by: Shani Chabansky on August 24th, 2012 | 4 Comments »
UC Santa Cruz Jewish and non-Jewish student protesters. Credit: Matt Borden.
Two months ago, UC President Marc Yudof’s Advisory Council on Campus Climate, Culture and Inclusion released a report on the experiences of Jewish students on UC campuses. Co-authored by Rick Barton, a council member of the Anti-Defamation League, and Alice Huffman of the California NAACP, the report marks the culmination of what many have come to see as an attack on free speech and academic freedom under the disguise of protecting Jewish students from criticism of Israel.The following letter is a response to the report from an organization of UC professors and other academics who are focused on maintaining free and open academic debate.
Please sign this petition if you would like to urge President Yudof to disregard the report.
Dear President Yudof,
We, the California Scholars for Academic Freedom** write to urge you not to adopt the recommendations of the Jewish Student Campus Climate Report. We find the report’s recommendations pose a clear threat to academic freedom at the University of California. First, the report is based on sloppy methodology and clear bias. A comparison with the Muslim and Arab Student Campus Climate Report is instructive. The latter explains exactly how many people they spoke with, how they were put in touch with them, and lists their names and affiliations. The Jewish Student Campus Climate Report merely implies that they spoke with a range of people but never specifies with whom and how they were chosen. In fact, the two people who conducted the Jewish Student Campus Climate Report appear to have spoken almost exclusively with those who would like to silence criticism of Israel on UC campuses.
Second, the Muslim and Arab Student Campus Climate Report explains in great detail the exact nature of the discrimination that Muslim and Arab students experience on UC campuses, while the Jewish Student Campus Climate Report quotes unnamed people as feeling upset about criticisms of Israel. In fact, the report focuses almost exclusively on criticism of Israel as a supposedly objective measure of anti-Semitism while giving short shrift to the broad range of Jewish student experiences on UC campuses. The Jewish Student Campus Climate Report, despite a brief one-sentence disclaimer, essentially equates criticism of Israel with anti-Semitism, despite having to acknowledge that much of this criticism comes from Jewish faculty and students.
Last evening I attended the Global Women’s Leadership Network graduation for a group of amazing women who will now head off to spend the next six months working on projects to improve lives and make the world a better place. A young man approached me during the reception afterwards and introduced himself. He is an engineering student at Santa Clara University and was attending the ceremony as an assignment for a class focused on women in engineering. I asked him how many men and how many women were in the course. “Five men and two women.”
Interesting, don’t you think?
Empowering girls around the world to get equal education, especially in areas of math, science, medicine, and engineering, was a common theme among the dreams that last evening’s graduates had for their work. Sally Ride, who passed away this week after a battle with cancer, would have been there applauding these women and I think the discussion with the young Santa Clara engineering student would have been quite fun.
From Two Jewish Social Justice Advocates
Dear Reverends and Church-goers,
Interfaith delegation including young Jews and rabbis with Jewish Voice for Peace who advocated for boycott and divestment at the Presbyterian General Assembly.
We are writing to you as two young American Jews who have just seen something extraordinary. Last week we were guests at the 220th Presbyterian Church (USA) General Assembly in Pittsburgh where we witnessed the historic plenary vote to boycott Israeli settlement products. We congratulate you as people of faith for aligning your practice with your values and taking a principled stand. Mazel tov!
At the General Assembly we watched Christian clergy and laypeople engaging in dialogue on a very difficult topic – the Israeli occupation of the West Bank – with respect, grace, and open hearts. It is a true blessing to walk the path of peace with you in solidarity. Both of us have spent years educating ourselves on the issues, traveling to Israel and Palestine, and researching companies complicit in the Occupation.
by: Wendy Kenin on June 26th, 2012 | 2 Comments »
There is citizen journalism and then there is photographic philanthropy, and they each serve a purpose. I have been covering Occupy events in my area by shooting photos and making them available on flickr, as well as tweeting them around. A few publications have asked me to post to their sites as a citizen journalist, but I haven’t taken that step yet.
April 26, though, I shot an event that wasn’t about Occupy. It was a photographic exhibit called “Facing Forward” by volunteer Marsha Guggenheim that displayed beautiful profiles of women who had graduated from the Community Health Worker Training Program of the Homeless Prenatal Program, alongside short blurbs about their success stories.
The opening event was packed. Like Occupy, it was a mixer of all kinds of people – culturally and economically. I find it the most powerful when philanthropist types come together in the same space with the economically disadvantaged people being served, with shared goals.
I don’t know what sort of graduation ceremony typically happens for women who graduate the Community Health Worker program, but this event was a truly high and joyous celebration of the 132 women who have graduated from the program since its inception in 1995.
by: Miki Kashtan on June 1st, 2012 | Comments Off
by Miki Kashtan
There are people in this world who can show their wounds only by inflicting them.
– Aurora Levins-Morales
I have been deeply touched by the many responses to myrecent post about bullying. So many questions and topics have come up, that rather than responding to specific comments, I thought I would collect them and respond in one post. I see the entire question of bullying as deeply significant, capturing in it so much of what I want to transform in how we overall relate to each other in the world, and to our children in particular. I imagine that every child learns deep lessons from the prevalence of bullying and from seeing how bullying is handled. I want those lessons to be ones that will support them in trusting the possibility of workable systems and human relations, and in their own capacity to make a positive difference in life around them. If even a few parents or teachers are inspired to shift the environment within which bullying happens, it would give me the satisfaction of having made a difference myself. My hope and vision are far bigger, which if you read this blog regularly you already know anyway…
My Own Path
I was asked how I was able to transcend what happened to me and come to a place of being open and vulnerable. I am not surprised this question is coming up. I have pondered some version of this question for years. It seems big and huge to me. While it seems pretty commonly accepted these days that people who act violently toward others were themselves previously traumatized and often abused, it is equally clear that not all those who are abused pass the violence on to others. If I understood fully what made it never appealing for me to inflict harm on others, not even in my fantasies, perhaps I could use this understanding in supporting others. Why is it that what was most painful for me was my inability to understand why anyone would treat me, or anyone else, the way I was treated? Much more painful than the actual experience of leaning against a tree all night and shivering. The more I am able to understand, the more calm there is in my heart.
Felt red square, via Free Education Montreal
My friends at Waging Nonviolence have been putting together some amazing articles about successful nonviolent movements from the past and present, with a hope that today’s activists can learn from history and current actions. I was intrigued when I was sent this article about the “Red Square” movement in Canada.
Started because of increases in tuition, the movement is rapidly growing and judging from reports of mass arrests, beatings, and pepper spraying, it is starting to really annoy the powers that be. While our friends to the north are complaining about “staggering” student debts of nearly $30,000, US students are facing debts of hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Both sides of the border are feeling the pain and more and more young people are starting to stand up. Read more to get an on-the-ground perspective from recent actions in Montreal.
For most of my years in school, I was ostracized, teased, and tormented by others. More often than not I wasn’t invited to participate in anything social, be it play or, later, parties. This went on for years, with two periods that stand out in particular. Before I was eleven, I was blackmailed by a classmate for three months, and subsequently banned for some weeks by everyone in my class, at which time only one brave girl would sneak to my home to play with me. Then, when I was thirteen and lived with my family in Mexico, I was continually tormented and taunted by others and saw swastikas on the blackboard that were hastily erased when a teacher would come. At one time I was locked out by a group of girls who didn’t want me to be part of their cabin, and I was all alone all night, leaning against a tree and shivering.
Miki at thirteen (front row, second from left) amidst her tormentors and other classmates.
The word “bully” hadn’t existed in my world at the time. I had no context for making sense of the trauma I endured. Like so many people who suffer at the hands of others, I didn’t talk to anyone about it at the time and had no hope of being understood. Today, the phenomenon is widely recognized as a major stressor in children’s lives. The Bully Project-estimates that thirteen million children are going to be bullied this year. One study indicates that 88% of children have observed bullying, and in one poll 42% of those who attended health ed centers admitted to having participated in bullying others. These numbers are staggering.
by: C. A. Bowers on May 18th, 2012 | 1 Comment »
A major step in healing the injustices being challenged by the Occupy Movement is to understand that the conceptual roots of today’s injustices can be traced to the long tradition of mis-education that has dominated the West since the rise of the Industrial Revolution.
Sustaining life in the face of the major injustices –which range from the growing gap between the super rich and the growing number of poor, the increasing control of corporations and the military in promoting legislation that furthers their special interests, and the efforts to create a global economy that reduces the need for workers while at the same time undermining the government’s safety nets–is especially challenging. The immediate difficulty facing a large percentage of the population is meeting the bare necessities of obtaining shelter, health care, and food.
Added to this scenario of injustice are the people being forced out of the middle class as a result of the market liberal ideology that promotes replacing workers with computer-driven machines, and by the swelling ranks of students who face a huge burden of debt with little prospect for repaying it. In addition to forcing today’s students into, what for many, will become a lifetime of debt, there is also a growing awareness that public schools and universities continue to reinforce the patterns of thinking and values that fail to take account of the cultural roots of the ecological crisis andthe community-centered alternatives to a consumer-dependent lifestyle.
by: Amanda Armstrong on May 7th, 2012 | Comments Off
For two weeks now, a group of food justice activists, University of California students, Albany residents, and Occupy movement stalwarts have been farming and living continuously on a couple acres of UC-owned land, known as the Gill Tract. Those farming didn’t ask the university permission before tilling and sewing the plot, setting up tents and a food station, or holding daily educational events for children. Instead, upon learning that much of the Gill Tract was slated for development – including for a Whole Foods – organizers simply made a plan for where and how to plant some vegetables on the tract, invited supportive people to join them, and started digging lines in the ground.
"Occupy the Farm" activists have planted 150-foot rows of lettuce, beans, cucumbers, and other vegetables on land owned by UC Berkeley in Albany, California. Credit: Creative Commons/Steve Rhodes.
In response to this bold – if also understated – gesture, the University initially responded in a manner reminiscent of the Quan administration in Oakland: they claimed to the press that the encampment’s facilities were unsanitary, fixating particularly on the activists’ composting toilet. But this line of attack never really caught on, and was soon replaced with a colder, eminently reasonable tale – namely, that the unsanctioned farm was impeding scientific research, and would ultimately have to be dismantled in order that the ideal of free inquiry might be upheld. An added advantage of this updated administrative rationale for police intervention was that a number of professors and university researchers were willing to express similar views to the press, meaning that, in forcing a confrontation with those farming on the Gill Tract, University administrators could claim to be acting in support of researchers. This Friday, Vice Chancellor Breslauer issued an ultimatum to the farmers that cast their continued presence on the land as a stark threat to academic freedom: