Associated Students of Portland State University President Dana Ghazi issued a statement to the PSU body Tuesday afternoon calling for student action. The statement, titled “Time for Mass Student Movement,” was sent to students’ university email accounts.
“To the Community at Portland State University,
We as students are facing a host of challenges on campus. Institutions of higher education have been transformed into laboratories of corporate restructuring which reproduce rather than eliminate the inequality and oppression we face in our everyday lives. Some of our students have to make a choice between buying a textbook and buying food. The food pantry is struggling to serve hundreds of students living the reality of food insecurity, sometimes while facing houselessness. In six years, the tuition at Portland State University has increased by 12%, leaving more students in crushing debt and many unable to access education that could better their lives. Students of color have to deal daily with the ugly face of racism and islamophobia, while sexual violence still plagues our campuses affecting women and transgender individuals.
Yet, the PSU administration and the business elites on the Board of Trustees decided for us that the solution to combat such systematic issues is to further increase tuition and bring more guns under the premise of creating safety. Far from bringing safety these policies and measures have statistically shown to escalate rather than de-escalate conflicts and are no solution to sexual assault. We find it particularly disturbing that at a time when an admitted national crisis is unfolding over the murder of black youth by police around the country that the administration and Board of Trustees are going through with arming campus security and hiring armed police officers.
Militarization of the police has mirrored a trend of increased militarization nationally, with the U. S. government waging wars across the Middle East and North Africa and militarization taking place at the US-Mexico border. Political debates are filled with anti-refugee, anti-immigrant rhetoric. Violence and destruction against people and the environment has spilled across our borders. But students are beginning to demand justice and ethical accountability of our academic institution, asking for divestment from fossil fuel, from private prisons and from corporations and institutions that benefit from the Israeli occupation of Palestine.
Inspired by the courageous action of students at the University of Missouri, we know this is the time for a mass student movement that links arms with our faculty and campus workers to build the power necessary to stand up to these structures and demand a radical change. Change that does not cover up the host of issues we are facing with half-measures and policies that produce more of the same. Today, we must Unite to fight for a just world, to oppose systemic racism, and to oppose all forms of oppression at home and abroad. We must Unite against the business model, which higher education has been reduced to. We demand free education, we demand a living wage, and we demand forgiveness of our student debt. We know this is a long fight. We know this is a hard fight but it is the only way we can make PSU’s slogan “Let Knowledge Serve the City” a reality. The path to transforming our university lies with us.
Dana Ghazi- ASPSU President
P.S. Furthermore, I would like to share this statement by the Portland State University Student Union endorsed by several student groups at Portland State University. We at Associated Students of Portland State University stand in solidarity with all students working actively towards social justice on our campus.”
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I received this email yesterday, and to be quite honest I find it very distasteful.
I first attended university in my late teens/early twenties at a Big Ten school.
To the points made in the first paragraph, I too was very poor at this time in my life.
Rather than being bitter about it, I look back with pride that while it was a struggle I did work hard to pay my own tuition, rent, etc..
I feel that it was a strong character building experience.
And while tuition has gone up since 2008 (along with other costs associated with everyday life), this is a sign of a healthy and growing economy. As someone who lost their business and livelihood that year due to the weak economy, I can say with confidence that anyone going through such a situation at that time would agree that the growing pains associated with a growing economy is a good problem to have.
Furthermore, I researched all of the available Executive MBA programs in the greater Portland area, and I have found the quality of education offered at PSU not only to be among the best, it also represented one of the best values in higher education in the northwest. PSU has also proven to be one of the most liberal institutions I have been associated with, and I do not agree with the generalized assessment of it at the end of the paragraph.
The statements about campus security are misguided, and the author is quoting statistics without any credible sources to support his claims. In the third paragraph the author is attempting to claim a correlation between world events and the University that the school and its administrators have no connection to, let alone any ability to influence.
In the last paragraph the author is proposing actions that are not only unnecessary, they would also be very disrupting to those of us who are working and studying hard to further our education.
I am writing today because I do not believe that this group should have the ability to send out mass emails making blanket statements to anyone with a @pdx.edu email address. I do not agree with any of the claims made, and I fell that many of them are actually false.
Jeremy, maybe you didn’t face any of the problems addressed, but don’t minimize the voices of others because of your own privilege. We’ve all got to check ourselves.
Actually, Jonah, No we don’t need to check our privilege. Have you any idea how patronizing it is to have white people protect your feelings by ‘checking your privilege’? It’s disgusting and racist so please stop. You don’t speak for me.
I found this call to action to be on point and timely. Jeremy, you’re long winded reply misses the mark. First of all, the right of this “group” to email the student body is because you are a dues paying member of an association with an elected board. You don’t think they should be able to contact the student body because you disagree with the association’s President?
Secondly, increased tuition is not a sign of a healthy economy. It is quite the opposite. Tuition hikes occur when state investment in education decreases. And when universities are making poor business decisions (ie decisions that result in decreased revenue our increased expenditures).
The connection between global militarization and increased arms being diverted to police forces is well documented. The military dumps weapons and military gear on police forces as they reup on new gear or come out of war scenarios. Just do a little research and you can see how many campus police forces now have military armored vehicles.
Finally, mass mobilization is how people can change the course of a nation off track. Uh, civil rights movement, Vietnam War, etc. It is time for mass mobilization of students to defend access to a quality education.
Hmmm…You bring up an interesting point. If we are forced into paying for this group with our student fees and they are spamming people with unwanted email, maybe it is time for us to demand to have their funding taken away. This reminds me of unions that rule certain types of professions, they force their “members” to give them money against their will, only to use their position as a bully pulpit to further their own agenda.
Clint, I agree. Maybe we should all make enough noise that ASPSU’s funding gets cut. Give them enough money to do the bare minimum on campus and no more. No tax money should be spent dividing students the way this student body president has.
And I apologize for the typos. These tablets with that auto correct are not my cup of tea.
I’m not sure what your comment did to add to the discussion. You didn’t address the following points that Jeremy wrote about:
(2) Campus security
(3) The ability for ASPSU to spam students’ email accounts
All you mentioned was Jeremy’s privilege and for all of us “to check ourselves”. At this point there is probably some yahoo reading your comment and thinking something like, “yeah! What he [you] said!”. Of course what you really hoped to do with your comment was silence the discussion using a well-worn, liberal tool to do so.
Do you know Jeremy personally? How much privilege did he have in the past, how much does he have at this very moment, and how much might he have in the future?
I, too, really didn’t care for Dana’s e-mail. The #DisarmPSU crew doesn’t seem to grasp that correlation is not causation. There is absolutely no connection between record enrollment numbers of minority students and the arming of campus security. Zero evidence to support that claim.
Dana’s e-mail believes in free lunch. Sorry, no university education in the US should be free. Though I agree it is very expensive, and that we should find ways to reduce that cost, it is for the best. The job market is already flooded with highly educated and talented people. Does Dana believe that adding millions more, courtesy of an entirely free education, will improve things? It will flood the market even more with educated labor. We will end up like France and other parts of Europe with 50% of college graduates jobless. No thanks!