The Abolitionist UC Program at Strike U

In his essay, Racial/Colonial Genocide and the “Neoliberal Academy”: In Excess of a Problematic, Dylan Rodriguez proposes that “radical intellectuals’ inhabitation of existing institutional sites can enable both ethical opposition to structures of domination and creative knowledge production that strives to glimpse the historical possibilities that are always just on the other side of terror and degradation.” Strike U’s engagement with abolitionist thought seeks to do this within the specific context of the University of California.

The University of California has from its inception been a tool of the anti-black, settler colonial imagination – from its status as a landgrab university to its imbrication with the military industrial complex. Further, rather than create pathways to education for black, brown, and low-income communities, the state is investing heavily in pathways to prison. Between the years 1984 and 2005, the state of California built 21 of the 35 prisons that the CDCR operates, under the guise of job creation. In that same period of time, the state funded the creation of 1 UC campus at Merced. California spends close to $47,000 annually to incarcerate one prisoner, compared to $9000 to educate one K-12 student.

Further in the last decade, rising tuition costs have made it exponentially harder for black and brown students, and those from low-income communities, to access an institution that supposedly provides 'public' education, which is only going to be exacerbated in the current recession sparked by COVID-19. In the same period of time, the UCs have militarized their campus police force, and deployed them against students and staff, in a variety of ways – through intimidation, surveillance, and violence. Jackie Wang's Carceral Capitalism further details the "intimate collaboration between domestic law enforcement, the university, the Department of Defense, Silicon Valley, and the media.”

In Abolitionist University Studies: An Invitation, the authors ask: “Are prisons and universities two sides of the same coin? When we raise this question, does it make you anxious? We feel this anxiety, too, and we want to sit with it, to grapple with the impasse such questions open up.” Strike U's abolitionist UC study is committed to engaging with this impasse, not only through scholarship, but also through on-the-ground activism. As Ruthie Gilmore writes in the Golden Gulag, “in scholarly research, answers are only as good as the further questions they provoke, while for activists, answers are as good as the tactics they make possible. Where scholarship and activism overlap is in the area of how to make decisions about what comes next.”

This commitment to activist-scholarship has driven many of the programs organized through Strike U (Cops Off-Campus Teach-in, Police Accountability for Our Unhomed Neighbors) or offered through our partners (Stop LAPD Spying series). On May 8, Strike U launched its Abolitionist UC program, the first in a series of conversations and actions towards enacting our abolitionist desires in relation to the university. We will continue our study of abolitionist frameworks through an Abolitionist UC Study Group this summer, which will include a cross-campus reading group, and campus-specific convenings to think through actions in localized contexts. Given the current uprising in the US around the ongoing murder of black people at the hands of the police, Strike U wants to reaffirm its commitment to police and prison abolition. We hope you will join us for the study, and for the actions that follow.

Police Abolition Study Guide

In 2020 Summer, Strike U organized a weekly community-led research study where we came together to collectively research and create a resource that would answer our questions about: Histories of policing, Alternatives to policing, Current Defund Police Campaigns, Police in Educational Institutions, Perspectives from Outside the US, Local Resources (Davis, Santa Cruz, etc), and other issues. The following bibliography is the outcome of that summer long study project:

︎ Abolitionist UC • Beyond the Carceral/Racial Capitalist University

Below is one of our events from the Abolitionist UC series. For more abolitionist content on Strike University, check out our Archive of Events. Search for and click the tag ‘abolition’ underneath events to get a full listing.

Black Lives Matter Resources + Strike U Statement


General Black Lives Matter Resource Card

Donation Funds


Educational Material

Resources for Protests

  1. image scrubber - for anonymizing photographs
  2. riot medicine 
  3. What to do when Cops are at your door PDF and Plain Text
  4. Muff the Police! Sonic Care at Demonstrations

Strike University statement on Black Lives Matter Uprisings

Strike University wholeheartedly supports current uprisings around the country for justice, dignity, and human rights for Black people, and against racism, state violence, and the carceral state. We have centered abolition at Strike University since our founding through our programming and our vision to “decolonize, democratize, queer, and abolish the university as we know it” and will continue to do so. In just the last months, we’ve already witnessed police abuse on our own campuses, including the violent arrest of a Black UC Irvine alumna and the University of California Santa Cruz using military surveillance technology against its own students. In addition, seeing UC Berkeley Police Department stand at the front lines to repress protests in Oakland and UCLA allow the Los Angeles Police Department to detain protestors at the university’s Jackie Robinson stadium shows us yet again how policing on our university campuses also reinforces state violence off-campus. So we continue our demands as part of the COLA movement for the demilitarization and, ultimately, abolition of University of California police.
Black Lives Matter! No justice, no peace!

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Decolonize, democratize, queer, and abolish the university.