UPRM Student Strike is a video portraying in small amount what motivated the movement, what effects had on the student community and how they raised to the occassion. The first interview is an insight on the misconceptions towards the CNN and how it influenced the environment at the negotiation table between the CNN and the Board of Trustees. The second interview shows how students from the university decided to take manners into their hands because they wanted to know the truth and wanted the public to be informed. Third and finally a student talks about the common knowledge of the strike and shows the importance of being well informed.
Testimonies, Critiques and Understandings of the UPRM students and staff
By: Miguel Torregrosa
In the past three months a historical event occurred in Puerto Rico that paralyzed the island and had everyone’s attention: the UPR student strike. The strike started in the UPR at Rio Piedras and later on had the support of all the other UPR. The strike demands were that the students waiver or exemptions for artist, athlete, etc were not taken from them(Certification 98), transparency from the university and government administrators, guarantees of stopping tuitions hikes, and guarantees that campuses will not be privatized.
This event created the opportunity of creating the National Bargaining Committee which had two representatives of each UPR and would be the voice of the students of each university. Since this committee was created everyone had a saying in the negotiations and some demands from individual university were integrated in the main demands such as the tuition hike for the summer classes and the cut of sections provided.
Even though the strike had an outstanding support from students to national figures, there’s always controversy and people who are against the strike. Some of the reasons for this were lack of knowledge of what the real objective of the strike was, the media and the administration bombing with ads against the students in the strike and fear of losing the semester or summer classes.
Some of the students that were involved in the strike, or in some way did something against the strike are: Alberto Rodriguez, Jonathan Acevedo and Michael Torres.
Alberto Rodriguez one of the students leader and one of the representatives of the National Bargaining Committee of UPRM expressed that the strike was not their first option and if they had other ways of setting they would have done it, but the truth was there were no other way since they didn’t have resources nor the money to do it. The administrators, president of the UPR, had the resources to counter attack the arguments of the NBC (National Bargaining Committee) and the media like news papers and television were writing or showing parts, or whatever they wanted and not covering the whole story, continued explaining Alberto. “Even though there were many mistakes, which we learned from them, we had our victory since we make our voice heard and had an outstanding support form each UPR” stated Alberto.
Another student involved in the UPR strike was Jonathan Acevedo from the department Mechanical Engineering at UPRM. He was one of the many supporters of the strike that stood at the gates of the UPRM fighting for their rights. Jonathan said that even though he was not everyday or all day at the gates since his job and other personal problems didn’t let him, he feels that this strike taught many people especially the government that the education of Puerto Rico is not something to play with and that the students won’t stand by and let them be repress by the government. “For me this was an unbelievable experience, and when you are there you actually know what’s really happening and what you are fighting for” stated Jonathan. There are many students that didn’t support the strike because of the misinterpretation and the confusion the media created” commented Jonathan as he continued explaining “This would have been a bigger victory if many of the students would at least look up the truth and supported the strike”.
As Jonathan Acevedo said not everyone was in favor of the UPR strike such is the case of Michael Torres.
Michael Torres is a UPRM student in the department of Electrical Engineering and is currently on his third year. Michael went one day at the beginning of the strike in May at night and started a dispute with the students at the gate which almost resulted in brawl between he and his friends against the group at the gate. Not only once but in several occasions he went to the gates and taunt and even force himself though the people at the gate. He claimed that the strike was something stupid and ineffective since all past strike just made things worse and still the government did whatever they wanted. Michael said “Its not that I want to pay more on my class enrollment, or pay the “especial fee” in August, or let the government do what they please, is that nothing I do will make them change or even consider us” and continued “On the contrary with the strike indefinitely there were more things to lose than to gain for example: summer classes, they will make us pay the especial fee, they will make us pay more for our enrollment and we are just extending the inevitable plus now they added four more to the Board of Trustees by the administration of the governor Luis Fortuno”.
The UPR student strike was an historical event which moved the island of Puerto Rico and many other countries. The strike was composed by many groups like Alberto Rodriguez, Jonathan Acevedo and Michael Torres, in which everyone had their own ideals and their own determination.
August 18, 2010 at 12:00 am08 (UPRM Student Strike 2010)
The strike ended in two months after it was established although we couldn’t begin our classes after another month; and after that can you say what truly happened during the entire length of the strike and why did it happen? There student body as a whole isn’t well informed as for the what and whys of the strike and will not know the unique events that had been developing or getting various views from both sides and become better informed about the situation.
It is interesting to learn and hear some of the reasons that student body wasn’t up to date on the situation of the strike at hand as it could be that there was little for the students to lose beyond the messed up schedule or they only listened to the mainstream media coming from the radio, news shows and newspapers which basically only covered the strike happening in the Rio Piedras campus and ignored the other campuses including our Mayaguez campus. There wasn’t much of a push to make alternate sources of news info knowledgeable to the public like Rojo Gallo and the UPResunpais. Some time before the strike there were posters showing that there needed to be some sort of complaint due to the sudden and dramatic increase of the upcoming tuition in summer, there was more to the strike at hand but the was very few of the points advertised to the student body at large.
On some students there is an air of uncaring around them as the strike has very little effect on them if any. Basically all that it amount to it all was the period of downtime and the constant lookout of when will the classes will be back. It is in a way exhausting trying to see if there is classes during any particular timeframe and our awareness is just been eroding more and more over time.
The students who were on a tight time frame when the strike hit were the ones who were on constant alert to see when the classes would start again since they have other plans in other places with a tight timeframe and some depended on them graduating on time which they couldn’t do. A civil engineering graduate and surveying student Juan Luis knows some friends who were on edge about the continuation of the strike and keeping up to date on the ongoing struggle in the university system. He mentioned that because of internship and job offers that students couldn’t leave because of the insecurity of when classes would start since they feared that it would start when they were away. Some other students were ready from the get go when they had other plans in the summer that could conflict when classes start to talk to their professors and get everything squared off if they were to return late. But what I believe bothers students is that this entire situation happened at a time so close to ending the semester that they couldn’t really square everything in a timeframe that would be comfortable.
Polling 50 students about their opinions and knowledge of the strike shows that their answers clashed a bit with my expectations. The students polled were the majority in favor of the strike at the beginning 26 to 20 with four not wanting to answer the question. The common answer as to if they were ever interested in the strike at first is that they were on top of the news with 29 claiming so of what was going on with the UPR strike although half claimed that eventually they lost interest in the strike as time went on and while only 14 claim that they didn’t start with interest half of those eventually gained interest in the strike; an interesting pattern to see.
The reasoning the polled students mostly gathered as to why the strike happened was because there was a strong dissatisfaction with the administration and while this is a much broader reasoning than other reasons gathered as the encroaching of student rights and the raise in tuition costs yet the students seemed to point mostly towards the administration instead of any one thing they could be blamed at. The students also feel that the strike was handled very badly on all involved parties of the strike or that one party did well for the strike while another party handled the strike poorly with some pointing towards the administration and the others pointing towards the student, but very few people felt that the strike went well. The greater number of students also felt that the strike was inevitable and couldn’t have been postponed or delayed at all.
“The students not only didn’t have an organized system to help present their side of the story of the strike” said Alberto Rodriguez a member of the National Bargaining Committee for the RUM “but the students are also greatly influenced by the mainstream media and they could eventually be separated from the student society and be unaware on other points in the conflict”. Besides the mainstream media the students also used Cartero as their source of information inside the UPR system which doesn’t really tell the whole story either. Alberto was worried that there was no widely spread system for the students to place their information and he plans for later to create a more widely known information system for the students to use and the students to know about.
Philosophy professor Anayra O. Santory Jorge comments that as part of the UPR society and system that as students we should be always aware on the current situation of the campus at all times and as professionals we should not only find many sources of info but we should also question those sources and challenge them at all times. Seeing the campus around in these recent days I’ve seen the papers around that advertises what the strike accomplished and tells more than what I have seen advertised as to why we need a strike. Students should feel that they need to be more involved and there should be more apparent sources of info for the students to weigh in and compare.
August 18, 2010 at 12:00 am08 (UPRM Student Strike 2010)
By: Jean L. Ramos
In May 3, 2010 a strike was made in front of the gates of the University of Puerto Rico Mayagüez Campus better known as the UPRM. There are various reason why the strike started. Alberto Rodriguez an UPRM student who is part of the National Bargaining Committee, who also maintained informed the students that were at the gates about the negotiation process, said in an English class “that the intentions of the strike was being misunderstood because they said that the student were only doing it to smoke, drink, and doing who knows what in their tents, when the real reasons for the strike was that the Board of Regents wanted to eliminate the scholarships and other economic aids for the student and also to increment the cost of credit for summer course.”
The reasons for the strike were also stated at elnuevodia.com were it says, that five UPR campus gather for a strike in Rio Piedras Campus to reclaim, not to eliminate their scholarship and exemption, to not reduce the courses and to not increment the price for summer courses.
Mischelle Morales a student who was at the student meeting in “El Gimnasio Ángel F. Espada” were the students voted in favor or against the strike, said that the day the strike started student acted like “Tarzan” the UPRM mascot, protecting their campus, like a dog protects his territory, defending one another like the dog barks at a stranger, they stood firm in the ground with their goals and ideals like the a dog does in a fight, this is why the student represent so much the UPRM campus.”
The strike has two sides, behind and outside the gates to the entrance of the campus. Outside the gates, students gather to protest and demand their rights. Behind the gates was the campus and tents were the students slept. “I was at day outside the gates supporting the strike, and at night behind the gates dreaming about the next day strike will end up in victory.” stated Zuleika Rodríguez who is doing a major in psychology and horticulture in the UPRM.
The role of the students were to maintain inform other students about why is the strike, organizing student meetings to gives speeches and hear other students opinions and give out flyers and send emails by “radio huelga” in facebook giving information about the activities they were going to organize.
The students even had the support of famous artist like Juanes, Ricky Martin, Alejandro Sanz y Rubén Blades, as mentioned in the article “Famosos apoyaron huelga de estudiantes” in the internet site Univision.com. René Pérez better known as Residente the lead singer of Calle 13, also assisted to the UPR strike, were he expressed his opinion about the organization and leadership that the student had in the strike, this was all recorded and posted by LaLaTa05 in youtube.com.
At night behind the gates students had activities thanks to other supporters, like poem readings, singing, dance lessons and even a concert to collect funds. At day the strike continues with the support of professors and parents, letting them feel to the people by singing and posters with their opinions written on them.
On May 14 at the UPR in Río Piedras Campus, just like the student let people see how they felt about the strike, the police did the same with prohibiting the entrance of water and food to the student at the strike. In the article “Huelga en la UPR, Día 22, minuto a minuto: Ygrí Rivera anuncia cierre hasta el 31 de Julio” in primerahora.com, one can see that parents felt this like Luis Torres who was brutally attacked by the police, when he was trying to give food to his son.
The strike ended on June 21 for Mayagüez Campus, were student celebrated victory. They achieved the goals for what the strike was made, to prevent the elimination of scholarships, economic aids, and exemption for the student and also to prevent the increment in the cost of credit for summer course.
August 18, 2010 at 12:00 am08 (UPRM Student Strike 2010)
By: William T. Wolfrom
Throughout many years people have been fighting for their rights as citizens of the same nation. Men and woman like Martin Luther King, Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, Ruben Berrios, and Lolita Lebron and, so many more that have fought to maintain a balance between human rights. Now days we can still observe how people stand up and defend their rights against those who don’t have an angle to observe the different life conditions of so many people. This strike included much more than just some students fighting for their enrollment but a nation fighting for their future and the generations after them.
The strike itself is not a good thing, but it is a mechanism to apply pressure and to make sacrifices. However, historically it has been shown to be valid and necessary sacrifices to achieve certain claims. These demands can be as small as stopping the rise in enrollment in summer or as large as to fights for woman rights. So beyond what it’s available specifically to the strike as a pressure mechanism the fight to reclaim the right of education is valid and necessary.
The strike that started on May third was declare a undefined strike that included the eleven campuses of the UPR system, demonstrating our Educational system and the government that something was definitely miss placed on their decisions. The strikes for many people was a reckless act with no moral values, but on behave of the pro-strikers body it was more than just a strike, it meant for many their life long education, and their future life. When researching around campus I had the opportunity to speak and interview some students that were defending the strike, but as many they were I also spoke with some that didn’t support the strike for many reasons. When interviewing a fellow Mayaguez campus student I had the opportunity to establish many points that supported the strike and some that didn’t. I personally believe that every one of us have different values and thoughts about the strike, whether the strike may beneficially would help me or how the strike can still help my life on a different angle for example my personal life and future.
When having a conversation with Milton Javier he looked at me in astonishment when I asked him what where the reason for the anti-strikers for not defending the strike? He surprised said “It was enough to listen to presentations at the meeting that had the RUM at Darlington to realize that most of the speech was one of selfishness, “I graduate,” “I have a job,” “I have to finish”, etc. . It is the lack of vision that caused them to be against, a vision that transcends an individual and includes the current university community, but even more for future generations. I also, consider that many of the people who were against the strike are students whose families are well-off financially and that a rise in credit or quota imposed, may represent no sacrifice to their pocket.”
My fellow UPRM student Damian Cabrera exchange many of his thoughts about the strike but something that kept me think was when he said “The opposition to the strike was not really unique and specific, nor has it the supported strike. Some of the people who opposed the strike were unable to understand the need to make sacrifices. This is because our society promotes individualism valued and as a form of personal interaction. That is, my first way of dealing with people is always from my own perspective, for my own immediate benefit and investment without sacrifice. There were the anti-strikers who opposed the strike because they were graduating, they were interned, or would enjoy a profit, not taking into account that this is wrong, the problem occurs when this is an argument of greater weight than is used for invalidating the strike. Other people with a social conscience a little more developed, opposed the strike because they believed in some cases it was unnecessary and inefficient to achieve the strike’s objectives. These people had no objection to the fight, but opposed the strike because they did not consider it the appropriate mechanism.” He explained to me how some people were selfish but how other in a different supported it but didn’t follow it because they didn’t believe it was the best way to achieve our goals.
Hopefully some goals were achieved, like the enrollment rise, privatization of some UPR campuses, enrollment extensions, and raise in the summer enrollment. These on my perspective were the most important objectives for the strike. Sadly even though the strike brought positive result, it also brought negative ones. Like Jorge Rodriguez Lebron stated “the strike is a move of pressure, but as positive goals it may also bring negatives, but it a sacrifice I’m willing to take for the future of this countries education”. There was the loss of three months of classes that included the money the government was losing which were millions of dollars for having the UPR system close. Also the penalties for every single one who was in favor of the strike was going to have a penalty or a sanction but this was another claim the students did to have a safe way out of the strike with no danger tide to their backs.
This strike brought confidence to our society against those who want to manipulate our education, and I personally believe this fight will last for more many years to come.
August 18, 2010 at 12:00 am08 (UPRM Student Strike 2010)
By: José Fraticelli
The past summer, the UPR system, was shut down by a strike made by it students. All of the eleven campuses were part of the movement; obviously the Mayagüez campus provides a certain help were 3 students were part of the National Bargaining Committee. This organization, created since May 11, 2010 at Arecibo, Puerto Rico, is responsible for collecting all campuses administrative and economic issues claimed by their students and present them to the Board of Trustees. The UPRM student chosen by vote, Alberto Rodriguez Rivera, deal with Mayagüez campus issues. He had two other persons that help him to collect and provide information to the National Bargaining Committee which one of them is Coralys Leon.
The president of the UPR system, José De La Torre, and the president of the Board of Trustees, Ygrí Rivera, were accused to be responsible of the main economic problem that the UPR system is going through. Mainly the National Bargaining Committee was negotiating with the Board of Trustees. But the strike is not about accusing who is administrating; the strike is about how the administrators want to fight the deficit of the UPR system. The student strike is because the administration wants to make the student pay for the bad control of the money. The students that have knowledge about the current situation that the University of Puerto Rico has have defended their opinion. Inclusively, the students had made organizations to demonstrate their point of view and act about it.
The students that approve the strike help to build the National Bargaining Committee and went through many good and bad events that at the end got victory. Our UPRM student, Alberto Rodriguez, said that we, as students, got victory on the strike, comparing it to a straight line. His symbolism is because they went through many events that they do not go straight to the top. The National Bargaining Committee went step by step in the process until they achieve most of their petitions to the UPR administration.
An UPRM student that approved the strike, Kelmith López, TMAC major student, state: “we have reached a moment in history where at last a group of civilians, students, teachers and unions have joined in opposition to the mismanagement of a system where students have to pay the price of bad management and this cannot be allow and it will not be” He was present in the Barcelona gates and in one of the Rio Piedras’s long walk, where for him, one student may not make the difference, but the participation of students, professors and, civil persons take us to success. “The strike is not a solution; it is a method of pressure which leads to the solution. There are ways of doing business without going on strike, but if the administration does not want to negotiate we must apply the duress necessary for change”, he say with a secure facial expression.
In other hand, there where students that do not approve the strike, especially the almost graduate students. Luis Mercado, president of the UPRM Student Council, was opposing to the strike in all moment. He summons a few students meeting where the UPRM student could decide if the student body will help in the strike by voting. But the strike was on and the Mayagüez campus went on the strike on May 3, 2010.
A student who do not approves the strike is, Erica Vila, a Chemical Engineer graduate candidate UPRM student, stated some reasons for why she is not “get along” with the strike:
“I understand that the University is undergoing an unprecedented economic crisis, a strike only increases the deficit of the university. I understand that this strike is due more to a general dissatisfaction with the current government; a strike is not an appropriate forum to demonstrate this. The government at all times be kept out of the strike that injured was us and the university that students argue both defend. I understand that this strike was due to political motivations of others, students strikers were mere puppets. I understand that the strike leaders at no time been in the best negotiating, had always had an uncompromising attitude. Although an agreement was reached on most points in early May, students increased the demands on the negotiating table. The biggest factor of my disagreement with the strike, I was not in accordance with any of the student complaints, understanding that they were unfounded or irrational. I understand that the final agreement was worse than the initial conditions, where the annual fee of $ 800 for everyone and not covered by exemptions.”
Also she pointed that “this strike was motivated by political intentions from the outset by the strikers. I think the anti strikers students seeking help from those who have economic power in order to support this movement, like the student strikers sought support from public figures and / or policies to discourage the public. I understand that students seek to ensure that this scenario was not repeated, where the university cannot be governed by the abduction of students. The student anti striker, believes that the policy of non-confrontational but retains the confidence of many, is a weapon used by the striker to abuse. The student strike can do whatever you want, and then claim immunity as a hostage kidnapping university.” This strike had every kind of students and everyone did their part as they thought it was good for the UPRM campus and relative.
August 18, 2010 at 12:00 am08 (UPRM Student Strike 2010)
By: Ricco J. Morales Irizarry
From May 4, 2010 to June 21,2010 the University of Puerto Rico- Mayaguez-also known as UPRM- was on a strike an many student have different point of view about it.
The strike in the UPRM begins in may 4, 2010. The reason for the strike in the UPRM was the cost of summer class, no exemption for any students, increases in all credit in the semester and the negative of the administration to open the finances of the UPR system.
When the strike begins many students don’t have any idea of what happens, other students were totally against the strike and other were totally in favor of the strike.
Alberto Rodriguez, student of the UPRM and member of the National Bargaining Committee- also Know as CNN- ,was always in favor of the strike.
At first every campus has his own reason for the strike, then the CNN was created and all the claims became the same to all campus.
“ It wasn’t easy to be in all meeting of the CNN with the bargaining table” say Alberto.
The experience of the strike in every campus was different. Johnatan M. Serrano Matos, students of the UPRM and an student representative in the strike, maintain all the 2 months in the gate of the UPRM.
“The strike was for a good reason, we need to defend the public education because is the only weapon against the ignorance, it for some reason they decide to do another strike I will be there in the gate again” say Johnatan
The gate of the UPRM was always a environment of concern. Jonhnatan say “In those month I grow up as a person, I know different people with the same vision of my.”
In those 2 month of the strike the student that were on the gate passed through many situation. Some of these situation was the heavy rain and many student lost they job.
“I lost my job because it was difficult to be in the CNN and in the same time maintain a job. The responsibility of be in the CNN was very big, There was days that i didn’t rest well” say Alberto.
Alberto say “ Every time the CNN have a meeting with the Bargaining table I call the student on the gate to inform everything that happens in the meeting and to take decision about everything, because I believe in the democracy and every student in the UPRM have his right to vote”
In one point of the strike the UPRM became the most important campus of the system. In the assembly of may 24, 2010 the students of the UPRM have to choose to end the strike or continue with it. The decision on that assembly would change everything.
“In that assembly the UPRM students decide to continue with the strike, was in that moment that the strike became the strongest weapon against the administration of the UPR” say Jonhnatan.
In the process of the strike a student create a group called silent majority. This student was Eduardo Nater, Department of civil engendering and president of the silent majority.
In one publicity of the UPRM against the strike Eduardo say “My graduation was in june 11, 2010, now I can’t graduate that date.” In this same situation were many students in the UPRM.
Inside of the UPRM was one of the most important media of the strike. This group was the “Resistencia Colegial”. It was a group of student with the job of maintains all the community of the UPRM informs of whatever happens inside the UPRM during the strike.
One of the most important day on the strike was june 21, 2010. In tha day every student on the gate of the UPRM pack up their stuff and go to the first and only national assembly in the story of the UPR. In that assembly student of all the system of the UPR decide to end with the strike.
In the case of the UPRM the strike end in june 21, 2010 but the semester start again in august 2, 2010 because of the Central America games.
“In this fight the line to the top is not straight, we going to have up and down but we are going to keep fighting to the end”
Thank to the strike there will be no increase in the credit and the student with exemption can continue with it.
In this historical strike every single student learns to defend in what they believe and everyone grow up as a person. Each campus have they story about the strike but all of them fight for the same reason. The important point in it was that the strike demonstrates that there in the society still people that fight for the right of all.
August 17, 2010 at 12:00 pm08 (UPRM Student Strike 2010)
By: Stephanie Rivera Soto
We must fight for our rights
In April 21, 2010 the UPR strike began because due to some issues of student waiver and exemptions, affected by the Board of Trustees “98 Certification”, recommendations to solve the budget deficit problems, guarantees of stopping tuition hikes, and guarantees that campuses will not be privatized. In April 13, 2010 in a general student assembly, they proved a motion to create a Negotiating Committee, to be able to negotiate with the University Administration. As they failed in negotiations, on April 23, 2010 they unleashed an indefinite strike on the UPR of Rio Piedras, followed by the other 10 UPR campuses, that among them was the UPRM, on May 3, 2010. That for the first time has assumed a big part among the other precincts.
There were three representatives from the National Bargaining Committee of the UPRM, and one of them was Alberto Luis Rivera Rodriguez, who was in charge of representing the decisions and complaining of the UPRM camp in the bargaining table.
“As a member of the National Bargaining committee we develop a democratic structure in Mayaguez to vote for the decisions that we were going to make. Because as UPR students we are the one that most be taking the choices of the University, not some people as Alexis Rivera cousin of Ygrí Rivera president of the Board of Trustees, who does not know anything about the University.” Said Rivera
The University administration spend half million dollars, on media publishing discrediting the students action, affecting the public opinion of Puerto Rico, doubting about the real reasons of the strike, and if their claims were valid. Moreover, because of this, students without spending any money develop radio stations, and other media ways, letting know the true to the people from Puerto Rico.
The projections of the University Administration are reasons to get worried about, because of the dramatic reduction of space in the University. In 1999, the total of students admitted was of 70 thousand, in 2009 was of 65 thousand. Now the budget of the Board of Trustees of 2010-2011 is planning to be of 50 thousand students. Meaning that is going to be 15 thousand students less admitted than last year, an unparalleled reduction in decades.
“We have to start taking some conscience about the situation that is happening around us with the education of Puerto Rico. Ygrí Rivera mentions the closure of fourth UPR, what means that the University Administration is going to gain 300 million dollars, which are not going to be use by any important matter, just for their own pockets.” Said Rivera
Third year student from the Social Science department, Yanira Rios De Jesus, was one of representative of the negotiating committee of Aguadilla, who decide to stand up and fight for student’s rights; being this one of the only things that Puerto Rico has left: education.
“I feel satisfied on how the eleven UPR campuses stand up all together to defend their education. Because of this, we could negotiate the majority of issues that we were fighting. The only thing that I am not satisfied with is the fee increase of 800 dollar. The UPR is for the people of Puerto Rico, not for the fortunate ones that have rich parents.” Added Rios
On May 14, 2010 in the UPR of Rio Piedras, the impact force was not letting anybody near the students of the camp inside the University, preventing food transfers towards the students, water or any other necessary resources. Several parents were attacked because they were trying to send some food to their sons and daughters. After several hours, people started fainting due to dehydration. It was not until an ambulance had to come, that the impact force allowed the passing of food and water and any other supplies they needed.
Impact force brutality towards the citizens
After all, the actions taken by the government, like on June 30, 2010 when a great bunch of people went to the Capitol to observe their legislature and participate in the democracy of the colony, the impact force reacted aggressively towards the citizens assaulting them with clubs and spraying them with pepper spray. There are still people like Erica Vila Rodriguez a chemistry engineering student, who is opposed to the strike, and all measures that the people from the strike took.
“The only thing the strike accomplished was increasing the economic crisis of the UPR. All of this happened, because the people were upset with the actual government. Because of what students did, the result was worse than the actual arguments, making us to pay an annual fee of $800 with no exemption cover. My major disagreement was that the claim that students were doing, it didn’t have any real argument.” Added Vila, after expressing her point of view about the strike
“We may have lost some things, but we won our space in the administration, we accomplish almost all we were fighting for, but the most important thing is that we gain respect from the people not just from Puerto Rico, but for the entire world, and hope for our Puerto Rico future.” Added Rivera
The UPRM strike ended on June 21, 2010 after ratifying their agreements, with the Bargaining table.
This historical event provoked a big commotion on the people of Puerto Rico, being the first time that the eleven campuses got all together on an indefinite strike making history; fighting not just for their rights, but for the future of our generation, giving them an opportunity to have a great education without any unjust limitation.
August 17, 2010 at 12:00 pm08 (UPRM Community Issues 2010)
By: José Velez Anderson
ENGL 3268: Writing for the Communications media
August 17, 2010
In May of 2010 the students of the University of Puerto Rico of Mayaguez Campus went on strike supporting the main campus in Rio Piedras. The students fought for their rights to have a better education. They were not in favor of the implantation of tuition and those students that have one than more grants or aids other than the Pell Grant should choose only one aid. This act made students paralyze their Universities and fight for their rights.
The coverage of the strike, like always, was centered in the Rio Piedras Campus. In Puerto Rico they still believe that the metropolis or the capital is the center of the earth, and that is more important than the rest of the island. There was not enough media coverage of the strike in the Mayaguez Campus. I found some media coverage or fragments that mentioned Mayaguez but they were not enough. We went trough the same things that Rio Piedras but the media focused on the Rio Piedras Campus.
Although there is a lot of news regarding the strike, they are not all that accurate. Most of the media focused on the Administration’s and the Governor´s perspective. A student, Alberto Rodríguez who was a representative in the National Bargaining Committee, said “All the information the media could cover was all thanks to the support of all the students and the 11 UPR campuses who wanted to fight for their rights.” Some rights being the guarantees about no fee increases and no privatization of campus services. The students in the strike had to find their own ways of media without using any money, while the UPR spent more than $500,000 as a resort for their own media. There was a lot of trouble caused because of the police going straight to force instead of letting the strikers do a pacific strike. The students inside the campus were denied food because they thought that this was the best way to control the situation.
Thanks to the administration’s emails, television commercials, and even the daily newspaper the whole society had the wrong impression about the students. There are many laws which are and were established by the governor, Luis Fortuño, and the administration against the civil disobedience of the students. All of them were committing a peaceful civil disobedience, but since they were not following the rules the governor wanted them to follow, they were forced to use violence against the students, who have a right to express themselves. The Colegiales en Acción (CEA) is a group which was created to keep the students and all of the society in sync with what was really going on. They posted articles, quoted the important facts that the UPR media wasn’t covering. Not even the newspapers wrote about the strikers’ opinions; many of the facts the society spoke about was the bad incidents but they never gave straight facts about why the incident happened. When the students were hit and abused by the police in the Congress (Capitolio) in San Juan, the newspapers reported that there was a riot and the students caused it. What they didn’t write about were the student’s motives, which were “the needs of all 11 UPR campuses regarding our education and the budget cuts”, said student Cristopher Santiago, another National Bargaining Committee representative.
The striker’s motives were not to turn the whole society against each other, it was to show what is going on at the UPR. The UPR system is like a society itself because all the students know how it works and how they can help. There were times when this seemed to be impossible, but the small groups that worked on the strike and the National Bargaining Committee never gave up and influenced the Board of Trustees to listen to their demands, to listen give them a chance. Most of the UPRM staff and students were working together in the strike because the new budget cuts and rules were unfair to everyone. Even though the UPR says that it is in a great debt, they never show any paperwork which indicates the current state of the UPR. All the UPR community wants is to know how they can help each other, how to help our education stay alive, and make one of the most important sources for our future to gain knowledge to close.
In conclusion, the strike was a great influence for the whole society and for the UPR community. Everyone learned that you can never trust the media completely, instead you have to be in the whole experience to know what is really going on. Although it lasted longer than it was expected, the students made history nationally and internationally by being the first generation of students who fought against the system and actually made a difference. Although there was not a lot of media coverage about this in the states, they still learned about the situation and thought that it was a great struggle for Puerto Rico but a great accomplishment.