From:   shaista husain <>
Sent time:   Friday, October 28, 2011 12:31:44 PM
Subject:   SPAM-MED: Re: [september17discuss] Structure Proposal GA Tonight

Please forgive me for being so long... i have already posted today...

but i think this should be addressed, and i have not made up my mind

at all, i respect the folks who are working on this structure to

address real problems.


But, I must speak from experience. I was part of the CUNY coalition

against the Budget Cuts many years ago when it was initially formed,

the first round of battles to save Open Admissions. We did fail to

maintain complete free access and open admissions. At that time, we

started off with huge open general meetings at Grad Center, inviting

labor, union, community, press, activists and of course all students

from CUNY as well high schools. This is how we set off the movement

that culminated in 40,000 students marching from City Hall to wall

street to "shut the city down" march 23--it was a strong COALITION.

The police used tear gas and attacked us when we tried to march

without a permit. After that event, the students changed the structure

of the Coalition, and decided to evict labor and community from the

assembly and to assign representatives--so to be better "organized."

The first policy decided by this organization of students was to take

over local student governments in all the respective campuses. Once we

entrenched student "representatives" from each of our 18 schools, the

Coalition ceased to exist. The movement never picked up again, until

Sept 17--the second time this city has seen a movement of that SIZE.

So right now i see the same attempt at bureacratization and i am

concerned. I can be dead wrong, and please forgive me, i only make a

caution from my limited hindsight onto what was a defeat of CUNY

students from maintaining Open Admissions. There is a danger in

assigning people because it simply allows someone to do the job for

you--and when you think someone will do that job, you each of you, as

an activist, is no longer responsible. This can quickly crush a

movement that is open to public, free, messy and fluid and democratic

meaning allowing everyone to walk in make decisions.


In this proposal, it is claiming that a "spoke" can be recalled any

time, i doubt anyone will have to courage to publicly call out a

spoke--it represses opposition because, one has to make a polemic and

attack another in public--expose the spoke as "not adequate" for the

job, are we getting into hiring and firing? This creates turmoil. Lets

assume no one has the courage to do that because we are kind to each

other, why should a person chosen to speak by the whole group, be

recalled by one individual. Why should the same one person be speaking

and every one sitting BEHIND them? If this isn't hierarchy i don't

know what is... i think because each working group should have

multiple and different views on issues, how should the burden of those

varying points be dumped into the responsibility of one spokesperson?

(At least they should propose two spokes per group, preferably a male

and female perhaps, or one position and its opposite) These two spokes

should further be rotated every week--so the same person is not

"speaking for" the working group. IS this structure creating full time

jobs for one "spoke" i guess how does a group choose the spoke,

through a series of interviews everyone--politicians are often the

ones with big egos who everyone chooses....some people are part of

several working groups as well. Rotation of the two spokes may

encourage folks on the margins to enter the core and participate, but

this is not addressed in this proposal==rotational leadership. Having

one "spoke" representative and everyone sitting behind them is

condescending. drawbacks of rotation is that there could be lack of



I have visited the weekly coordinating meetings and everyone sat in a

circle, there were many folks from various groups, down to earth,

everyone introduced themselves..I mean its hard enough that working

people can make it the GA and their working group meetings as well as

the coordinating meeting. Hard working members of groups will make

sure they attend weekly coordinating meetings--but also anyone can go,

speak or stay quiet, report back to their working group. Having this

spokes council every two days, will most certainly displace the GA cut

it down to half--and what if there is an important decision to be made

like supporting a general strike, we will have to wait a day....The

spokes council is also akin to having a coordinating meeting of

working groups every two days, now can ONE spoke make it every two

days? This is a full time job, and creates an unequal division of



The coordinating meetings between working groups, in my opinion, are

fluid and interesting, The structure of relegating spokes is a heavy

one --it is pure fantasy that a spoke supposedly has no power--to

speak is to have power--to not be able to speak and just sit behind

one person is also disempowering and suppression of difference within

working groups.... folks disagree because they want to point out

conflicts contradictions, bring another side to the equation, this is

good for a debate... minority views are a requirement for good

organizing, that is how folks change their views, by addressing each

others' differences and coming to understanding of opposition. We can

agree on one thing, but disagree on another, there is fluidity... If

there is a topic at hand, someone sitting behind may have an important

solution or contribution to make--yes a spontaneous out of the blue

brilliant epiphany--but a spokes council will ensure that it will not

be heard. until the next meeting, or forgotten. Conversations are

"speaking" develop in real time not in some structured time --if

anything we should focus more on facilitating further debates allow

more voices to speak and enter--not ratification of one speaker.







On Fri, Oct 28, 2011 at 12:50 PM, Jackie DiSalvo <> wrote:

> Rob.


> I love the GA, but I don’t know how many you have attended. I brought my

> women’s group last Friday, and after sitting through a 40 + minute

> discussion on what to pay to rent a truck, they were turned off and left

> saying they, very active women, could never afford to function that way. Not

> many of our hard working Labor Group members attend GAs as they are now. The

> analysis by the Spanish occupiers of why their GA, which was great in the

> early stages, eventually failed points to the same problems we have tried to

> address. They said boredom, disempowerment and dilemmas rising from the

> consensus method caused people to leave (see Doug Singsen’s post Thursday

> 9:40).  I think the new structure will make the GAs more participatory when

> it comes to important decisions.




> ________________________________


> From: [] On

> Behalf Of rob hollander

> Sent: Friday, October 28, 2011 12:24 PM

> To:

> Subject: Re: [september17discuss] Structure Proposal GA Tonight




> The beauty of a GA is that anyone can speak. It affords an admittedly

> limited but yet fully equal enfranchisement and empowerment. So far, OWS,

> using a GA, has been successful, I venture to say, way beyond anyone's

> imagination. You are about to fix something that has empirically worked. If

> it is dysfunctional, do not assume that's a problem. Study OWS's success

> first before assuming it needs repair.


> The purpose of a structure is to make decisions. That's assuming that OWS is

> an organization. Well, in August, it was: an organization designed to create

> a social movement.


> It succeeded: OWS is now a social movement, not an organization. Social

> movements don't make decisions.


> Organizations within a social movement make decisions for themselves. That's

> what OWS should allow to flourish. But to imagine that some structure should

> call itself OWS and make decisions for OWS is, well, to coopt the movement.

> This structure is a coopting of a social movement.


> I find great wisdom in the GA. I find this spokes structure at best

> counterproductive, at worst, divisive, disempowering and a threat to the

> local effort.


> Once a structure makes decisions easy, there will be too many decisions and

> many will be mistakes. Where OWS needs such quick practical decisions like

> financing, OWS ought to set up structure for those, but only for those.



> On Fri, Oct 28, 2011 at 11:17 AM, Jon Good <> wrote:


> This is SUCH a better proposal than the one initially brought to the GA last

> week!




> On Fri, Oct 28, 2011 at 11:06 AM, Marisa Holmes <>

> wrote:


> Hi everyone!


> I'm in the structure working group.


> For the last 3-4 weeks we've been meeting to discuss


> the coordination and communication problems in OWS.


> The result is the following proposal:




> Tonight, we will be presenting at the GA.


> Please come.


> We need this.




> In solidarity,


> Marisa





> --

> Rob Hollander

> Lower East Side Residents for Responsible Development


> 622 E 11, #10

> NYC, 10009

> 212-228-6152