Indiana University Students strike

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.
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