Occupy Hampshire Statement on March 1, 2012, Action

This statement provided by Aislinn Bauer:

On March 1st, 2012, a group of 50 Hampshire students mobilized in solidarity with the national day of action to defend public education called for by Occupy Education.

Students, teachers, parents and workers took action March 1 to say, “Education is a right not a privilege.” Across the country tens of thousands of protestors mobilized to fight for education for the 99%. Demands include that public education be fully funded at all levels—from pre-K to Ph.D. Education activists protested layoffs, union busting and a lack of democratic decision-making in schools and universities.

At Hampshire, students marched through out campus, stopping at several locations including FPH, Merrill/Dakin quads, ASH, Institutional Advancement, and Cole to address issues of sexism, racism, homophobia, transphobia, hostility towards workers on campus and the lack of transparency and democratic decision making overall. We presented President Lash with our formal demands of:

• administrative and financial transparency and democratic decision making on campus
• job security for faculty and staff
• no tuition hikes or cuts to financial aid

and finally that he meet with us at an all community meeting Wednesday March 7th at 4pm.

Multiple students shared personal stories about how the tuition increases will prevent them from attending Hampshire in the future, and highlighted the discrepancies around the unequal allocation of funds. The Hampshire administration claims that there is a need to increase tuition to fix the budget, however when students proposed alternative positions like decreasing administrative salaries, they were immediately shut down. President Lash confirmed that his annual salary is $300,000. When students suggested that he take a pay cut to be on par with faculty and staff he said that he was not comfortable with that. To that, a student responded that her family made $7,000 total last year and that she is the first to attend college and will graduate with $50,000 in debt.

Throughout, President Lash claimed to support the movement and be on the side of students, faculty, and staff. We think that the way to show student, staff, and faculty is to take these demands seriously and take action.

We are committed to Hampshire’s founding mission of accessible, radical education for all! We see March 1st as both a continuation of the struggles on campus and the beginning of a campaign to truly make Hampshire a college for the 99%.

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