The Board of Visitors with President Rao have decided to increase tuition, once again, by $358 dollars. They increase these costs, trying to generate revenue off the backs of the students. Their choice to increase cost is a choice to increase the barrier between the predominantly black working class of Richmond and access to an education at VCU.
The predominantly black working class and poor of Richmond are also facing several school closures and budget shortfalls in the Richmond Public School System. Both of these campaigns by those in power are attacks upon poor people, further degrading their condition in the city, while consolidating the power of VCU and its dominance alongside local developers who want to turn Richmond into an affluent white urban playground.
This is only one example of the continuation of the white supremacist social order. We need to build organization to struggle against these onslaughts, while building real power to demolish the rich and their control over the resources of the city.
April 11th – RSCI organizers were initially greeted with roughly 80 students who marched from Open High School. Open High School is an alternative school within the RPS system and is known for its laxity towards its student body, which has facilitated the OHS students an ability to sustain walkouts over the past two years. And once again the RPS administration threatened the entire RPS student body that they would be suspended for walking out at the 2PM proposed time, despite this only being 30 minutes prior to the end of school. The level of intimidation did not end there, it was reiterated by numerous principles at other schools – going so far as to place security at building exits. One group that had dared to leave their school in southside was confronted by security who attempted to remove the students from the vehicle.
These are all clear signs that the administration – the same administration that proposed the closures, which created this point of struggle – DO NOT want the RPS student body mobilized. They recognize the danger it poses to them if the students were to organize themselves for their own interests, which run contrary to the interests of the administration – who are primarily concerned with their overinflated pay and careers.
After the initial wave of OHS students, other students scattered from across the city schools converged and teamed up with OHS students as they all marched and chanted “Who are we? RPS! What do we want? More money!” countless times around City Hall. RSCI organizers identified student contingents from Huguenot, Armstrong, Wythe, Open, and Community High Schools. It was a great chance to network with these mobilized students who dared to defy the administration. Our featured leaflet, along with another pamphlet, were distributed among the students and initiated conversation on the subject matter. What is the relation of the RPS school closures to white supremacy? How and why the school system got the way it did. And what we can do about it by forming student struggle committees?
Time will tell if RSCI organizers are capable and able to help build student struggle committees with the students to engage in struggle around their concrete demands against specific class enemies across these schools. So far, the budgetary issue being discussed by City Council has been postponed until April 25th. No clear decision has been made if the needed budget will be met, or if school closures are to happen. In the meantime RSCI organizers shall continue to work with all student contacts gathered thus far through this struggle in order to further consolidate and make proper preparations for the continued struggle against the RPS administration.
Local militants have begun the process of forming student struggle committees within the Richmond Public School system and within the Virginia Commonwealth University. We are actively networking with other students and their allies to build independent working class organization that can take political action to halt the assaults upon working class students – whether they be school closures or tuition hikes – in order to go on the offensive and win working class demands for working class power.
Better education and infrastructure for the masses!