[News] Puerto Rico Students Shut down University over Austerity Cuts

Anti-Imperialist News news at freedomarchives.org
Thu Mar 17 10:47:53 EDT 2016


  Puerto Rico Students Shut down University over Austerity Cuts

March 17, 2016

The students are calling for people all over the country to 
join the protest against "unpayable debt" and austerity.

Thousands of college students from the University of Puerto Rico 
(UPR) approved a three-day, full-campus shutdown Tuesday to protest 
recent austerity measures, which they say endanger the higher education 

The students held a general student assembly, after which they marched 
through the university and closed all entrances to the campus. The 
students also called for the resignation of top university officials and 
announced they would consider an indefinite strike if their demands are 
not met.

At about 6:00 am Wednesday, the eight gates of the UPR were closed a 
reported 1,968 students decided to demand the immediate payment of 
remittances to the UPR by the Department of Finance, and the elimination 
of the freezing of the so-called “formula 9.6%."

The formula 9.6% requires the state to assign the University of Puerto 
Rico 9.6% of its annual revenues. The basis of this law is that the 
state has the social obligation to invest in a public institution of 
higher learning, to create and maintain a state university, without 
which no modern society can prosper.

"We must ensure the public funding of the university and cuts cannot be 
accepted as a solution to the crisis," said Naphtali Sanchez, 
representative of education to the negotiating committee that was 
established Monday in the assembly.

to the detriment of essential public services. In July, the government 
faces a debt repayment of US$1.9 Billion.

At the main entrance of the campus, the student Victor Velez 
Perez outlined some of the consequences the austerity measures have had 
on the quality of educational services during the past nine years.

"The administration is not guaranteeing us our own, permanent teachers. 
We need to have teachers who stay with us to foster that sense of 
permanence. Having contract teachers, transitory teachers, it affects 
our training," said Velez Perez.

At the meeting, the students also rejected a study commissioned by the 
Board of Governors of the UPR to the Association of Governing Boards of 
Universities and Colleges, which recommends consolidating functions 
of regional campuses, including other reforms.

A number of teachers have announced support for the strike, such as 
Professor Rafael Bernabe, a gubernatorial candidate for the Party of the 
Working People (PPT).

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