Strike One!

It was Tuesday, October 6 and the air already smelled of protest and possible strike, and that was in my house, when I got to college the feeling was thicker, everyone was speaking of just one thing, the student assembly at universal hour (starting at 10:30). I couldn’t go because I had to go to the gym, for I am in the shot put team. When I finished the gym, I tried to go to the assembly but it was already finished and the word was 48 hour strike and a reunion at 7:00 pm in Chardon. To do this assignment I had to go, even though I was already thinking of going.

When I got to the building, I sat in a corner just watching, watching a handful of students with really large ego trying to organize how the strike was going to run the next day. Some of the major issues that were covered that day were how many students there had to be in each gate, which was easily solved. The major issue was if they could let the workers of the new pool pass. This generated a division, on one hand we had the “yes we should let them pass” and on the other hand we had the “we gotta let down the hammer with extreme lethal force I say no”, ok nobody said it like that but it would have been cool.

After a few discussions and a guy who tried to get everyone’s attention by speaking out when he didn’t had to and wearing a big version of the now dead jerry curl, the conclusion was… inconclusive! Yes like good puertoricans they decided to wait till tomorrow, well either that or they were captivated by that guys awesome jerry curl, it was that disturbing. After that the reunion went from organized and structural to what the hell lets all speak at the same time and see if we can understand each other. After that the reunion just slowed down and eventually ended in angered faces and broken egos, but with the strike in mind.

COLEGIO STUDENTS IN FAVOR OF A WORK STOPPAGE

By: Katia Y. Lasanta

In the morning of Oct. 6, 2009, around 3,000 students of the University of Puerto Rico, Mayagüez Campus gathered in a general assembly held by the at the University coliseum. Thousands of euphoric UPRM students made their way to the Mangual Coliseum to ballot whether to go on a strike in response to a new law implemented by the Governor, Luis Fortuño, which will result in the lay off ofl 17,000 government workers. Students everywhere in the facility sang chants against Fortuño’s administration to the beat of a “plena.” While taking their seats, students commentaries and facial expressions regarding the event.

The president of the Student Council, Luis Mercado Millán, began the meeting with a “call to order” and then introduced the rest of the Council. It was enough for the panel to mention a national strike and a green sea of students was triggered by winds of revolution. More than fifteen students had turns at the microphone, which was placed right in the middle of the basketball court. Sarian Rivera, a senior in Chemical Engineering, was the ice breaker. She went against the strike stating that it puts in jeopardy her job offer and declared that she has the right to work as well. The crowd wasn’t supportive. After her, other students voiced their opinions, mostly in favor of calling for a work stoppage at UPRM. Many argued against the supposed privatization of the UPR system. A political science major expressed that “we can’t separate topics that are inseparable” referring to the new law, which affects everyone; including the University.

“This is a circus!” said Christian Sueiras, 22, a Computer Science student sitting in the crowd, while others threw paper airplanes, talked about having innumerable class assignments and tests and noted that it would be convenient to have some days to “catch up” with their work.

After many motions, the strike was made official and then the student body proceeded to choose a date.  During the process, disagreements between the “colegiales” were shown. The first course for action was to declare the work stoppage right at that moment, 72-hour, but the final decision was a 48-hour work stoppage, starting at 4:00 a.m. the next day.

Candela, Candela el Colegio da Candela!

by Francisco L. Aguilar

On the morning of October 6th, 2009 with the anticipation of the Student Assembly the University’s atmosphere at the UPR in Mayaguez was suspended in anxiety and uncertainty while small crowds of students rushed towards the Coliseum Rafael Mangual. From a distance I could see an enormous crowd of students in front of the Coliseum eagerly waiting for the Student Assembly to start. The crowd was shouting “PARO! PARO! PARO SÍ!” as I walked towards it.

At 9:45 am the sound of pounding drums gave the impression that things were getting intense as many people joined on with the repetitive chorus. Some were carrying weird looking posters with the Millhouse’s head on a chick’s body with a bulls-eye on its behind.  Most people have considered Millhouse to represent Puerto Rico’s Governor Luis Fortuño after the news paper El Nuevo Día published a cartoon of Fortuño’s face on the body of Millhouse from the Simpsons. I was absolutely astonished by the amount of people present, and all the shouting made it quite disorienting as I pressed my march into the heart of this united mass of students. Each step I took brought the shouting and the sound of the drums closer, yet I could not see the drummers.

I was surrounded by people: some happily laughing and others showing concern on their faces. I could not make any sense of what they said due to the endless murmur that became an irritating buzzing sound. Suddenly I felt someone grabbing my wrist and pulling it up. Shocked, I took a quick look at the person and noticed it was my friend Carlos, who looked at me with a serious stare while saying “Morón! Lift your hand that you’re from Arts and Sciences.” I complied. Yet, I could not help but feel vulnerable; my fear of gathering among so many people was starting to surface. While sweating and breathing hard, I tried to maintain composed while I followed Carlos and my girlfriend inside the Coliseum. After signing on the front desk I was instructed to follow the crowd. Yet the constant image that flashed in my head was that of cattle directed towards their death.

When I was finally seated, I was amazed at the amount of people present in this student event. The lower bleachers were filled up to capacity and still people poured in. The buzzing sound was stronger as well as the shouting of the activists saying “Lucha sí, entrega no” (fight yey, surender ney) and “huelga si entrega no” (Strike yey, surrender ney).

Suddenly, a student out of the blue instructed us to respond “candela, candela el Colegio da candela” (fire, fire, the college will give you fire) when “Colegio” was yelled. Looking all around me I could see Puerto Rican flags and flags bearing the sign of the Puerto Rican Independence Party (PIP). In some occasions the student masses would stand in an uproar and start stomping the bleachers in solidarity with the words yelled on the court. There were paper planes being flung from side to side bumping random heads as they fell.  After seven years in this University, I had never witnessed such a thing, and for this I am glad that I survived to see another day.

 

University of Puerto Rico says “yes” to work stoppage

By: Gustavo Vera Pérez

An important event occurred at the University of Puerto Rico – Mayaguez on October 6, 2009. Approximately 3,000 students participated in the activity and they were mostly excited by the results.

The event was a student assembly that was held in the Mangual Coliseum at the University.  It started at 11:04 am when a group of students came in with “piquetes”, which are messages writing in posters, and chanting “Huevo, huevo, Fortuño quiere huevo”, which means “egg, egg, Fortuño wants egg”.

The students began issuing the motions for the agenda of the assembly, so it could finish earlier. The first motion was that each union could express itself in the stand, explaining its problems. The second was that 15 students had the opportunity to do the same as the union, but they had to talk for a maximum of three minutes. The last motion was a resolution for the expressed problems made in the stand by the students and union leaders.

In between motions there was a lot of confusion and disagreements. Because of the disagreements the schedule of the assembly was extended to 1:45 pm that same day. Also, there were arguments between students who did not want the strike because they are finishing their degrees and those who said that they are doing it for their own rights and the rights of the generations to come.

Some students who were on the bleachers weren’t interested in what was happening and, since the assembly was running late, they were screaming “decide already!” Others were throwing paper airplanes to the crowd below.

Between oppositions and discussions students finally decided to call a work stoppage from October 7th to October 8th to support the unions and their fight for their own rights.

It wasn’t even over and people were already leaving. This demonstrates the attention and the interest of some students who just wanted some free days and didn’t even care about the situation.

After the students assembly was over a small group of students went to the Chardón Building in the University and started chanting and protesting against the Governor.

This is Madness!!!

By: Ricardo Rivera Torres

In a jam-packed Mangual Coliseum took place the student’s general assembly on October 6, 2009. From early on groups of students started to protest inside and outside the Coliseum. These groups, mostly members of the Pro- Independence Party, were showing their indignation to “Ley 7” and the recent decisions that our government has taken. After the UPRM Student Council discussed the agenda to be followed in the meeting, its representatives officially started it. It was decided that the time granted to the people who wanted to express themselves was going to be limited to three minutes per person and up to 15 people.

 The first person on the microphone was the president of the “Hermandad de Empleados Exentos No Docentes”, Wilberto Jimenez. He energetically showed his anger about Ley 7 and, judging by the applauses and cheering most of the students agreed with what he was saying. Next was the turn for the representative of the “Federacion Laborista de Empleados”. His strategy to obtain the support of the students was to talk about the bad consequences of the government decisions for the university and the students. He also called for the abolition of Ley 7. The students seemed persuaded by him and they started cheering again in support of his words.

The first to oppose the call for a work stoppage was a chemical engineering student. She tried to warn the students about the possibility of the cancellation of the semester and about how their studies could be affected by a stoppage, but before she could say much, all students started booing at her.

Students from different political parties got their turns to talk and immediately the student assembly turned into a political rally. These students started throwing personal attacks to Governor Fortuño and suddenly the assembly seemed to be getting away of its purpose, which was to demonstrate the student’s solidarity to the laid off workers.

The meeting became redundant: every student at the mic repeated the lines said by his/her predecessor. The decision to call for a work stoppage was taken. The only thing left to be decided was the duration of the stoppage. There were different proposals that went from 24 to 72 hours. After a lot of arguing it was finally decided that the action would last 48 hours starting from Wednesday 4:00 am and ending on Friday at 4:00 am.

24 hours? No, let’s make it 48!

by Omar A. Rodríguez

Last Tuesday, October 6, the General Assembly of Students from the Recinto Universitario de Mayagüez took place in Mangual Coliseum. I thought I was going to be late because it was supposed to start at 10:30a.m. and I was on my way at 10:45a.m. To my surprise, a lot of people were still in front of the coliseum waiting to enter, because the assembly was full.
Students waiting to enter played instruments and sang their protests out loud. To be able to go in and be part of the assembly you needed the university’s ID card. After showing that in the entrance you had to sign a paper which would later be used to count how many people attended. All this process was being done by the staff, who were wearing light green shirts.
Once inside, it was so full that I couldn’t find empty spaces in the bleachers, so I went and sat on the court. Everybody was excited, motivated and anxious. Many sang, others threw paper airplanes and some screamed.
The assembly finally started and came to its first decision: to grant 15 turns of three minutes each to people who wanted to express themselves and give ideas. The first one to speak gave a great speech which lead to a standing ovation, while the second didn’t receive a good response from the people because it criticized the strikes.
During the assembly, an email was sent to all students informing us that an academic recess had been granted until 1:45p.m. because of the time it was taking.
After many turns, the idea of having a work stoppage and closing the gates of the University was given. It went to a vote and won by unanimous decision. Now the question was: for how long? There was indecision. Someone proposed 24 hours, another guy 48 hours, and someone even said 72 hours.
Votes started and finally they came to a decision: to close the University for 48 hours starting at 4:00a.m. of Wednesday. People were cheering and everybody had a smile on their face.

Students Rebel against the Government

by: Ashley M. Santiago Cardona

“¡Lucha sí, entrega no!” was what the students who attended the General Assembly at the University of Puerto Rico Mayagüez campus chanted.   The Student Assembly took place in the Coliseo Mangual on October 6, 2009 at 10:30 a.m. The event was attended by thousands of students who are concerned by the effects that the current government will have on the UPR and the working population of our island. The Coliseum was filled above capacity; there were students at the bleachers, the court and at the hallways. It was a historical moment because no one expected UPRM to react this way towards the government’s abuse.
The Student Council started giving the students different turns to express their opinion towards the political situation in Puerto Rico. Many students were upset because the Law Seven has left many people unemployed. Some of the students have been affected directly by this law because their parents are now unemployed. Most of the students agreed that the way to fight the government’s oppression was to go on strike. Some of them were and are concerned that the current semester will be cancelled due to the continuous manifestations.
The students voted to participate in a 48 hour work stoppage, starting Wednesday until Friday at 4:00 am.
On Thursday evening, the students called for an emergency Student Assembly, which took place at the UPRM’s football field. This meeting was issued due to the governor’s plan of selling the University of Puerto Rico to the Ana G. Méndez institution. Over 1,300 students attended this meeting in which the students chose to continue the strike for 24 hours more. The students were asked to be at the campus gates at 4:00 a.m. to continue the stoppage. All the gates that gave direct access to the University were blocked by more than 40 students. On Tuesday, October 13, 2009 another Assembly meeting will be called to determine whether the strike will continue.

Observation at the “Asamblea Nacional de Estudiantes”

 October 19 of 2009

Observation at the “Asamblea de estudiantes del RUM”

By Miguel A. Alen

On October 6 at 10:30 am students from RUM ( Recinto Universitario de Mayaguez) met at the Mangual Coliseum to attend the “Asamblea de estudiantes.”Many people attended, including some college professors who joined in as well. The ones leading this general meeting were the Council of Students of RUM. It took some time before it started since it was hard to control the crowd that was trying to get inside.

The Coliseum was full to the last seat and even some people had to stand up. Although it was hard to hear the speeches, the purpose of the meeting was to discuss the problems that the University is suffering because of the economic crisis in Puerto Rico and to learn about ways that students can react to these. The Council of Students gave three minutes to 15 persons to state their ideas about how to fight against these problems.

There were lots of confrontations between the students because they all had different ideas. Some wanted classes to stop, others didn’t; some wanted to suspend the classes the same day. The students in the audience were going wild at each statement, some even threw paper airplanes. The meeting took some time because it was hard to get to an agreement. The Chancellor of the University even had to extend the planned time for the meeting of students to 1:45 pm though it was supposed to have ended at 12:30 pm. When students finally agreed that they were going to stop classes, they had another problem. They couldn’t decide how long the work stoppage should or when will it start. At the end they all agreed that they were going to have a 48 hour work stoppage starting Wednesday at 4:00 am and ending Friday at 4:00 am.

Inside the mind of the UPRM students

Inside the mind of the UPRM students

            This last October 6, 2009, the UPRM had a student’s assembly in which they s were going to tell their feelings.  This activity took place in the ʺColiseo Mangualʺ.  There was a lot of tension in that place.  The students were mad and trying to express the feelings that they had and the right.  They were protesting against the injustices towards the working class and the alarming number of people laid.  That concerned them because a lot of their parents were in that situation. 

Although there were a lot of people who agreed to call a strike there were some others that were against the strike.  One of the reasons that they were against it was because they were worried that the University was going to suspend the semester.  Nevertheless, the majority of the student body was in favor of the protest. 

Before entering and starting the assembly the students were outside of the coliseum.  A lot of the students were screaming for their rights.  Other people were having fun in there, laughing with their friends, and others were serious and just observing what was happening.  The majority of the students was very angry and didn’t care about what they had to do to what they wanted.   

Inside the coliseum there were a lot of students, approximately 3,050 students.  First they had a debate about how they were going to organize the assembly and get to hear all of the points of view.  Of all the students that were there only 15 people got the opportunity to expressing themselves.   Of those 15 people only two were against the strike.  At the end the majority voted for having the strike for 48 hours, starting on Wednesday October 7, 2009, at 4 am.

by Ashlyann Arana

Student Protest in “El Colegio”

 

By: Xiomara Abreu

 

On Tuesday, October 6, approximately 3,500 students of the UPRM Colegio gathered together in the Mangual Coliseum to attend a Student General Assembly. The activity, which was programmed to start at 10:30 a.m., had the purpose of congregate the students to discuss the benefits that were about to be taken away by the island’s government.

            As early as 10:00 a.m. there was a huge caravan of students in their way to the coliseum chanting and screaming as loud as they could. As they moved, mores students joined them until they finally arrived at the coliseum. Once there, students continued chanting and making noise at least until 11:00 a.m. There were a lot of different groups with billboards and flags. The “Jóvenes Populares Universitarios” (JPU) were there as well as the “Jóvenes Independentistas Universitarios” (JIU) and a lot of other student groups. Each one of them had their representative shirts, billboards, flags and instruments to make noise. There was one guy with a megaphone leading the chanting while the rest of the multitude acted as his chorus.

            At 11:00 a.m. the students finally got to enter to the Coliseum and filled it up to capacity. There were people everywhere in there. Students of all departments attended the event. The assembly was constituted by the leading student organizations and moderators and the rest were students. The event started with the presentation of a motion to allow 15 speakers to intervene to a maximum of three minutes each. People were so emotional that they screamed every time someone said anything about calling for a work stoppage. The principal topic discussed in the assembly was the rejection of the “Law Seven”, which would reduce the funds and benefits to the students and state workers of PR.

            Almost two and a half hours later the students came to an agreement of calling for a 48-hour work stoppage beginning at 4:00 a.m. of Wednesday. Because the vote was supported by the majority, the organizers announced to schedule departmental meetings that same day at 7:00 p.m. to organize the work stoppage. Finally the students were satisfied with the decision of the work stoppage.

 

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