Friday, November 25, 2011

Email from #OccupyUCDavis to #UCDavis faculty - Call for a General Strike

Just got this email about the call for a General Strike apparently from OccupyUCDavis folks. It was from someone I do not know named Eric Lee. Not sure if he is a UC Davis student or not.

Dear UC Davis Faculty Member,

On behalf of the 99.5% of students, faculty, and workers who voted in favor of a General Strike to be held this coming Monday, November 28th, we are asking that you cancel your scheduled classes or hold your class on the quad this coming Monday in solidarity with your fellow community members against the terrible acts of police brutality committed this past week on our campus.

Our call for a walk-out lies on a series of undeniable principles of equality and democracy that we all share:

1) The right to peacefully redress government for grievances of social inequality under the first amendment

2) The right to not be brutally beaten for exercising these rights

3) Teachers, TAs, professors, faculty, and staff have the right to tenure and a fair wage

4) Education is a social right and fee-increases and budget cuts are unnecessary given the obscene plundering of the economy by the richest Americans over the past years

5) The fight for education is synonymous with the fight for equality in all social realms: housing, food, healthcare, transportation, energy, etc.

6) The US Government’s prioritization of war and tax cuts for the rich above social services for working Americans is unjust and should be reversed

This is a call to join the walkout against police brutality and social inequality. We are making space and facilities (white boards, etc.) available for all who are interested in holding class on the quad. Any special requests by teachers and faculty will be accommodated to the best of our ability.

Please respond to this email letting us know which of the three options you will be choosing:

a) I plan to cancel all classes Monday

b) I plan to hold classes in the quad Monday

c) I do not plan to cancel classes and I do not support the fight for public education

Please let us know of your plans ASAP.

Thank you for your cooperation!

-Occupy UC Davis
- - -
Note: A link to the General Strike proposal can be found here:

Not sure how I feel about much of what is in this message (actually - messages since there is a lot of stuff in here). I note - I am not a fan of their request for responses where the only no option is "I do not plan to cancel classes and I do not support the fight for public education". Well, as I have said here, I am not sure how I feel about the plan for cancel classes but I strongly support public education. I note I am a big supporter of many parts of the OccupyUCDavis movement that I have seen. But the tone here suggests that if you are not with them on this, then you are against them. I don't like that style since I thought I was one of them in some ways. In addition, the vote that was held (if he is referring to the vote at the Assembly Monday) did not include faculty or workers as far as I know since I thought it was a student vote. At least, that is what people told me when I was there - I would have voted actually - but was told it was a student vote.

I note - as of 30 minutes ago I was planning on doing a teach in on Monday in the Quad and still hope to. But I confess I am a bit worried about the direction and tone of the OccupyUCDavis movement based on this email.

UPDATE - I presume this "Eric Lee" is the same as the one who wrote the following:
The “Pepper Spray Incident” and the Inevitable Radicalization of the UC Student Body


  1. Some comments from Twitter:

    kbradnam Keith Bradnam
    @phylogenomics The opening sentence is very misleading. Guess it was 99.5% of those that voted. Certainly not 99.5% of all students+faculty

    KSBruno9 Kenneth Bruno
    @phylogenomics I agree with your take.i don't like the way the argument is being framed. Option: I support you but I need to work.

    Merz Alex Merz
    @phylogenomics To cancel class is absurd dereliction teacher's duty & the message is coercive. #owngoal #occupyucdavis

  2. I think the people organizing this are unclear on how strikes work. Who is exactly going to fulfill these demands? Some of them (like reigning in their police force) maybe the university has some control over, but it's not like the university is raising fees out of a nefarious scheme to profit off of the students, but rather the need to balance their books.

  3. Yes, JB - the concept of a strike seems a bit off. A rally? That would make sense. A march? That too. But a strike seems strange to me.

  4. Note - here is the letter I wrote back to Eric Lee in response to his message


    Thanks for the email. I commend you for you work for justice (in many aspects). I do not teach Monday and I note I am a supporter of many aspects of the OccupyUCDavis movement. However I personally think you should have had a few other options to respond including "I support public education but am not planning on canceling classes" and "I am not canceling classes" and "I am not teaching Monday but plan to support the strike"

    The tone here sounds a bit like the rhetoric of the right wing in the US "if you are not with us, you are against us" and I think it will not help the movement ...

    I note I am hoping to teach on the Quad on Monday and again I support much of what seems to be planned. But I hope the movement has more room for different approaches than implied (perhaps accidentally) in your email.

    Prof Jonathan Eisen

  5. Got a nice, thoughtful response to my email from Eric Lee. I do not have permission to post it at this time but I think he understands that the message may have been a bit pushy. He said they believe that they need more faculty support to keep the movement going and this was just an attempt to encourage faculty to come out and help. Like I said - I plan to try to help out and do a teach in --- just am hoping that the movement does not become too single minded.


Most recent post

Panoramas from the past ...

In 1997, my then girlfriend (now wife) and I went camping in Death Valley. It was our fourth trip there to camp in grad. school. I brought m...