Escape from Mr. Piguin

LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Explanation for Jan. 12 arrests from President Rosenberg

I know that many of you have heard that two students and five individuals who are not students were arrested on Thursday, January 12 for disrupting school functions. One of the most fundamental characteristics of the academy is the free and open expression and discussion of all points of view and FIU has a rich history of allowing and supporting individuals and groups to express their beliefs and opinions without hindrance.

Occupy FIU: reevaluate message, strategy

By: Philippe Buteau / Staff Writer

The FIU offshoot of the Occupy movement needs to chill and fall back for a bit.

By that I mean the group’s members need to be very careful with what their overall message is, including what they say to the media, and it needs to stop with the rallies, teach-ins and anything else they plan on doing on campus until they get a more realistic set of grievances for occupying.

The Jan. 12 arrest of seven Occupy FIU members did more to delegitimize the group than legitimize them.

On that day, FIU Police officers arrested members of the group for unlawful assembly. The members said what they were doing was not a protest but a music festival in support of the anniversary of the Jan. 12 earthquake in Haiti.

News reports from FIU Student Media, The Miami Herald and NBC Miami on the day of the arrests all had quotes from members of Occupy FIU in which they said they received permission for their event from “the ombudsman.” They didn’t say Larry Lunsford, the University ombudsman, just “the ombudsman.” This makes me wonder if the group even went to Lunsford, but regardless he isn’t the one that grants permission for such events. He only knows.

In NBC Miami’s report, Derek Mustelier, a University student and member of Occupy FIU, said he didn’t know he’d be arrested but “that’s what happens when you challenge the status quo.”

Mustelier didn’t clarify whether being a member of the group or the music festival was challenging the status quo, but his quote suggests something more was being done or said during the festival.

Mustelier also said he was sure University administration stopped the festival because it was associated with Occupy FIU.

I disagree with this notion because if that were the case then the occupation of the Graham Center lawn in Nov. 2011 would not have been allowed. Also the two-day long teach-in, which took place in the Deuxieme Maison pit in Nov. 2011 would have been stopped also. Mustelier even said in the NBC Miami report the event in the DM pit was not stopped.

As for their reasons for occupying, Occupy FIU needs to fall back and come up with better occupation reasons and exclude tuition as one of them.

For those who don’t know, tuition has risen by 15 percent every year since 2009-2010 – seven percent from the University and eight from the State University System Board of Governors.

However, those increases are reactions. FIU and the BoG reacted and are reacting to the state Legislature’s continuing reduction in higher education funding.

This fiscal year, 2011-2012, the University received $157 million from the state compared to last year’s number of $228 million. That number is down by $71 million or about 33 percent.

The University can’t just make do with less money; it has to make the difference up somewhere. Unfortunately for us that somewhere is our wallets.

I agree with editorials The Beacon has published in the past in which they said tuition increases are necessary evils.

If, as a student, you want your academic program to receive funding but the state is providing less and less money than we’re going to have to pay a bit more.

Saying “no” to tuition increases without taking everything into perspective is an immature reason to occupy this university.

A small bit of research can turn up a wide range of other reasons to Occupy FIU.

To name a few: the fees students pay regardless of whether we use that particular activity and/or service, a University-wide smoking ban that neither a majority of students nor faculty asked for, a Strategic Plan of adding 2,000 more students a year to reach 60,000 enrollment by 2020 even as the University struggles to provide enough classes and improve the services for the students currently enrolled.

Seminar targets importance of activism in universities

Whether peaceful or violent, civic displays of objection surfaced globally in the past year as protesters brought their causes to the public eye. Local displays such as Occupy FIU are bringing a national sense of protest to FIU’s campus.