Regents we are here to say that you are elected officials. You are accountable to the public that you are privileged to serve. Well the public is here. We are here to tell you that you have failed in this service. There was once affordable public education. Today there is only an expensive commodity. You sell this commodity to wealthy students. To the rest of us you offer a more ominous exchange: an education for a lifetime of student debt.
You tell us State de-funding creates difficult challenges. We agree. But you have responded to this challenge by stripping benefits from workers; raising tuition; and decreasing tenure-track positions. You say cut back: we say fight back!
You have demonstrated your inability to stand for public education. Your agenda today / represents what you do stand for. You value funding start-ups over students; and you value billions in construction over accessible education. We are demonstrating what we value. We the students the staff and the faculty. We who teach and participate in class; we clean the campus; we fix the buildings; we contribute to public knowledge. We are here to reclaim the University for the public who makes it run.
You endeavor to attract the richest and whitest not the best and brightest. You support construction not instruction. We have another vision. Job security and intellectual freedom for faculty and staff; a student body without student debt; and a community that shatters race and class divisions instead of reproducing them.
This university claims to be an institution of inclusion and equality. Our vision works for the future when this may be true. Your vision ensures a public forever divided. We reject your vision!
But Regents we know that your failure is shared. The State Legislature shares it; the student loan sharks share it; the Governor shares it; the U.S. Congress shares it. The President shares it. When we address you, we address them too. We address you as representatives of a bankrupt system.
We, the true motor of the university, will not continue to be passive consumers of a product that should not, cannot, must not be for sale. We reclaim the university as a public space whose true owners are the students, the faculty, the staff, and the community members who make it run. In solidarity with our peers across the country, we struggle for a true public education. We are Occupy U of M and we are the 99 percent!
Instruction not construction!