No. 6, April 2009
How Open Admissions Was Won in 1969
and Debates on the Struggle at CUNY Today
The following is a response to a broadside against the CUNY Internationalist Clubs that was written by D.S., a leading local activist in the International Socialist Organization, in the form of a report on a meeting of the Ad Hoc Committee Against CUNY Budget Cuts and Tuition Hikes held after the March 25  student/labor rally at Hunter College. It has been edited for publication.
For the moment I would like to put aside some of the highly-charged claims and accusations made in D.S.’s polemic (“Notes on the March 25 Meeting,” 27 March 2009), in order to focus on one of the fundamental issues to which he refers.
Early on during the post-rally meeting on March 25, I spoke to emphasize that in order to defeat attacks on the right to education at CUNY, it will be crucial to combine systematic organizing among students with a conscious effort to strengthen links with workers’ and immigrant-rights groups. Particularly if campus struggles become more militant, it will be essential to have pre-existing and active connections with sections of the labor movement. Thus, Internationalist supporters, and Class Struggle Education Workers members, had gone all-out both to help mobilize students and to get endorsements from a range of groups including the New York Taxi Workers Alliance, Jobs with Justice, the Frente Unido de Inmigrantes Ecuatorianos, and many others.
Particularly significant was the vocal and visible presence of a contingent of Stella D’Oro strikers, together with six to eight transit worker activists, several members of the Jornaleros (Day Laborers) of Woodside, the lead organizer of DC 1707 (representing daycare workers and others), immigrant taxi, construction and deli workers, members of three groupings within the UFT [United Federation of Teachers], the Starbucks Workers Union, a spokeswoman for Domestic Workers United, and other workers.
There were over a dozen student and faculty speakers from Hunter (including the PSC’s adjunct organizer). A number also came from BMCC, Baruch, Brooklyn, CCNY, Hostos, Lehman, Staten Island, the New School and other campuses. The rally was co-chaired by the lead organizer of the recent unionization victory among research assistants at SUNY-Stony Brook, and addressed by the organizer of the adjunct unionizing victory at Pace University. I pointed out that this is only a small beginning, but represents a real step in the right direction.
During the rally I noticed that many students, particularly “new” Hunter activists who had emerged in the period since the March 5 walkout, were excited and energized by the workers’ presence and speeches – but that a number of the “long-term” activists appeared surprisingly uninterested. It occurred to me that this might be related to previously expressed differences over the perspective for having such a rally on March 25.
Thus, at the post-rally meeting, I was struck when a spokesman for the Hunter International Socialist Organization (ISO) explicitly argued, in response to my remarks, that strengthening links to labor should not be a central priority in the coming period. This statement then led into much of the ensuing debate. [Two members of Class Struggle Education Workers and an Internationalist activist from Hostos Community College] made concrete and pertinent points, including examples from Europe, Mexico and the United States.
All of them stressed the importance of linking up with the power of the working class – and each stressed that this must be combined with mobilizing among students. In contrast, a number of participants in the meeting openly counterposed “student organizing” and “student leadership” to building links with the working class. As [several comrades] painstakingly explained, this is a road to defeat.
How Open Admissions Was Won
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