OCCUPY EDUCATION! SUSJ HOSTS PANEL DISCUSSION ON IMMIGRATION, CLIMATE JUSTICE, AND SAVING ETHINC STUDIES
SAN ANTONIO, TX—Students United for Socioeconomic Justice (SUSJ) will host their second in a series of panel discussions on the state of education and on other important issues in society. SUSJ is a political student organization at the University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA), whose main campaigns have been regarding the privatization of public education—the Occupy Education campaign—and Divest UTSA—a climate justice campaign aimed at divestiture from Big Oil. The panel discussion will highlight the topics of Immigration Reform, Climate Justice, Saving Ethnic Studies, and Occupy Education. The panelists will consist of prominent UTSA student leaders and activists representing various student groups on campus: SUSJ, MASSO, SAIYM, and others. SUSJ organized this event around what they feel as some of the most important issues in society. On April 25, 2013 from 7:30-9:30 pm at the UTSA 1604 Main Campus-Main Building Lecture Hall (MB 0.106), they invite community, students, teachers, faculty, activists, and concerned citizens to what hopes to become an annual tradition.
The topic of Immigration is arguably the most pertinent socioeconomic and human rights issue in society today, as evidenced by recent reform legislation by the Magnificent Eight in Washington D.C., and as such, SUSJ will feature two of UTSA’s brightest students who take up Immigration as their top priority. Also, with the deadline for President Obama to decide on whether to support the Keystone XL pipeline looming and numerous oil spills and energy disasters happening, the time is now to sit down and talk about climate justice.
The students of UTSA are integral parts of a public institution that retain a strong interest in the public good—in line with city and state governments, religious institutions, charity organizations, and non-profit organizations. Most of these institutions invest money in stocks and bonds, and have a responsibility to both divest from an industry that is willingly destroying our future and reinvest those funds in ethical solutions to climate change that are both renewable and sustainable—the notion of social ecology. Even as extreme weather events like Hurricane Sandy, floods, droughts and fires threaten to overwhelm local budgets, federal inaction to solve this crisis is all but stalled. The extraction, transport, processing, and dependency of fossil fuels has contributed to environmental degradation, human rights violations, and an unsustainable economic model that is driven by profits rather than ethics or regards to the ultimate resource—our natural environment.
Oil, Fracking, and the Environment
In the State of Texas, SUSJ contends that Valero Energy Corporation, Shell Global, British Petroleum, and the oil industry as a whole has taken a stance of blatant disregard for both the well-being of humankind and the world we inhabit. Unfortunately, UTSA has engaged in partnerships with some of these corporations. As such, SUSJ feels a duty to urge UTSA President Ricardo Romo to pledge (in solidarity with other schools and public institutions) to a divestiture campaign, while considering the push for the coveted Tier I status. In regards to our South Texas communities, the introduction of hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking”, to extract natural gas from the Eagle Ford shale deposit not only uses millions of gallons of water per frack job but has been shown to contaminate the water supply of residents living adjacent to the wells. New research and media coverage is emerging suggesting that our beloved aquifers (that we in San Antonio all depend on) are at risk of contamination. Both an overuse and contamination of South Texas’ already dwindling water supply is in blatant disregard of the future of its citizens. SUSJ’s divestiture campaign discusses sustainable courses of action for both UTSA and other public institutions alike through the SUSJ Proposal to Divest.
The State of Texas and the State of Public Education
The state of public education in Texas is under fire. Legislation aimed at redesigning and mainstreaming Texas public educational curricula unrepresentative of the needs of historically marginalized communities across the state. The pursuit of happiness is the American Dream, and access to education and equalizing educational arenas is crucial to this pursuit and success. Frankly, there is a neoliberal and neoconservative war on public education, and more broadly the public sector. The related push to end ethnic studies (most notably Mexican-American Studies, African-American Studies, and Women’s Studies) is yet a new battle in this arena. Further, education is becoming more and more unaffordable. Tuition is rising faster than inflation, students will likely be in debt for life, public funding is decreasing, unemployment is increasing, and minority students are feeling the brunt of cuts to education. Thus, the state of public education will be the focus of the panel discussion, ranging from Saving Ethnic Studies in Texas to the privatization and corporatization of public education.
The SUSJ 2nd Panel Discussion is also being held during Earth Week 2013, and SUSJ has some exciting plans to be announced at the panel discussion. SUSJ supports a green future in San Antonio and UTSA, and, thus the panel is an action in solidarity with real climate justice and sustainability, as well to solidarity actions with real, progressive immigration reform and supporting critical multicultural education found in ethnic studies courses. Finally, the panel serves to highlight the endeavors of local student activists and to thank them for their hard work that goes largely unseen. This is surely both an educational and important event that the community should not miss out on.