Associated Students of Portland State University President Dana Ghazi issued a statement to the PSU body Tuesday afternoon calling for student action. The statement, titled “Time for Mass Student Movement,” was sent to students’ university email accounts.
“To the Community at Portland State University,
We as students are facing a host of challenges on campus. Institutions of higher education have been transformed into laboratories of corporate restructuring which reproduce rather than eliminate the inequality and oppression we face in our everyday lives. Some of our students have to make a choice between buying a textbook and buying food. The food pantry is struggling to serve hundreds of students living the reality of food insecurity, sometimes while facing houselessness. In six years, the tuition at Portland State University has increased by 12%, leaving more students in crushing debt and many unable to access education that could better their lives. Students of color have to deal daily with the ugly face of racism and islamophobia, while sexual violence still plagues our campuses affecting women and transgender individuals.
Yet, the PSU administration and the business elites on the Board of Trustees decided for us that the solution to combat such systematic issues is to further increase tuition and bring more guns under the premise of creating safety. Far from bringing safety these policies and measures have statistically shown to escalate rather than de-escalate conflicts and are no solution to sexual assault. We find it particularly disturbing that at a time when an admitted national crisis is unfolding over the murder of black youth by police around the country that the administration and Board of Trustees are going through with arming campus security and hiring armed police officers.
Militarization of the police has mirrored a trend of increased militarization nationally, with the U. S. government waging wars across the Middle East and North Africa and militarization taking place at the US-Mexico border. Political debates are filled with anti-refugee, anti-immigrant rhetoric. Violence and destruction against people and the environment has spilled across our borders. But students are beginning to demand justice and ethical accountability of our academic institution, asking for divestment from fossil fuel, from private prisons and from corporations and institutions that benefit from the Israeli occupation of Palestine.
Inspired by the courageous action of students at the University of Missouri, we know this is the time for a mass student movement that links arms with our faculty and campus workers to build the power necessary to stand up to these structures and demand a radical change. Change that does not cover up the host of issues we are facing with half-measures and policies that produce more of the same. Today, we must Unite to fight for a just world, to oppose systemic racism, and to oppose all forms of oppression at home and abroad. We must Unite against the business model, which higher education has been reduced to. We demand free education, we demand a living wage, and we demand forgiveness of our student debt. We know this is a long fight. We know this is a hard fight but it is the only way we can make PSU’s slogan “Let Knowledge Serve the City” a reality. The path to transforming our university lies with us.
Dana Ghazi- ASPSU President
P.S. Furthermore, I would like to share this statement by the Portland State University Student Union endorsed by several student groups at Portland State University. We at Associated Students of Portland State University stand in solidarity with all students working actively towards social justice on our campus.”
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