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As students were moving into campus dorms along Florida and Pennsylvania Avenues in Urbana, the SEIU Local 73 and the Campus Labor Coalition held a rally to bring attention to the deepening crisis in public education. The union also held other pickets across campus throughout the day. At lunchtime, they marched in front of students and parents chanting “Students Move In! Tuition Hikes Out! Students Move In! Wage Freezes Out!”
As freshmen students return to campus this fall, they face a 9.5% tuition increase voted on this summer by the Board of Trustees. The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign is asking workers to accept wage freezes and recent hires among the Building Service Workers are recommended to take a 13.5% pay cut. Across the campus, empty faculty positions are not being filled, job searches are being cancelled, tuition waivers for graduate students in Fine Arts are being rescinded, and annual contracts for lecturers and instructors are not being renewed.
Meanwhile, the incoming University of Illinois President Michael Hogan will receive an annual salary of $620,000, what adds up to a 37.5% raise. Those at the rally were also stunned to learn about a new $150,000 rug imported from India that was recently installed in the President’s House.
Many workers took off their lunch break be at the rally and had to leave early to return to work, but in total there were approximately 80 people who were in attendance. Other supporters were there from the GEO, Campus Faculty Association, and the Undergraduate-Graduate Alliance. Throughout the day, there were some 200 people who marched and carried signs at designated locations across campus.
There was coverage by the local TV stations and WILL radio, although there appeared to be no press from either the student newspaper, The Daily Illini, or the local News-Gazette.