudio" es utilizada por administradores parajustificar la persccuci6n. V6ase: Las car-
petas: persecucidn political y derechos civiles en Puerto Rico: ensayos y documents por Ram6n
Bosque Perez yJos6 Javier Col6n Morcra (Ann Arbor, MI: Centro para la investigaci6n
y promoci6n de derechos civiles, 1997).
Se suelen distinguir las dos huelgas que se desarrollaron recientemente como la pri-
mera huelga (abril-junio 2010), y la segunda huelga (diciembre de 2010-febrero de 2011).
Muchos consideran que ambas huelgas son dos parties de un mismo process huelgario,
llamindole primer parte y segunda part respectivamente.


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DE CUANDO EL BARRIO ENTRO A LA UPR


vitales en las luchas, como energies poderosas para desarrollar la voluntad, la
convicci6n y el compromise para ser un actor social.
Todo eso se materialize con la propuesta de ir a hablarles a los guardias de
Capitol Security. Aclaro: no fue ni la primera ni la ultima vez que se hizo. De
hecho, en algunos portones, como los de la Facultad de Ciencias Sociales, no
solo hablaban sino que habia una especie de coordinaci6n entire los guardias y
los estudiantes. La tregua era tal, que nos permiti6, por esos dos dias de paro,
hacer el teatro de la represi6n y de la resistencia al mismo tiempo.9
Estoy convencido de que la educaci6n formal ha sido y continue siendo dos
cosas contradictorias: por un lado, eje de movilidad social, por otro, una estruc-
tura de diferenciaci6n social important. Pero cada vez mis, la educaci6n ha
perdido su utilidad como eje de movilidad y, por el contrario, su funci6n como
reproductora de la estructura social tiende a reforzarse, con el agravante de que
reproduce lo peor de la sociedad.
Por eso la lucha estudiantil en la UPR ha sido tan valiosa y debe, de algun
modo, reorganizarse y continuar. El estudiantado logr6 detener con las huelgas
una parte important de esa reproducci6n de las estructuras sociales. Al hacer-
lo, levant6 una critical que fue mis alli de los portones de la universidad y que
tuvo implicaciones para el resto del sosten ideol6gico del sistema. Al mismo
tiempo, cre6 models de participaci6n y poder desde las bases que, aunque
imperfectos, demuestran que las cosas pueden ser diferentes.
El incident con los guardias de Capitol fue important y positive, en mi
opinion, porque nos permiti6 apuntar al sistema capitalist mismo; a la exclusion
existente y que se esconde en la universidad con su apellido de "ptiblica"; a la
composici6n racial, de la que nadie habla; y a la necesidad de la unidad de l@s de
abajo, desde una perspective de clase. Algo de eso comenz6 a pasar despues que se
fue "la guardian" de Capitol tras el fin del paro de cuarenta y ocho horas. Algunos
huelguistas establecieron contacts en barrios y comunidades, y lograron conocer
e interactuar con algunos de los j6venes contratados aquellos dias.10 Rompimos


9 En la mayoria de los portones del Recinto de Rio Piedras habia j6venes que hacian las
funciones de "guardias" de seguridad, pero cuando las cimaras de television estaban lejos o
los supervisors no veian, estos j6venes, casi siempre en grupos de diez, interactuaban con
bastante normalidad con los estudiantes. En esos encuentros, en general, el movimiento
estudiantil comenz6 a entender la estrategia divisoria y clasista de la administraci6n. Y
muchos j6venes hechos "guardias" comenzaron a simpatizar con la causa estudiantil.
10 Los primeros contacts sucedicron casi de inmediato. Algunos lideres comunitarios
de Loiza y activists simpatizantes del movimiento estudiantil se reunieron. La primera


SARGASSO 2011-12, 1






GIOVANNI ROBERTO


la tactica de represi6n y le abrimos espacio a la unidad. La relaci6n entire el mo-
vimiento estudiantil con las comunidades no naci6, pero si se estimul6 cuando
estos j6venes entraron a la UPR en diciembre de 2010." El camino que nos
queda sigue siendo el de construir una sociedad que garantice una educaci6n de
excelencia y accessible para tod@s. Y en esa lucha estamos.
















% .Culto Final ACI



Anfiteatro Rafael Cordero
-, Faculted de Educaci6n
1- Ruta en carro
40 Por Tren Urbano



Un mapa de media milla cuadrada del Recinto de Rio Piedras ocupado por los estudiantes
huelguistas durante 62 dias, de abril ajunio de 2010. Como Seale y Roberto sefialan, el control
de los portones de entrada fue crucial para la ocupaci6n y como foco de tension durante el
conflict.




reuni6n con uno de los j6venes sucedi6 various dias despuds. Luego various estudiantes
visitaron Loiza para reunirse con otros j6venes. Y otros lideres comunitarios se acercaron
un poco mis al movimiento.
" Con el tiempo surgi6 un grupo de discusi6n y coordinaci6n que se llam6 "Somos es-
tudiantes, somos comunidad", para afianzar las relaciones entire el estudiantado y algunos
lideres comunitarios de Puerto Rico. Ese grupo de personas convoc6 reunions y activi-
dades de solidaridad con la huelga estudiantil que fueron importantes en el context de
la represi6n y persecuci6n del gobierno.
la represion y persecucion del gobierno.


Public Education: Crisis and Dialogue at the University of Puerto Rico











LEARNING TO PROTEST, FINDING MY VOICE:

ACCOMPANIMENT IN THE UNIVERSITY OF

PUERTO RICO STUDENT MOVEMENT

Katherine Everhart
Vanderbilt University



To accompany another person is to walk beside that
person; to become a companion; to be present. In ac-
companying, the professionally trained person chooses
the world of poor and working people as a theater of
action. By offering to tape-record the experience ofpoor
and working people, we are implicitly saying: "Your
life is important. It's worth my time to talk to you. It
may be worth your time to talk to me. People like me
need to know what people like you have learned.
-Staughton Lynd (1997: 37)


On my second day in Puerto Rico for a six week stay to conduct an eth-
nographic study on the student movement of the University of Puerto
Rico (UPR), one of my project informants told me of a protest scheduled for
that afternoon in Old San Juan. The protest was in reaction to the rapid expan-
sion of the university's Board of Trustees by Puerto Rico's state legislature, as
Governor Luis Fortufio approved four new appointees to the board (Stanchich
04 July 2010). For many of the students, the rapid expansion was seen as retali-
ation for their June 2010 strike victory, as Fortufio approved the expansion on
the same day students were celebrating successful negotiations with a majority
of the Board, after a 62-day campus occupation that had begun when the uni-
versity administration refused to negotiate canceled tuition waivers. These stu-
dents suspected that the state legislature and Fortufio intentionally appointed
board members that would be less likely to negotiate with the students in the
future. In protest, they picketed outside La Fortaleza, the governor's mansion
and official residence. When my informant asked me if I would like to attend,


Public Education: (risis and Dialogue at the University of Puerto Rico





KATHERINE EVERHART


I enthusiastically agreed. If I was to understand the student movement that I
had been watching from my home in Nashville through my computer, I needed
to attend this protest. As I packed my camera, tape recorder, and notebook, I
felt trepidation. How could I tell him this was my first protest? In my thirty-
four years, I had never attended any type of protest. Yet here I was on a grant
provided by my university to study and write about protest, and it was assumed,
produce a stellar dissertation about the UPR student movement.
I remember my hands trembling as I walked around the protest site at-
tempting to document the event. I remember feeling nervous when I saw the
police barricading the street. I remember seeing the faces of students that had
grown familiar through internet video. While my informant marched along-
side his compaierosy companeras, I stood off to the side. At one point, he mo-
tioned for me to join in, but I declined for several reasons. The primary reason
was that at the time I considered myself an objective researcher, participating
in the event but from a critical distance. Wouldn't this blur the lines between
subjectivity and objectivity? The more hidden reason was that I had yet to see
myself protesting or as an activist. I had yet to learn what it meant to walk side
by side with those I was researching as equals.
Tucked away in footnotes and methodological appendices, social scientists
detail their ethnographic research process (Bosk 2001). Among sociologists,
detailing the research methods) is a necessary component for all research;
however, sociologists-as-ethnographers -those who are sociologists by train-
ing, but prefer ethnography as their primary way of producing knowledge-
face multiple obstacles. These scholars are often forced to leave potentially
important details of self-reflexive experiences in the field to the margins of the
main findings of the publication. According to one observer, "There is a sense
in which one thing that all ethnographers do in appendices is ask their col-
leagues' forgiveness for various sins against method idealized" (Bosk 2001:
202). Many scholars, often outside of the discipline of sociology, critique how
social scientists detail their ethnographic research, questioning how compre-
hensive these accounts may be, as well as the ethical issues present (Berry and
Clair 2011; Bosk 2001; Davies 2007; Delgado-Gaitan 1993; England 1994;
Fortune and Mair 2011; Lynd 1997; Lynd and Grubacic 2008; Van Maanen
1991).
Ethical issues concerning research arise in all stages of ethnographic field-
work, from choosing a research site to gaining access and trust in the commu-
nity, to disseminating findings. Ethnographers regularly grapple with levels


SARGASSO 2011-12,1






LEARNING TO PROTEST, FINDING MY VOICE


of participation in the lives of those researched, particularly when utilizing the
tools of observation and interviews (Fortune and Mair 469).1 Of course eth-
nographers often attempt to immerse themselves in the site they are studying;
however, many methodological texts debate the appropriate degree of immer-
sion in the field-suggesting it is necessary to maintain a proper amount of
distance; however, there are no clear guidelines defining or measuring this dis-
tance. Various texts express concern that the researcher will fail to distinguish
between their role as the researcher and other roles the researcher may take on
during immersion-such as friend, confidante, colleague, roles that may impact
the researcher's ability to be scientifically critical in data collection and analysis
(Fortune and Mair 474; Patton 568; Tedlock 161). However, there are a hand-
ful of examples where scholars emphasize the importance of full immersion,
while in the field (Fortune and Mair 458; Schouten and McAlexander 46).
For example, in the ethnographic research by Schouten and Alexander (46)
on a Harley Davidson subculture, the authors describe their process of moving
from non-participant observers to a full immersion in the subculture, which
deepened their ethnographic understanding and produced positive outcomes,
such as a far greater access to participants (Fortune and Mair 469). The nature
of the close relationships formed during fieldwork has transformative potential
for both the researcher and those researched.2
Sociologists-as-ethnographers not only engage in research activities, but
build strong personal commitments that often last longer than their time in the
community they choose to study. In addition, while the researcher may often
maintain these commitments, once the research has ended, these commitments
may be quickly overshadowed by other considerations in the researcher's daily
life (Shaffir et al. 259). Fieldwork experiences can be the basis for friendships
that last beyond the period of fieldwork, so "ending relations in the field can be
similarly disconcerting, for both researcher and researched alike" (Grindstaff

1 Ethnography, among sociologists, tends to incorporate varied tools for exploring the
community of interest, such as in-depth interviews, participant and non-participant ob-
servation, archival analysis, and the mapping of both space and individuals. For sociol-
ogists-as-ethnographers, the intention is to fully explore all available data on the com-
munity of interest.
2 I utilize the phrase "those researched" to refer to the subject of ethnographic fieldwork.
While this phrase also feels problematic, I use it because it is the term commonly em-
ployed in work on accompaniment. The reductive nature of this terminology exposes
the tensions inherent in the boundaries drawn between the often distinct roles of the
academic researcher and individuals, from whom the researcher obtains data.


Public Education: Crisis and Dialogue at the University of Puerto Rico





KATHERINE EVERHART


278). Therefore, researchers should reflect on their own beliefs and identity
formations not only while in the field, but also after disengaging from the field.
Reflecting on these impacts may not only have positive impacts on the re-
searcher's life, but also on those researched. When the subject of ethnographic
research is a social movement, the stakes take on yet another dimension, as seen
in this discussion on social movement theory:

Positioned as the authoritative academic voice on social action, social move-
ment theory (despite moments of insight) has rarely moved far beyond aca-
demic discussions. This tradition is based on hierarchical practice, where
the researcher is not required to participate in movements and often writes
about them as an outsider. Consequently, the knowledge created by social
movement theory is often of little use to activists inside social movements
and does not allow them to map out the social relations of struggle... These
arbitrary distinctions often result in an inability to describe and account
for how social movements actually work and tend to increase the divide
between "activist" and "researcher" (Frampton et al. 13).

As I continue this research on the UPR student movement, and grapple with
my role as an outsider, the concept of accompaniment, and its radicalizing
ethos, as promulgated by Staughton Lynd, became particularly illuminating.
Staughton Lynd, an activist, academic, attorney, and historian, most known
for his involvement in the Mississippi Summer Project in the Civil Rights
Movement, was introduced to the term "accompaniment" from Archbishop
Oscar Romero of El Salvador (Lynd and Grubacic 52). The concept was origi-
nally defined as "to live amongst the poor and marginalized for a time, and to
assist, if possible, in articulating and transmitting their collective experience"
(Lynd and Grubacic xiii). For Lynd, as well as others who have gravitated to-
wards this concept, such as anarchist, sociologist, and activist Andrej Grubacic,
the concept takes on several distinct characteristics, as an extension of Arch-
bishop Romero's original definition.
Lynd outlines several characteristics of accompaniment: lived immersion
with the community being studied; the importance of documentation, appro-
priate methods and analysis; and lastly, how the researcher should become the
accompanied (Lynd 1997: 37). Before exploring these various characteristics,
one caveat is necessary-namely that the term is generally applied to research
focused on the poor and marginalized (Lynd and Grubacic 53). Yet we need
to consider the ways in which all ethnographic research is charged by such dy-


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LEARNING TO PROTEST, FINDING MY VOICE


namics. Regardless of the population the sociologist-as-ethnographer chooses
to study, whether adolescent elites at St. Paul's School (Khan 2010) or poor
black male vendors in Greenwich Village (Dunier 2000), there are always hi-
erarchies of power inherent in the research process, particularly when we uti-
lize ethnography that produces close relationships. Rachel Sherman makes
this point in her ethnographic account of luxury hotels. As she writes in her
methodological appendix, "I tend to believe that ethnographic research is in-
herently asymmetrical, no matter what the subject's social position, because the
researcher benefits from the research in a way that the subject almost always
does not, and the subject runs risks that the researcher does not incur" (284).
It is my assertion that accompaniment, utilized more broadly in ethno-
graphic research, profoundly addresses these issues. I will now explore the
various characteristics of accompaniment. The first aspect of accompaniment
is living among members of a specific community, but perhaps more specifi-
cally, to learn about the cultural context in which said community lives (Lynd
37). The second aspect is the importance of documenting the lives of others,
particularly in cases where these voices are often silenced (Lynd 38). These
two characteristics have implications for the third issue, namely that of meth-
odology and analysis. For ethnographers to become fully immersed, they will,
as Lynd states -live among the community- which means data might be drawn
from any number of places, observations, media coverage, popular culture, or
even reactions by outsiders regarding the group or research. Lynd suggests we
also critically examine how we analyze, interpret, and share our research (42).
One such interrogation might involve verification of the researcher's anal-
ysis of the data. Many scholars do not return to those researched to share
their analysis and interpretation with the researched; however, the process that
enables an analytical conversation between the researcher and the research may
enrich ethnographic research. Generally, researchers seek out major themes
and trends in their data through a process of coding data that relies on rep-
etition. For example, in my own research while trying to identify the ways
in which different art forms were utilized within the student movement at
the UPR, during analysis I would code my observations and interview data
in ways that begin to find similar answers among numerous interviewees, for
the purpose of eventually presenting robust findings. There is the potential
for researchers to falsely represent those researched in the process of coding
data, for example by presenting only a subset of the statements provided by
informants in the findings. But by sharing interpretation and analysis of data


Public Education: Crisis and Dialogue at the University of Puerto Rico





KATHERINE EVERHART


with those researched, scholars could additionally lessen the chances of misrep-
resentation; such efforts could also decrease the likelihood that the researched
may feel manipulated in the ethnographic process. In more technical fields,
it may be difficult to share interpretations with the community studied, but
within the social sciences -particularly within the field of social movements
and activism- this process of sharing data with those researched can enrich
the research experience for both the researcher and those researched.
Another characteristic of accompaniment relates to the process of dissem-
inating the knowledge or research produced during ethnographic fieldwork.
Often, academics spend hours crunching data, coding interview material, and
analyzing findings with the main intention of publishing an article or book
that never reaches those who helped generate the data. To incorporate ac-
companiment, more scholars should consider how to make their findings avail-
able to a wide variety of individuals, particularly in the community researched.
Not only would this help ensure more accurate representation, it would also
activate interplay between the knowledge(s) and skills of both researcher and
researched. As Denis O'Hearn writes, "Accompaniment goes both directions.
Sometimes, if not always, we find that when we take our expertise to someone,
we learn from each other. The accompanist becomes the accompanied" (Lynd
and Grubacic xvi). This is the essence of accompaniment-a dialogic interac-
tion, as both the accompanied and the accompanist teach and learn together.
Similarly, this has implications for the researcher to explore ways in which they
may occupy both the role of an activist and that of a scholar.
Lastly, it is important to be aware of the potential for uncritical endorse-
ment for the groups we study, particularly if they are disadvantaged or mar-
ginalized, where scholars may have lost their ability to critically analyze data
due to their identification with those researched. The issue is that solidarity or
identification with the community studied may result in the researcher repre-
senting the interests of the community without producing rigorous scientific
findings. However, this presents significant obstacles, particularly for those
researching a group they experience solidarity with -such as my research with
the student movement- or a group in which they hope to help- such as
community-based research on an impoverished neighborhood.
It is necessary to deconstruct the hierarchies that exist in academic research
in a way that may enrich the lives of both the researcher and those researched.
Lynd, in an almost defensive tone, asserts this sentiment several times:


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LEARNING TO PROTEST, FINDING MY VOICE


On the one hand, the professional, whether journalist, minister, doctor, law-
yer, teacher, or whatever-must feel a profound respect for the insights and
perspective of his or her collaborator. On the other hand, as Archbishop
Romero stressed in his pastoral letters about "accompaniment," there can
be no place for a false deference whereby the associate romanticizes and
exempts from criticism the experience of the activist. (Lynd 1997: 138)

In this way, it is important to recognize that accompaniment is more than sim-
ply engaging in dialogue with the researched. It is more than simply sharing
data for the purposes of publication. It is rejecting the role of the academic
who must speak for a group of disadvantaged or marginalized people, or pro-
duce knowledge about a group independent of them. Rather, accompaniment
is about producing new knowledge together. It is a process of ethnographic
fieldwork that is enriched by collaboration with the researched, as well as mak-
ing transparent the personal and political implications for both the researcher
and those researched.

ACCOMPANIMENT AND THE UPR STUDENT MOVEMENT

During the summer of 2010, I began my fieldwork in Puerto Rico on the stu-
dent movement of the UPR. For the purposes of this essay, I do not intend to
provide a history of the movement, but rather focus on the relationships that I
developed in the field-and their impacts on both the student movement of the
UPR and my own personal transformations.
During this first summer, I attended approximately twelve to fifteen pro-
tests, marches, and demonstrations. As always, I stood to the side, an "objec-
tive researcher," documenting with film and photographs, scribbling illegible
notes in my tiny notebook, and collecting hours upon hours of data. One
afternoon, during a protest of sanctions against several student leaders, rang-
ing from fines for disruption of the university to full suspension, I assumed my
"objective researcher" role, off to the side, notebook in hand. A professor I had
come to know during my time on the island motioned to me to join. Again, I
declined. Later, over several Medalla beers, we discussed why I had not joined
the march. I robotically recounted my training about the role of the researcher,
citing well-worn debates in the discipline. He paused and looked at me per-
plexed. The contradiction between my passionate desire to study the student
movement and the ways in which I conceptualized the role of the researcher
simply did not make sense to him. There are multiple reasons to explain our


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KATHERINE EVERHART


misunderstanding, which seem to stem from the sociological approach in the
continental United States, which generally draws strong boundaries between
those who conduct research (often referred to as "pure sociology") and those
who engage in activism (or what may be referred to as "public sociology").
While some famous scholars have had the privilege of combining these roles
to become seen as "public intellectuals," this is something mid-career graduate
students and non-tenured faculty may avoid out of fear of being perceived as
simply studying "your own backyard."
However, during this first research trip, I found the lines began to blur be-
tween my perceptions of my role as a researcher and my role as an activist. On
the afternoon of June 30, 2010, a protest was scheduled for the state capitol.
Unfortunately, I was unable to attend. As the afternoon progressed, I began
to receive word of terrifying acts of violence and police brutality occurring at
the capitol. Text messages, Facebook posts, images, videos, and news reports
flooded the apartment in which I was living. Students were being beaten.
Students were being pepper-sprayed. And even as I write this, I still remember
vividly and corporally the feeling of sitting in the living room, pouring over
these images, while my roommates helped translate news reports for me. I was
devastated. Tears welled up in my eyes. And just like that, the line blurred.
Some might say I had become "too" passionate about my research subject.
The first time I marched side by side with students and citizens of Puerto
Rico was on July 18, 2010. Several organizations had called for a "National
March" in protest of the violence at the capitol. Starting from several different
locations, we would march to a central location and voice our opposition. We
would tell the government and police force of Puerto Rico that this type of vio-
lent repression of basic civil rights would not be tolerated. Notice the change
in pronoun here, because for the first time, I felt a sense of"we-ness," in that
I marched all through those streets with university students in Puerto Rico in
what was my first political act as an activist. However, I never abandoned my
role as a researcher. I would run ahead of the march to take photographs. I
marched with notebook in hand, taking notes of the event. I was a researcher
and activist in solidarity with the student struggle for accessible and affordable
quality higher education. As a researcher, I had been transformed; however,
this is merely one aspect of accompaniment-as I had yet to discover how my
own work in the field could also produce a dialogic relationship between my
scholarly work and the day-to-day actions of the student movement.
One weekend in late September, I came to fully understand the cyclical


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LEARNING TO PROTEST, FINDING MY VOICE


nature of accompaniment. I had been accepted to present my research on the
UPR student movement at the Caribbean Philosophical Association annual
conference, held at Rutgers University in September 2011, and which that year
focused on the crisis in public higher education. As the date neared, I learned
that I would be presenting alongside two colleagues -Maritza Stanchich and
Alessandra Rosa- who have also been researching the UPR student movement;
however, even more intimidating, I learned that three of the student leaders,
namely Giovanno Roberto Caez, Adriana Mulero Claudio, and Ren6 Reyes,
had been invited to speak at the conference. Immediately I wondered: would
they attend my presentation? In a few moments, this wonderment was fol-
lowed by panic. How was I to present my research on the UPR student move-
ment in front of the very individuals who helped spearhead the movement?
The morning of my presentation, I looked to the back of the room to
find three familiar faces-these three student leaders from the movement. We
greeted and embraced one another. As much as I felt comfort in seeing their
faces, my shaky hands told another story. Before our session began, I leaned in
to my esteemed colleagues and said, "I'm more nervous about presenting this
research to the students than I am to the rest of the room." Finally, it was my
turn to present. During my presentation, the students took pictures. They
smiled broadly and nodded their heads.
Focusing on the 62-day campus occupations in 2010, I noted that much
of the time students engaged in constructing an alternative way of life, and I
explored the aesthetic and cultural dimensions of the UPR student movement.
Particularly striking was the use of art and aesthetics by the students and their
supporters in the form of flyers, murals, protest songs, poetry, photographs,
videos and street theater. The proliferation of art within the student move-
ment has differentiated it from previous strikes on the island and has been
cited as a reason it attracted broad support. As I presented my final slide con-
veying my research questions for my dissertation research-which grapple with
the issues of utilizing artistic and cultural performance within the movement, I
saw faces that reflected contemplation.
After the session ended, I was anxious to hear responses on the presen-
tation from my colleagues, the student leaders, and audience. Immediately,
one of the student leaders, Rene Reyes, whom I had not had an opportunity
to meet personally during my two summers of field research, approached me
enthusiastically, telling me how excited he was about my research and how
he hoped I might be able to present this research at the UPR, to share my


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KATHERINE EVERHART


perception of the movement to more members of the student body. Later that
afternoon, over lunch, the student leaders informed me that the debates and
tensions I raise in my research concerning the role of the arts in the student
movement -such as the potential of the arts to ameliorate tensions and con-
voke broader participation- are precisely the same issues various groups in-
volved with the movement are currently debating. More importantly, they told
me how my presentation on the 62-day occupation -particularly the culture of
the campsites and the vibrant art effervescence- reminded them of important
dynamics of the movement that had been overshadowed, given the widespread
repression and police brutality that ensued during subsequent rounds of the
movement, such as the police occupation of the university in December 2010
and violent incidents in February and March 2011. For the first time, I felt as
if these students had helped me in producing not only the data, but also the
analysis of my dissertation research; in turn, I had added to their retrospective
analysis of the historic strike.
In addition, one student leader, Giovanni Roberto Caez, said to me, "I just
realized during the session that people are researching and writing about the
movement-outside of Puerto Rico, about the legacy of the movement." Con-
sidering the dire situation the student movement currently continues to face
at UPR, I hope reflecting on my research would help buoy and broaden their
sense of mission. Roberto Caez's statement also resonated with my desire to
forge connections toward an understanding of the problematic relationship be-
tween Puerto Rico and the United States, which included the near invisibility
of Puerto Rico in major outlets of US news coverage.
Later that evening, I joined the student leaders and my colleagues for din-
ner and drinks at a nearby restaurant. The day before I arrived at the confer-
ence, I had spent a couple of hours at Occupy Wall Street, which was in its
second week. I recounted observations of the organization and practices of the
Wall Street occupation to the student leaders, and encouraged them to visit it,
as I felt they had much to impart to those occupying Zuccotti Park. In the res-
taurant that evening, we launched into a debate on tactics and organizational
styles. In particular, we were discussing the most recent radical tactics that had
been used in the movement -and as the violence against the Chancellor-
and in what ways the differences between the organizational styles of the UPR
occupation and the Occupy Wall Street movement may contribute to different
outcomes. Is it possible that organizing primarily by logistical needs -such
as security, kitchen, library, arts committee- might re-produce existing hier-


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LEARNING TO PROTEST, FINDING MY VOICE


archies found in the labor market, dependent on which "role" activists play in
the movement in comparison to organizing by academic discipline-such as
social sciences, humanities, or education? What impact did the incident with
the Chancellor have on the overall movement? What could the activists from
the UPR teach the Occupy Wall Street activists and vice-versa? What might
we learn from comparing both groups?
In the middle of debating with the student leaders over the usefulness of
certain tactics and the purposes of utilizing an organizational style that pro-
vokes discussion and debates, I realized I was experiencing accompaniment. At
that moment, not only was I able to provide insight from my research, but I was
able to debate with individuals engaged in the movement as praxis. We were
having a conversation, one that in some way they may take back with them to
the conversations they continue to have about the ongoing struggle. This was
no longer just me, as a scholar, making observations to publish in an academic
journal, which may or may not be read by those engaged in the movement,
nor was it an assumption that my sociological analysis could provide insight to
student activists that they were unable to find on their own, but rather, it was
a dialogic conversation-it was accompaniment. Back at my hotel room later,
I wrote in my journal, "I finally found my voice. I argued with the students of
the UPR about politics and movements." In essence, these UPR students had
taught me how to become an activist. I became the accompanied.
The impact of these lessons did not stop here, but rather, they have fol-
lowed me into the days I returned to Nashville. On the date of the first sched-
uled rally for Occupy Nashville, I prepared for the rally, reflecting upon expe-
riences during my summers in Puerto Rico as I packed a bag with food and
water. Wanting to pay tribute to the UPR students and movements globally,
I painted a slogan in red paint: "Toma La Calle. Occupy Together." As I got
dressed, I carefully pinned my UPR button on my shirt. One of the first events
of the rally was a reading of the formal statement released by the Occupy Wall
Street protesters, using the human microphone. At first I felt nervous about
raising my voice loudly to repeat each line, but then I remembered my com-
panerosy companeras at the University of Puerto Rico. I remembered the way
they confidently raised their voices in protest. I remembered how through my
interactions with them, I learned to debate, to defend my own position, and to
ask the questions that can't always be easily answered as we seek to create al-
ternative ways of forging politics. And so, I raised my voice loudly. I screamed
the chants alongside my colleagues, "What does democracy look like? This is


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KATHERINE EVERHART


what democracy looks like" and "We. Are. The. 99. Percent." I screamed so
loudly that I lost my voice the next day. Accompaniment.
Although my involvement with Occupy Nashville has been limited by my
academic obligations as a graduate student, which further illuminates the ten-
sions between the worlds of academia and activism, I have spent time attend-
ing rallies, and communicating my findings from the UPR student movement
to some members of the occupation. While my involvement has been limited,
I am nonetheless surprised to see how little time my social movement col-
leagues -not only in Nashville, but across the US- have taken to visit the occu-
pations in their respective locations. Often they rely on second-hand accounts
and media coverage to learn about the movement. This disjuncture between
progressive academics and activists ultimately frustrates me. Invisible lines are
drawn between what it means to cross the line from one role to the other-in an
assumption that mutually occupying both roles is not possible, or desirable. If a
researcher actively participates in a movement, questions inevitably arise about
their ability to critically analyze the movement. However, accompaniment is
ultimately about learning that we, as researchers, can act as both activists and
academics-and operate between the spaces of the researcher and researched.

CONCLUSION

In this essay, I have explored the ways in which my research on the student
movement of the UPR during the course of twelve weeks urged me to critically
examine my own personal and academic transformations during my fieldwork.
From attending my first protest in my life during my first summer of field-
work to participating as an activist in the Occupy Nashville rallies, I questioned
whether previous studies had spoken to the transformations experienced by
the sociological ethnographic researcher. I found this was related to numer-
ous ethical issues in the methodology about the relationships formed while
conducting ethnography. To address these issues, I argue here for the incor-
poration of the concept "accompaniment." Utilizing accompaniment in so-
ciological ethnographic fieldwork illuminates the potential to create a dialogic
relationship between both the researcher and the researched, in ways that en-
riches not only the research, but the lives of the researcher and the researched.
The incorporation of accompaniment is especially necessary in ethnographic
research on protest, activism, and social movements, given the disconnection
between the work of social movement scholars and activists. Furthermore,


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LEARNING TO PROTEST, FINDING MY VOICE


scholarship on social movements is generally used to advance the academic
work of the scholar, rather than to benefit the activists or the social movement
as a whole. Possibilities of collaboration abound. For example, activists might
benefit from learning about the cycles of protest or the ways in which some
movements are able to get more media attention in comparison to others-all
present in the scholarly research. Considering the increase in protest and ac-
tivism -and subsequently, scholarly research on protest and activism- scholars
of social movements should especially take note.
While accompaniment can enrich both academic research and the lives of
the individuals that we research, drawing connections between these two dis-
tinct spheres means challenging ideas about the ways research should be con-
ducted within academia. It is necessary, particularly in sociology, to confront
the norms of professional lives that aid in reproducing an academic sphere that
is insular, fragmented, and depoliticized (Boggs 451). "For a truly critical in-
telligentsia to flourish within American university life, therefore, the academic
setting requires fundamental transformation. A broadening public sphere is
the sine qua non of any such revitalization" (Boggs 456). However, even as I
write this, I feel pressured to consider the potential harm such a stance may
cause to my own academic career. As sociologists-in-training, we hear stories
about the ways in which junior faculty find it necessary to delay writing articles
about certain subjects until they are granted tenure. Yet the most important
lesson I learned in taking on the role of activist during fieldwork, is that stand-
ing implicitly "off to the side" and allowing the hegemonic norms of our disci-
pline to dictate our behaviors may rob us of the transformative potential of our
work.


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KATHERINE EVERHART


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