Monday, May 17, 2010

I am writing to inquire whether your newspaper has any plans to cover the historic strike that has been taking place for several weeks at the University of Puerto Rico.

Students have been occupying the university for weeks, and have shut down the entire university system for 22 days now in order to protest recently proposed budget cuts (which would increase tuition costs and eliminate much merit based aid and athletic fellowships etc), in addition to the general corruption and mismanagement of the institution.

The strike speaks directly to the issues being faced by universities across the United States in the face of reduced government funding and the move towards greater privatization of public education.

Today is proving to be particularly important, as students voted yesterday to continue the strike indefinitely and the university administration is threatening to cut off water and electricity in the campus as a way of smoking them out. They have also increased police presence and there have been incidents of police brutality against parents trying to bring food and water to their children on strike.

These events are crucially important not only to the residents of Puerto Rico, but to the wider landscape of higher education in the US as they bring into stark relief the obstacles that university faculty and students face in protesting recent changes at their institutions (most notably in California), as well as the increasing turn in academia towards antidemocratic governance and the denial of public education to its citizens.

I feel like if these events were happening within the continental US they would have received substantial news coverage and I do not understand why there has been no mention of this in the New York Times, which is such an important source of news for the broad US public, including its many Puerto Rican readers.

I urge you to please cover this important current event, and extend myself to you as a resource (I am a political anthropologist and a Caribbean specialist). I would be happy to collaborate in any way and to help you connect to appropriate informants in Puerto Rico.

Thank you, I look forward to your timely response.

Yarimar Bonilla

No comments: