Nearly 250 students and faculty at Indiana University began striking on April 11 and 12 while trustees were meeting to decide on future tuition and fee prices, among other financial decisions. They striked to let the trustees and administration know the student body’s demands and that they were not going to sit back and allow what should be a place of education to become a business.
The strikers demanded several different things. The most prominent was for tuition to go down. Not because they felt it was necessarily too high, but because it is rising so fast. Also the reasons it was rising; despite the fact IU is a public college, 51% of the campuses funds come from student tuition while only 18% come from the state “as compared to 50 percent in the early 1990s. Our professors, the facilities, and the administration are paid for mainly with our debts,” states their facebook page: IU on Strike.
The students marched outside the building where the trustees met, chanting things like “raise hell, lower tuition” and “no cutbacks, no fees, just fire the trustees”. They held a sign that said in dripping red and black paint “1.4 trillion in student debt” as well as many dozens of smaller individual signs reflecting the same idea.
Also on the subject of money, they are upset that administrators salary’s were rising and unnecessary positions were retained while faculty’s salary remained stagnant despite rising costs of healthcare and parking, “and after an increase of over 45% in tuition and fees over the past six years, costs for students are rising yet again—by over $1000 for resident students in only two years,” states their facebook page. “Meanwhile, the administration continues to fund the construction of unnecessary new buildings and luxury-style apartment suites in order to attract wealthy students. There is a trend in all of this: university education, like the rest of society, is becoming a marketplace.”
The prominent demand besides those related to money is number 4: to raise campus diversity. In 2006, it was promised that IU would double the percentage of underrepresented students but during the term of then next following university president, the percentage of African-American students fell below 1976 levels, at only 4.1%.
Another note that they made was the campuses energy plan and that it focuses on cost efficiency instead of environmental effects.
Overall, whether the strike successfully changed the minds of the trustees and their financial decisions on April 11th and 12th, we do not know as of yet. What matters though is that a group organized together to make obvious to the IU administration that they will not sit back and let the world change for the worse. Education is not a business and should not be about making money.
In Wisconsin, Governor Walkers latest budget barley increases tuition for the UW system schools; a decision most all are content with. None the less, Walker believes all colleges should be privatized. Although this doesn’t seem to be an issue for our state right now, in the future we may see our colleges becoming more like IU is today, and if our state government tries to turn UWS into a business instead of a school, I hope the students will have something to say and stand up.