UIUC Joins National Day of Action to Defend Public Education

On Thursday, October 7, students, professors, and campus workers of the Campus Labor Coalition at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign joined in a national day of action to save public education. Some 200 people showed up at a rally in front of the Alma Mater. Report cards were displayed and the crowd was permitted to grade the university on its performance. In recent years, the university administration has ballooned while tuition has gone up 9.5%, the number of black freshmen on campus has plummeted, and wages have been frozen. Due to these conditions, the grades given to the university were dismally low, with all Fs except for a D- in legislative lobbying.

The grade cards were then taken to the Swanlund Administration Building and delivered to the office of Chancellor Bob Easter. The following day, on October 8, a meeting is scheduled between members of the Campus Labor Coalition and University of Illinois President Michael Hogan at noon in the University YMCA Chapel. Today was only a report on mid-term grades. We will have to wait to see if the university administration will improve its standing.

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Budget Cuts Don’t Heal

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
October 8, 2010
11:00 AM

CONTACT: Student Labor Action Project
Chris Hicks chris@jwj.org; (202) 316-0237

Budget Cuts Don’t Heal

NATIONWIDE - October 8 - The Pell Grant will be underfunded 5.5 billion dollars next year. Tuition is going up 8% every year for a national average. Student debt is now the largest form of debt in the United States, passing credit card debt. 65,000 students are denied the right to an education every year based on their documentation status.

These somber facts and figures led to students walking out of classes and holding rallies in 25 states yesterday, as higher education faces the largest crisis it has ever come up against. With over 76 actions nationally, students declared a National Day of Action to Defend Higher Education organized in part by the Student Labor Action Project. Students responded, and had no shortage of symbolism to show how dire the situation has become for students.

At Wichita State University, students created a guillotine with debt as the blade coming down on their heads. "Debt is cutting us off from the jobs we used to dream of having, like being a teacher," said Aaron Rivers, a student at Wichita State. "It forces us into the corporate sector to find a higher paying job to pay off loans... and we don't even know if these jobs exist."

At the University of Central Florida, students created an interactive "Jenga Blocks Economy" symbolizing what is really important in our society. After showing how politicians are trying to create a society where education and workers rights aren't prioritized, they tore it down and rebuilt. The economy they demand starts with education and workers rights being the base blocks and building up community.

"Hey Legislature, cut from the top, cause when you cut from the bottom this is what happens," yelled Margaret Bastar, a UCF student, as she pulled one of the bottom boxes and watched the economy tumble.

Around the country students showed they won't back down and that this is a fight they will continue until education is prioritized, including atTo Whom It May Concern: the ballot box. In January thousands of students like Margaret will ask state legislators to stop budget cuts and instead end tax breaks for big businesses and the rich.

For a link to the video of the UCF action, go to: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mp4CRMb4R-g

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The Student Labor Action Project (SLAP) is a joint initiative of Jobs with Justice and the United States Student Association that engages student organizations in economic justice campaigns. SLAP supports the growing student movement for economic justice by making links between campus and community organizing, providing skills training to build lasting student organizations, and developing campaigns that win concrete victories for working families.

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