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CCNY administration seizes Morales/Shakur Center, students fight back

By staff

Morales/Shakur Center at CCNY, photo 2006.

New York, NY – On Oct. 20, the City College of New York (CCNY) administration shut down the Guillermo Morales/Assata Shakur Student and Community Center in the North Academic Center (NAC) building. The Morales/Shakur Center is a hub of political and social activism at CCNY and the surrounding Harlem and Washington Heights communities.

As of early Sunday morning Oct. 20, the NAC building, which houses the Morales/Shakur Center and the library, were both closed during the day. Though the library has since reopened, the Morales/Shakur Center remains closed, despite a policy for all CCNY buildings to be open 24 hours during midterms week to allow students to study.

Police, CUNY security and administrators have been refusing to let students into the Morales/Shakur Center. Police arrested David Suker, a former CCNY student who sat in front of the door of the Center, as can be seen in this video.

Student and community activists are inviting everyone to come to an emergency press conference and protest in defense of the Morales/Shakur Center on Monday, Oct. 21 outside City College at 138th Street and Amsterdam.

The administration has placed a new sign in front of the Morales/Shakur Center that reads “Center for Professional Development.” A university representative informed students in a press release that the Morales/Shakur center has been closed and they intend to convert it into a Career Resource center. Books, documents and personal belongings of students were removed from the center and are being held and “examined.”

Students won use of the Morales/Shakur Center space in North Academic Center room 3/201 as a result of the 1989 CUNY student strike against a proposed tuition increase. The purpose of the space was for students to engage in activism and build links with the surrounding Harlem and Washington Heights communities. The administration tried to retake the space from student activists several times and also got caught engaging in video surveillance of the activist space in 1998. However, students and community members repeatedly fended off administrative attacks.

During one of those attempts to get rid of the Morales/Shakur Center in 2006, Ydanis Rodriguez, a leader in the 1989 student strike and a longtime leader of the Center’s community projects, stated, “In 1989 when we ended our organizing movement against the tuition increase proposed by Governor Mario Cuomo, we were able to persuade the governor not to increase tuition. At the end of that movement, as part of the negotiation, we got that space to use as a student and community center. The center has been a very important place at City College because this is a real link between the university and the surrounding community, especially Harlem, Washington Heights and El Barrio.”

A press release from Students for Education Rights (SER), one of the groups housed in the Morales-Shakur Center, says, “The Morales/Shakur Center is a space for community groups to meet on campus, for students to connect with their political elders and for movement histories to be retained and shared in Harlem. The Center has provided a space for students to organize around a number of issues recently, including the addition of gender identity into the school’s anti-discrimination policy and the combating of rape culture at City College. The closure of this space is a serious assault on our right as students to organize and cultivate community. This follows the Sept. 17 arrest of six CUNY students peacefully protesting David Petraeus’s teaching appointment. Furthermore, the CUNY Board of Trustees plans to impose a policy broadly curtailing our right to political assembly on CUNY campuses at its next Nov. 25 business meeting. Please join us Monday, Oct. 21 at 12:30 pm outside the North Academic Center to hold CUNY accountable for its stifling of student voices and disempowerment of community organizing.”

#NewYorkNY #OppressedNationalities #CityCollegeOfNewYorkCCNY #AssataShakur #MoralesShakurCenter