By: Natalie Ramos Vives
On December 2, at a General Assembly convoked by the Student Council of Mayagüez campus approve a motion against the new upcoming $800 fee in January 2011 imposed by the Board of Regents and rejected the vote for the rumors of a possible strike or stopping classes in the campus.
The assembly took place in the Rafael Mangual coliseum, and it started at 11:30am. This assembly was controlled by a group of students of the mayagüez campus, who were asking at the entrance for the student identification and making them sign their names of their department list. Around 3,000 students participated in the assembly exposing their thoughts about the problems the University is facing.
At the assembly they discussed three important topics: the $800 fee, the status of the University accreditation of the MSCHE (Middle States) and the problem with the food of the cafeteria Sodexo. They began talking about the upcoming fee that was the main polemic theme of the whole assembly. The Student council decided that any student who wanted to talk on the microphone in favor or against the fee could talk if they wanted to. The debate began when students expressed themselves, discussing the positive and negative consequences of the new fee and saying what would happen if the University was administratively closed one more time.
The UPR first strike began on April 21, 2010 as a 48 hour strike at the University of Puerto Rico at Río Piedras campus. In a Student Assembly, celebrated on April 13, 2010, students approved a motion to create a Negotiating Committee which was to talk and negotiate with the university administration. According to the Solidarity web site who is an independent socialist organization dedicated to forming a broad regrouping of the U.S. left there they informed: “Over 3,000 assembled students at the main campus of the University of Puerto Rico, voted overwhelmingly in favor of the indefinite strike”.
The second topic was about the University accreditation of the Middle State that according to the letter they sent to the UPR administrators, they put on probation ten of the eleven campuses of the University for Leadership, Governance and Educational Offerings. Some declared that if we go for another strike we might lose the accreditation, which can lead us to lose our year of study or even our own University. Many students were protesting out loud and yelling they didn’t want another strike. It was clear that the majority of people didn’t want the strike.
The third topic was the food of the cafeteria Sodexo, which they read a report that said that the government doesn’t give the University anything for the cafeteria or to the University itself. They suggested that students should fight for our University rights and demand the government to give us a better food service in all of the UPR campuses, which everyone agreed.
During the assembly many students had banners, big cards, papers that were expressing their personal thoughts about the fee and current University status. Students stood up to the microphone to make motions that no one agreed. When the assembly was near the end a student made a motion against the $800 fee and against a strike in Mayagüez. Contrary to other campuses of the UPR, like Río Piedras and Utuado, Mayagüez disagreed to have another strike. This motion was put to the vote of the students, who stood up to vote. The results were that most of students agreed that motion making this the end of the assembly.
At the end some students were agitated by the decision made and were criticizing the way the assembly was made. A chemical engineering student, Yamice Serrano argued: “This assembly was the most disorganize process that has ever been done in this semester and it ended with a cowardly decision of the students” many more students disagreed with how this assembly culminated and requested they wanted another assembly to discuss better the topic of the fee.
The other hand most of students were extremely happy for the decision made. A Business Administration Student Learis Jusino said that it was the right decision because doing another strike is something that would damage the University in all of the aspects and making a strike it’s not the smart answer to the problems.
Students are looking forward for another assembly where they can discuss what they are going to do for the upcoming fee in January. Most students are not fighting for the elimination of the fee; they are expecting a small group of students to fight for them while they just wait to see what happens.