WASHINGTON, D.C., Sept. 4 — Over 300 Howard University students, CHALLENGE readers and workers protested the administration’s plan to cut services and jobs, and hike tuition. Workers from SEIU Local 32BJ joined in the rally in support of the students and also demanded that the University stop its plan to contract out union jobs.
The Howard University Student Association (HUSA) raised 13 demands, including the firing of the executive leadership in the Office of Student Affairs due to their efforts to censor students; a public, transparent budget so students could see just how real the supposed deficit is; improvements in on-campus housing facilities; expansion and upgrade of the computer network; and a recycling plan to comply with the law and to reduce global warming.
Administrators refused to meet with the protestors, some of whom decided to march into the administration building to confront these bosses despite the HUSA leadership’s effort to stop them. The campus police shoved and kicked some of the students, including militant members of the Political Education and Action Committee (PEAC), to keep them out. Hard to believe that the new president’s slogan is “Students First!”
The economic crisis is hitting universities hard, and they in turn are hitting students and workers with big tuition hikes, cuts in services, layoffs, contracting out union jobs, and a more repressive atmosphere. The source of the economic crisis is the capitalist system with its single-minded focus on maximizing profit at the expense of everyone else. The universities’ role is to actually serve these capitalist interests.
During the same week that the protest occurred, Howard University announced a $2.5 million grant program from the Director of National Intelligence to develop a curriculum that will feed a pipeline of students into the CIA, NSA, and other intelligence agencies. This effort to provide more agents for imperialism complements the existing Howard University ROTC programs. ROTC enrolls almost 200 Howard students per year by bribing them with scholarships to become the executioners of workers and students in Iraq and Afghanistan. These wars are waged so that U.S. corporations can continue to dominate world oil markets and pipelines and maximize their profits. Military officers and intelligence agents are hit men for U.S. imperialism!
The struggle that heated up this week must begin to join with workers and students around the world to eliminate the source of the vicious attacks they face from profit-hungry imperialists across the globe. A concrete step these students can take in this process is joining the PLP.