To mark the one year anniversary of Occupy Wall Street, a coalition of students, educators, and community groups will host the Free University Week—creating education that is democratic, critical, and accessible to all. This event will be held in Madison Square Park from Tuesday through Friday, September 18 – 21, from 2pm to 7pm, and on Saturday, September 22, from 10am to 2pm. Participants will gather in solidarity with Occupy Wall Street’s one year anniversary, as well as with education movements in Chicago, Quebec, Chile, and beyond.
Just across the street from the Free University, on Tuesday evening, the Barack Obama presidential campaign will hold a $40,000 a plate fundraiser at the 40/40 Club, hosted by Jay-Z and Beyoncé and attended by the president. The cost and exclusivity of the event is a reminder of both the increasing concentration of wealth in U.S. society and the inaccessibility of the political system to ordinary people. “The fact that the 1% can spend $40,000 on an evening, while millions of people have tens of thousands of dollars in debt hanging over their lives for getting an education, shows that the system is out of balance. We need free education for all, as demonstrated in the Free University, now more than ever,” said organizer Carwil Bjork-James.
Of the over 130 scheduled workshops at the Free University Week, highlights include: ‘On Disasters and Encampments’ with Rebecca Solnit; ‘Occupying Language: A Conversation’ with Marina Sitrin and Dario Azzellini; ‘The NY Comics & Picture-story Symposium’ with Ben Katchor; ‘Strike Debt’ workshop series with Pamela Brown, George Caffentzis, Nick Mirzoeff, and Andrew Ross; ‘Student Unionism’ workshop series with a member of Quebec’s CLASSE student union, an Occupy Wall Street Screenprinters art shop, and an ‘Occupy Guitarmy’ musicianship certificate program.
The first Free University on May Day, 2012, welcomed over 2,000 participants for dozens of classes and workshops in Madison Square Park. This week-long reprise rides the momentum of Occupy Wall Street’s September 17 actions, in addition to other demonstrations against neoliberal assaults on democracy and social justice. These include the ongoing Chicago teachers’ strike, the recent victory of the ‘Hot and Crusty’ workers’ occupation in NYC, and the recent victory of the Quebec student movement that defeated a 75% tuition increase and ousted Premier Jean Charest. The Free University Week constitutes a hub of political education in New York City that will enhance the movement’s clarity, confidence, and direction for years to come.
OCCUPY YOUR EDUCATION WITH THE FREE UNIVERSITY WEEK
The Free University of NYC will host a week of free educational courses and events in Madison Square Park this September 18-22. Bringing together people from around the world, Free University will advocate for education as a human right and demonstrate our ability to implement free education for all.
HOW TO GET INVOLVED:
- Fill out the Free University NYC Registration Form
- Host a workshop, a skills-share, a teach-in, a reading, a performance
- Facilitate a discussion
- Move your class, kindergarten through college, all ages welcome
- Bring your community organization
- Assist with planning in the lead-up to September 18
- Assist with logistics on the days of September 18-22
- Volunteer with mutual aid, help out the info table, bring food, assist with child care
- Be a participant
Come see us at Madison Square Park!
September 18-21: 2:00pm-7:00pm
September 22: 10:00am-2:00pm
The Free University of New York City is an experiment in radical education and an attempt to create education as it ought to be. First conceived as a form of educational strike in the run up to May Day, 2012, the Free University has subsequently organized numerous days of free and open education in parks and public spaces in New York City.
Our project is born out of a recognition that the current system of higher education is as unequal as it is unsustainable. With increasing tuition at public and private institutions, the increasing use of precarious adjunct labor, and the larger and larger amounts of debt that students are expected to take on, a university education is systematically becoming a rarefied commodity only available to the few.
It is in this context that the Free University operates as a radical and critical pedagogical space. We collaborate on the following goals and principles:
- to be a cooperative enterprise working for a new form of education that re-defines what it means to be educators and students.
- to prefigure a more democratic, horizontal, and radical educational structure.
- to empower ourselves, each other, and our communities to become decision-makers in our own processes of self-education.
- to expose the inequities of the existing university system.
- to intentionally and conscientiously created educational spaces that are anti-oppressive, anti-racist, anti-authoritarian.
- to fight against the casualization and precaritization of academic labor.
- to join others who see education as a form of direct action by withdrawing from the failing capitalist education system, and collaborating in the realization of a more accessible education for all.