Be realistic, demand the impossible!

Much confusion within the student movement has been due to the ideologies of “Demand Nothing” and “Demand Everything.”  Of course, there is one camp which lives by the mantra of “Demand a few things, most of which we will give up for concessions from administration, and even these ‘victories’ will again be taken from us as soon as we leave admin’s office, but that’s OK.”  There’s also the sects which invariably believe in “Demand a few lofty things which show our commitment socialist revolution, which we’re not going to actually fight for because we’re too busy selling newspapers.”  In reality, DN and DE make up the radical flank of the movement, comprising the near-entirety of the occupation movement.

While seemingly opposite in every way, both logics of demand and logics of anti-demand, and are about as different from each other as the guy sitting next to you on the bus on his way to work is from you.  Demand Nothing suggests that nothing that we want or need can or should be granted to us by authorities.  Demand Everything articulates the long partial list of desires and issues that we are fighting for, while acknowledging still that these “demands” can’t and won’t be accepted by the State and Capital, and that any authority that actually redressed these demands would no longer be an authority since they would be mandando obedeciendo, leading by following.  Neither explanation does justice to the issues or what’s at stake, but we hope this articulated well enough the similarities between the two: basically, they are so far apart that at some point they join back together.  And indeed, these do not have to be separate and conflicting strategies, but rather complementary as our movement moves forward to March 4.

In an attempt to bridge the chasm, we offer a “brief list of impossible demands” localized for UCI.  We also subscribe to the demands issued by SFSU during their first occupation.

  1. Institutional support for AB540 students, including full access to grants or fee waivers.  If AB540 students cannot access FAFSA-based aid, the UCI administration should find other funding sources, including private donors.
  2. Immediately insource ABM workers and ban the practice of outsourcing.  Everyone doing work for UCI should be hired directly by UCI and afforded the union representation, benefits, and wages of other employees.
  3. Offer free English and general education classes for campus employees, including outsourced workers.  Workers should be allowed to experience the quality education they make possible.
  4. Don’t furlough, cut wages, or lay off employees and workers making under $40,000 a year.  3,600 employees collectively made over $1B in 2008, accounting for 1% of the UC staff but 11% of the payroll.  In two years, this group saw a 40% pay increase.  The cuts can be made elsewhere with less negative effects.
  5. Immediately repeal the 32% fee increase or cover the increase internally.  Students shouldn’t be expected to make up for the mistakes of legislators and administrators with student loans.
  6. After the fee increase is repealed, reduce fees every year until the UC is again in compliance with the 1960 Master Plan.
  7. Reallocate outside and private funding between Schools so that each department is REALLY affected evenly.  Shared sacrifice shouldn’t only apply to Humanities and Social Science.
  8. Peg Chancellor and Vice-Chancellor salaries to those of custodians and groundskeepers.  When administrators get pay raises, so should those at the bottom.
  9. Remove Caesar Sereseres from all positions of authority and bar contact with students until he discloses his past and current CIA and State Department activities and is held accountable for his role in policide and genocide in Guatemala.
  10. Open all UC accounting records to independent audit and public scrutiny.  No matter how “public” they say their budgets are, we still cannot say for certain where our fees are going.
  11. Halt all non-emergency construction projects until the budget crisis is resolved.  The outward appearance of our school should reflect the education contained within.
  12. Allow for an independent investigation of police conduct at UC Berkeley, UC Davis, UC Irvine, UC Los Angeles, and San Francisco State University.  Suspend, without pay, all officers involved in physical violence against student protesters.
  13. Ban the use of TASER X26 weapons by police in situations where the officer is not facing imminent threat, such as at protests, as per the 9th Circuit Court ruling.
  14. Ban the use of handguns at protests.  Police may argue for the necessity of guns, but there is no need for lethal force at peaceful protests.
  15. Completely drop charges against all student protesters, including Brian and Olivia at UCSC and Angela at UCB.  Additionally, drop the “right to press charges at a later date”, which is a de facto probation placed on students at UCB and UCD without due process.  Finally, cease use of student conduct panels, which function as secret tribunals without any consistent set of rules.
  16. End the practice of surveillance of student activists and stop monitoring campus email addresses.
  17. Cease deceptive and illegal negotiation tactics.  When collective bargaining meetings take place, send representatives who are empowered to make decisions and offers.  End the illegal practice of threatening to lay off workers if they do not accept pay cuts.  Agree to a contract for post docs and negotiate with GSIs in good faith this Spring.
  18. Institute rent controls for campus housing.
  19. Continue to allow cats in Verano and Palo Verde.  This is a mental health issue, and it is unfair to separate students from their animal companions.
  20. Publicly disclose all military and security grants and contracts on campus, including in Social Sciences and Humanities.
  21. Democratization of the UC Regents, including more student positions, campus representation, and positions allocated to people of color, women, and LGBTQ groups.
  22. Open spaces to be under student control and used for student organizing, including entirely student-run safe spaces for women, queer students and staff, and people of color.  Multicultural offices should be funded by the university but left entirely autonomous in operation; funding should not be used as a weapon to depoliticize and control marginalized students.
  23. Ban military and CIA recruiters from campus.  Require all recruiters to be honest about job placement, risks, and compensation.
  24. Keep both Langson and Science Libraries open 24/7 when class is in session.  It is unacceptable that a corporate (Quizno’s, Wendy’s, Panda Express, Wahoo’s) cafeteria in the Student Center and the Anteater Recreation Center have longer hours than the libraries.  The Gateway Study Center should be kept open as well, not be used to replace the libraries.
  25. End the practices of buying prison-produced furniture and selling sweatshop-produced apparel.  As a campus, we should not profit from the misery of others, and affordability should not be paired with oppression.
  26. Terminate the use of animals in research, experimentation, and classroom teaching.  Currently, UCI researchers participate in the horrendous practice of vivisection and typically kill animals including cats and primates after research is concluded.  If testing must be done on animals, it should be done in a way such that animals are not permanently harmed physically or emotionally or killed, and domesticable animals should be made available for adoption by the UCI community and the general public.
  27. Make gender neutral bathrooms available in each School, and in as many buildings as possible.  UCI should not enforce hetero-normativity or institutionalize discrimination.
  28. Implement a program for the children of UCI employees to receive preferred admission and reduced fees.
  29. Offer convenient and reasonable transportation and parking options for UCI employees, including free parking for certain shifts and vanpools or shuttles from Santa Ana and Orange.
  30. Offer reduced parking rates for commuter students based on distance.  Allow free parking in all campus lots after 5pm and on the weekends.
  31. Allow a new Irvine Meadows trailer complex in any of the vacant lots near campus, with all rents or fees paid directly to AGS and ASUCI.
  32. Provide funding and resources, including additional journalism training, so that the New University can be published multiple days a week, if not daily.
  33. Revise campus posting policy.  Chalking should be permitted on all pedestrian surfaces, and should not be cleaned up overnight.  More visible spaces should be made available for posting fliers, including kiosks, in addition to the bridges.  Posters with political content should not be removed upon discovery, and UCI Police should not be allowed to remove posters or silence dissenting voices.
  34. The University should be run by students and workers, not administrators!

This list is hopelessly incomplete.  Please contribute your own demands via comments or email OccupyUCI (A) riseup.net.

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5 Responses to Be realistic, demand the impossible!

  1. Pingback: A Brief List of Impossible Demands «

  2. Pingback: List of demands from UC Irvine « UC Rebel Radio

  3. enginesummer says:

    to demand nothing is to refuse the state as interlocutor. to demand everything, as you say, is to rhetorically transcend it. an important thing that’s missing here is the question of whom one is addressing – the first UCSC occupation announced that it was demanding “the people of California” to rise up – not the school or state to do anything.

    the response to this by some comrades in greece (TPTG) was, i thought, pretty interesting. they pointed out that demandlessness is not usually the starting point of struggles but a transcendence that is attained at a point of frustration when “partial” or specific struggles, which of course always arise from specific local conditions, find their demands cannot or are not being met within the framework of class society. there demands end and war is taken up.

    for this reason i am not particularly interested in the question of “to demand or not to demand”. i think that demands which can improve our position tactically and improve the conditions of groups we are in solidarity with may be worth making. eventually, if this keeps going in the direction we want it to, demands will be irrelevant. in the meantime getting people to see occupation and other tactics not as means to an end, but means to more means, is key, i think.

  4. UCI mostly asian says:

    these demands have an anti-conservative bias

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