Posts Tagged ‘#OccupyKutztown’

On Monday I posted pics of the 15 trees being planted on the walkway between Lytle Hall and Beekey. Today, I am happy to report that I had grossly underestimated the number of trees being planted. Late Monday, students reported that tree planting was happening all across campus. On my way into campus yesterday, at least 30 more trees were being planted around the sports fields between Lytle and Beekey (pics below). 

I like to think of these trees as a kind of Memorial Garden for all the programs and jobs cut by KU’s administration. One tree for the Early Learning Center. Another tree for the Advising Center. More for academic programs in Theater, Nursing, and French. There’s one for the Men’s soccer team and another for the for the Director of the Women’s Center course release. 

In his April 1 “Update” (no, not an April fool’s joke), President Cevallos painted a grim budget picture and once again urged faculty to “make that extra effort” and to help “sell” Kutztown University. Then he wrote the following:

Construction is ongoing on campus as we continue to make Kutztown University THE most attractive campus in the State System and the region for current and prospective students …


…  The location and the beauty of our campus continue to be cited as primary reasons students “Choose KU.”  Capital improvements are, and will continue to be, crucial to our recruitment efforts.

So, as you walk past the newly planted Swamp White Oaks – the Budget Cut Memorial Gardens – remember that every effort is being made to invest in what makes KU a choice for students. Not the reputation of our academic programs. Not the effort faculty make to maintain one-on-one relationships with students. Not the quality education students receive. No. The KU administration will invest where it REALLY matters: cosmetics. 

It’s a new day folks. Let’s embrace that new day with a little cosmetic revision of an old piece of advice that many of you probably got from parents and teachers when you were growing up. Here’s to the new KU: 





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Wow. It has been quite an amazing month and the December issue of Raging Chicken Press reflects the kind of month it has been. It’s also pretty clear that we are already bursting at the seams, ready to expand our site into new areas. I am going to spare you my end of  year reflections until next week sometime. Suffice it to say that we’ve got big plans for 2012!

Here’s a breakdown of the December issue:

As you can see, it’s quite an issue. A great way to close out 2011. Raging Chicken Press will be taking a little break over the holidays. Our next issue will be published the first week of February. While we will not be publishing a full issue until then, I will be using the opportunity to fill you in on our plans for 2012.

One reminder: it’s still possible to be eligible to be selected from our subscriber list to receive this months “Must Read.” This month’s book takes its inspiration from our Chomsky interview: Noam Chomsky’s, Profit Over People: Neoliberalism and Global Order as well as Hopes and Prospects (that’s right, another double give-away). To be eligible, all you need to do is enter your email address in the subscription box on the right-hand side of our main page and click “Subscribe” by Monday, December 19th. That’s it and it’s free. I’ll announce our lucky subscriber next week.

That’s it for now. Hope you dig the issue!

Bread and Roses,

Editor Zero, Kevin Mahoney

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This morning President Cevallos hosted an open forum to discuss the latest draft of  the university’s strategic plan. Here is the original description of the forum:

The Strategic Plan Task Force invites the campus community to an Open Forum from 11 – 11:50 a.m. on Thursday, December 1, in AF, room 203, to discuss proposed revisions to the Strategic Plan. Faculty, students, and staff are encouraged to join in a conversation with our strategic planning consultant, Dr. Stephen Reno, members of Cabinet, and the Strategic Plan Task Force.

F. Javier Cevallos, president

My intention was to have full video of the entire forum, but two things went wrong. First, about 5 minutes into the video there is a glitch that separated the video from the audio by a few seconds, making viewing the video incredibly annoying. Second, the last 10 minutes of the forum got cut off because my SD card was full. Live and learn. I am particularly disappointed the my last exchange with President Cevallos concerning KU’s $29.1 million is unrestricted net assets (if you want the background story, check out my post from April on the XChange or my article, “Kutztown University, Shock Doctrine, and Snake Oil Tales,” from the first issue of Raging Chicken Press).

What I’ve done is convert the video to all audio. Ideally, I’ll pull out some shorter clips that will be easier to circulate. However, I thought I would post the raw audio for anyone who is interested. Click on the link below to listen to the MP3 file. You can also right click, download it to your computer, and listen to it through whatever media player you use.

KU Strategic Plan Forum – December 1, 2011

You can consider the MP3 file to be licensed under the XChange’s general Creative Commons license. You are welcome to use the file as you wish within the terms of the license.

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Over the past several years I’ve been thinking a lot about the kind of projects faculty and students could organize around that would have meaningful impacts on the university and the community. During my first two years at KU, I was the faculty adviser for a group of amazing students who wanted to found a chapter of United Students Against Sweatshops. In less than a year, the students researched the history of USAS, of KU’s licensing agreements, and the range of tactics students could use to persuade the university to join the Workers Rights Consortium–an independent group that monitors textile factories around the world and organizes against sweatshop labor. The short story is that the students convinced the university to join the WRC and for a period of several years, you could be assured that if you were donning the KU logo on your clothing, that you were not supporting sweatshop labor. One year, President Cevallos even mentioned the university’s WRC membership in his opening address — even though he never acknowledged that it was STUDENTS who responsible for the university signing on. I just checked the WRC web site only to find that Kutztown is no longer a member of the WRC. It just goes to show, once the spotlight is turned in a different direction, the university will ditch any stated commitment to human rights.

Anyway, the fact is that students’ activist made a tangible, concrete change in the university. If that student organization had continued after a couple of the key organizers graduated, we might still be able to say our KU apparel was not made in sweatshops. In the light of the current recession and budget-cut mania, I’ve been thinking about the kind of things we could do locally that would have real, tangible effects and that would provide some degree of mutual aid to our communities. Ever since the Occupy Movement exploded on the scene, I’ve been having conversations here and there about just this issue. And today’s Occupy Kutztown rally was an encouraging place to begin a conversation about organizing locally and retaking a piece of the commons. With that in mind, here are some projects you will be hearing more about on the XChange in the coming weeks and months. Here are some concrete things we can demand our university does:

  • For starters, 50% of all food served in the dining halls and other locations on campus should be locally sourced from family farms
  • 75% of all university supplies should be manufactured in Pennsylvania, when possible, at union shops. This includes office supplies such as paper and pens as well as larger items such as desks and walkway lighting.
  • All new building projects should be build using union contractors from Pennsylvania.
  • Space should be set aside on campus for a farmers’ market
  • All university banking accounts should be moved out of “big banks” and relocated to community based banks in the area.
These are just some places to start. The basic idea is that changing these policies at the university would have positive, concrete effects in our communities. They will help sustain and create jobs. I can’t wait to begin organizing around these issues. It just feels good to start having this kind of conversation.

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I could not have asked for a better way to start my day. As I drove in to work this morning, I swung by the local Wells Fargo Bank on the corner of Whiteoak and Main Street to see if the Occupy Kutztown action had gotten underway. Despite the rain and cooler weather, there were already at least a couple dozen people in brightly colored rain ponchos, homemade signs, and an energy that seemed to light up that little corner of Kutztown. I honked my horn, put down my passenger-side window and yelled “I’ll see you all in a little bit!!!”

What a way to start the day.

After I get done with my first round of office hours this morning, I am going to head down to Occupy Kutztown and and my voice to the protest as well as gather some stories and photos for Raging Chicken Press. I wish I could be there all day.

I am hoping that my colleagues, union members, union leaders, and students will take some time out of their days to join Occupy Kutztown in front of the Wells Fargo Bank on the corner of Whiteoak and Main. After today’s action, the question will be where do we go from here? I have a host of ideas for what we can do locally to nurture this emerging social movement. After all, the Wall Street created economic crisis is not limited to a few blocks in New York City as we are well aware.

Bruce Levine, author of Get Up Stand uP has given me some ideas about the need to rebuild solidarity and our self-respect. Levine appeared on the Rick Smith Show back in April and I just transcribed the interview and published it in the October issue of Raging Chicken Press. Levine uses the example of the Populist Movement in the 1880s to get at the kind of organizing that needs to take place today to get back our self-respect and confidence.  Here’s a bit of what got me thinking:

But what they did—Populist organizers—was real smart. They realized, hey, our guys are getting ripped off by the banks and they’re getting ripped off by the railroads—that was the oligarchy of the time that was screwing them—the grain elevator operators. Why? Because they had to go into debt to plant their crops and when they finally got around to getting their crops sold, they couldn’t get enough money to pay off their debts, and so they were going deeper and deeper into debt, and losing their farms and all that. So, the great organization of that era was called, the short term for it was the Alliance, and what they did was they did some thinking about it. How could we come up with some kind of economic, self-help here that we could pull off that doesn’t take a lot of money, that could reduce these folks’ pain economically. And what they did was they just came up with the first, gigantic scale, working peoples’ cooperative where they basically cut out the middle-man. These farmers got together and they pulled their crop, cut out the middle-man, got great prices for their crop and word spread—they didn’t need twitter, they didn’t need facebook—word spread in a hurry that this was a great deal, this Alliance. They weren’t just an organization preaching at us, they were taking away our pain, giving us back our self-respect, giving us confidence.

The Occupy Kutztown action opens the possibility for a collective discussion about how we–right here where we live and work–can retake the reigns of the future by looking at alternatives to the mantra of “budget cuts” and manufactured “fiscal crisis.”  We shall see how the Kutztown community responds to the question posed by Eminem — a question that has been ringing in my ears for the past several weeks:

Look…If you had…one shot, one opportunity to seize everything you ever wanted…in one moment, would you capture it? Or, just let it slip?

The opportunity of a generation is here. An opportunity to begin to retake the initiative, to right decades of wrongs, and to gain back our confidence to do more that throw our hands up in the air and say, “there is nothing I can do.”

I hope to see you today at Occupy Kutztown.

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That’s right folks! The cornfield and picturesque campus were no match for the Occupy movement. It’s here.

Here’s the details:

  • When? Tomorrow! Wed. October 12 beginning at 11am
  • Where? Wells Fargo Bank on the corner of Whiteoak and Main, Kutztown
  • What? A rally of the 99% . Here’s the official call to Occupy Kutztown:
    • INVITE EVERYONE!We are the 99%. Stand up to Wall Street, stand up to the Banks. Stand up to the 1% of the population that have been destroying the American Dream.Since we can’t leave campus because of class, why not bring it to Kutztown. Meet outside the Wells Fargo on main street. A company that took 25 billion dollars from the American Tax Payers. They continue to take people’s homes. They support the 1%. Who do you support?

      For more information about the movement please go to – www.occupytogether.org

      please note this is to be a peaceful demonstration.

  • Word has it that the Reading Eagle will be there along with 69 News. And, of course, Raging Chicken Press will be covering the event as well.
Hope to see you there!

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