Students at the University of Puerto Rico, a public university that serves 65,000 mostly working class students, have been organizing and mobilizing to defeat a government plan to increase their tuition fee by $800 in January 2011. To protest this attack on their right to education, students sat down and slowed traffic on a major highway in the capital city of San Juan in November. This Tuesday, students raised barricades t0 blockade the UPR-San Juan campus for two days, beating off attacks by police and security guards. In the spring of 2010, UPR students went out on strike for 62 days, shutting down 10 of 11 UPR campuses and defeating most of the government’s cuts to the university’s budget and changes to the academic program.
A student, wearing a mask, sits on a barricade during a protest at the University of Puerto Rico in San Juan early Tuesday Dec. 7, 2010.
Puerto Rican Daily Sun, December 10, 2010
Students at UPR Piedras hold vigil to keep cops off campus
“As long as there is a police presence inside the University, there will be no classes,” said the spokeswoman for the Student Representation Committee, Maria Soledad Davila. “Police have not entered the university for the last 30 years, and when they have, it has been to repress ideas and limit the project of a public university.”
It was not business as usual at the University of Puerto Rico Piedras campus Thursday as students, teachers, labor groups and political organizations presented a united fund to boycott classes.
While students gathered outside the gates, refusing to go to class, their professors met off- campus and voted not to teach as long as police remained on campus. They also postponed the strike vote they had approved last week in exchange for the administration receiving the students for a dialogue. Several organizations demanded that the police be removed.
“There is no doubt that the government is frightened by the university’s power, and the love the people have for it as an institution,” said Maria Gisela Rosado, president of the Puerto Rican Association of University Professors, in reference to the presence of police on campus. “We want this fee to be canceled, or at the least put on hold, until the institution can get on an even keel, and all of us can look for ways to resolve this,” she said. The group also urged the people to join the march from the Capitol to La Fortaleza scheduled for Sunday at 1 p.m. Continue reading