Students Gain After Strike in Puerto Rico
By DAMIEN CAVE
MIAMI — Thousands of students at the University of Puerto Rico who went on strike two months ago to oppose severe budget cuts declared victory on Thursday after reaching an agreement with administrators.
As part of a deal brokered by a court-appointed mediator, students would end their strike — one of the largest and longest such walkouts in Puerto Rican history — in exchange for a number of concessions. Most notably, the university’s Board of Regents has agreed to cancel a special fee that would have effectively doubled the cost to attend the university’s 11 public campuses.
The deal also includes a promise that there will be no sanctions against strike organizers, who clashed at times with the police at the main Río Piedras campus outside San Juan.
The accord must still be approved by a general assembly of university students, which is expected Monday. Christopher Powers, a literature professor at the Mayagüez campus, said it was “nearly a complete victory for the students,” noting that they failed to get a promise that there would be no large tuition increase next year. Professor Powers said planned cuts later this year to the salaries and benefits of professors could set off another round of conflict.
“The fact that a student movement was able to force the administration and the government to sit down at the negotiating table and concede to nearly all their demands is a very important precedent,” Professor Powers said. “It will serve as an inspiration.”