A wave of occupations has swept the coasts of the United States. In December 2008, students at the New School for Social Research in New York City occupied their main building for three days while hundreds of supporters cheered outside. After winning some demands, they left and vowed to be back. On February 19, 2009, students and friends at New York University occupied their student centre, in solidarity with the people of Gaza, to protest high tuition, and to demand the disclosure of all of NYU’s investments. After three days, the students were detained by security and forced to leave. On April 10, 2009, students and allies occupied the New School again, claiming the building at 65 Fifth Avenue as a free social space and demanding the resignation of the university president. This occupation lasted only seven hours before hundreds of police, called in from all over the city, arrived and arrested 19 people inside and three outside the building.
On September 24, 2009, students at the public University of California schools walked out across the state in protest of the UC schools’ Regents, who were that day debating an historic 32 percent tuition hike to solve their budget crisis. At UC Santa Cruz, students successfully occupied the Graduate Centre for a week. The lesson was learned: occupation is on the table. On November 18 and 20, when the Regents met, schools up and down the coast were occupied, locking down hallways from UCLA to Berkeley, Santa Cruz to Davis, SFSU to Fullerton. On the March 4, 2010 national day of action, more students occupied, resisted, blockaded, rioted, and disrupted the normal functioning of their universities and cities. This roundtable brings together three groups who have been active in the occupations in New York and California to consider the role of these occupations, and their implications for radicals outside the university.
Anti-Capital Projects (California) – One of the groups involved in some of the occupations at UC Berkeley and elsewhere in the Bay Area.
Architects of the Negation (Santa Cruz, California) – A group interested in putting occupation as a tactic on the table and seeing where it can go.
Dead Labour (NYC) – After barricading doors and fighting leftists at the first New School occupation, facilitating a Hegel reading group in the middle of the NYU occupation, mooning the crowd in the second New School occupation, and after studying Das Kapital and reading some Endnotes, this group came together to answer other people’s questions.