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Two banners were dropped on the University of Illinois campus by a group of anonymous activists in the early morning of November 20th in solidarity with the UC occupations and the UC strike. This banner drop follows a three day strike in the UC college system, national and international solidarity actions with UC, and the recent local success of the Graduate Employee’s Organization in obtaining a fair contract.
One banner, hung off the English building, reads “Education is NOT for Sale. Support the UC strike.” The International Students Movement's statement “Education is not for sale” speaks to both the UC strike and the continuation of the fight against the privatization of public education in an attempt to make college more accessible. Another banner that briefly hung off the Alma Mater, alluding to cuts in the state budget and the continued pay disparity between administrators and other workers at the university, read “Chop from the Top. Solidarity with UC.”
In the UC college system, students are facing a fee increase of 32% over the next two years. The fee increase, approved by the Board of Regents on November 18th, includes an increase from $7,788 to $8,373 by winter quarter and to $10,302 from summer 2010 through the following academic year. This fee increase marks the ninth time in seven years that the UC Regents has supported an increase in the tuition fees of undergraduates. The UC college system is also increasing layoffs, furloughs and reducing nonunion salaries and retention rates.
The UC strike is just one fight in the battle against the privatization and increasingly limited access to public higher education. Locally, the graduate student union held a two day strike for a fair contract, eventually winning contract language that increases the minimum stipend, guarantees tuition waivers and provides better access to health and child care. In Champaign-Urbana, California, and New York, students are standing in solidarity with the struggles of those who seek to maintain public access to higher education.
The struggle isn't just here, it's everywhere!