Baroccupy Obama: A Call to Action

This Friday, President Obama will speak about higher education at the University of Michigan Al Glick Field House. As citizens concerned about ensuring that education is accessible to all, Occupy Ann Arbor calls on the people of Ann Arbor, as well as on the UM community to stand in solidarity against the corporatization and control of public education by the 1%.

People will gather 8:30am Friday in front of the Blue Front store at State St. and Packard. Folks from Occupy Ann Arbor will be passing out flyers, then all will march together as close as we can get to the Field House for Obama’s 9:30 speech.

Bring chants, signs, noise makers, and good cheer as we stand up for accessible education!

Check out the Facebook event page here: http://www.facebook.com/events/286303971423199/

The Occupy Ann Arbor Direct Action working group has released the following call to action.

This Friday, January 27, President Obama will speak at the University of Michigan Al Glick Field House. Obama’s visit could not be more timely. As tuition costs rise, University President Mary Sue Coleman is becoming a vocal champion of market-driven “solutions” to decreased state funding. Last month, Coleman wrote an open letter to Obama in which she called on university presidents, business leaders, and wealthy individuals to tackle the rising costs of higher education.

It is becoming increasingly evident that leaders such as Obama and Coleman see education, less as a public good necessary for the health of our democracy, and more as an “investment” in stregthening US competitiveness in the global marketplace. At a time when the global economy is in crisis, Coleman’s aim to employ educational institutions in service of revitalizing the US economy may seem noble, but her market-centric language betrays her real priorities. When Coleman states that American business “has a vested interest in the talent and research embodied in higher education,” it becomes clear that she and her allies on Wall Street and in the US Chamber of Commerce want an educational system that serves the interests of the 1% over the rest of us.

Obama’s visit comes as Coleman calls for heightened collaboration between University and business leaders. UM is re-purposing ex-Pfizer properties to house researchers conducting corporate-friendly research and faculty “entrepreneurs” engaged in University-sponsored startup ventures. Coleman calls on wealthy alumni and “philanthropists” to contribute to University endowments, which in turn are invested on Wall Street and used to fund business ventures. These initiatives represent the same failed policies of corporate and political elites to drain public resources and impose austerity, all the while benefiting the 1%, whom our leaders have been quick to praise as “job creators.”

We call on the people of Ann Arbor, as well as on the UM community to stand in solidarity against the corporatization and control of public education by the 1%. We call on everyone to see President Coleman’s promotion of “entrepreneurship,” capital investment, and “philanthropy” in the face of neoliberal austerity as intimately connected to the myriad policies that have unjustly concentrated wealth in the hands of a small elite. We call on various groups to organize actions around the University’s crackdown on organized labor and to actively resist the pro-corporate policies of the Coleman administration. We are the 99% and we stand for education that serves everyone, not simply those with the deepest pockets.

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