News Reclaim the Commons

Another attack on the People’s Commons

Community, we are outraged. During spring break, Graduate Center Human Resources administrators removed the Dirty Laundry #tendedero (clothesline) from the 8th floor Reclaimed Commons, a project which bore witness to gender and sexual violence associated with CUNY. 

(Above: the Dirty Laundry tendedero at the People’s Pantry.)

The tendedero follows a tradition of Latina women’s public protest to air out information on sexual violence and gender abuse, and to expose their abusers. The tendedero at the GC Commons was first installed for the week of 8M, International Women’s Day. Its organizers decided to leave it up as the GC community was still actively contributing to it. The exhibit had also inspired another tendedero pop-up at Lehman College.

(Above: Tendedero at Lehman College put together by three sections of Spanish as a Heritage Language courses. Title reads: El Tendedero de Nuestros Derechos [The Clothesline of Our Rights])

Besides complaints of the limitations of the Title IX process and feminist slogans like “Fuck Misogyny,” one of the last contributions to the tendedero was a #LasCausalesVan, green bandana, left by Dominican activists during the Fight for Abortion Rights in Dominican Republic and the US event, held at the Commons on March 22 with activists from the Dominican Republic and CUNY for Abortion Rights. The green bandana has been a symbol of  the fight for abortion rights across Latin America and Las 3 Causales (the three exceptions) is the campaign for legalization of abortion in three instances in the Dominican Republic. 

(Above: Screenshot of post by Nicole Pichardo, Dominican activist for abortion rights and sexual education)

The area where the tendedero stood served as a place to leave flyers and zines with information about bodily autonomy, abortion access in NY and other resources, and to continue conversations on the increasing violations to our bodies and rights. 

A Reclaim the Commons organizer was able to retrieve the materials which management had stuffed in a cardboard box.

This attack comes a little more than a week after GC upper management ordered the removal of our Martin Sostre installation (which is now currently on display on the first floor of the Library). It is absolutely asinine and unacceptable that the GC administration continues attempts to disappear community installations that speak out against imperial, racial, and gender violence and oppression. In doing so, President Garrell is participating in and reinforcing the very harmful silencing and discrimination that our community is seeking to combat. They literally stuffed testimonies of sexual violence (which community members symbolically “aired” on clotheslines to expose them to the light of day) into a box!

The People’s Commons belongs to the GC community. Over the past semester, together we have made it into a place where folks can get essential resources like food and health items, do political organizing, share with and learn from each other, and actually enjoy spending time in the building—a true rarity in the Kafkaesque dungeon of the damned that is the GC. We will continue to hold solidarity events and put up activist installations in the People’s Commons. We will not tolerate a racist, sexist administration that seeks to dismantle our structures of solidarity and hope. 

Join us on Thurs, 4/25 @ 4-5pm, to bring this outrage to GC President Garrell and Provost Everett’s ‘community meeting’ in the Proshansky Auditorium. 

Upcoming events in the Commons: 

4/19 @7:30pm: Iftar celebration

4/26 @4:30pm: CUNY Struggles across Generations

4/27 @2-6pm: The Future of GC Public Scholarship

5/3 @6:30pm: Womyn Creators in Comix & Graphic Novels

5/10 @6pm: Study, Rebel, Repair, Liberate—collective book launch 

Follow Reclaim the Commons on social media (Twitter: @reclaimcommons, Instagram: cunyreclaimthecommons)

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