University and High School Students Collaborate to Host September 20th Climate Strike

Student climate strike at UIUC, September 20, 2019

Between September 20 and 27, over 6000 protests took place in 185 countries as part of the Global Week for Future. Students walked out of classes, workers went on strike, and millions gathered to demand climate justice and take action against corporate greed and negligence. These strikes, which were part of Greta Thunberg’s historic Fridays for Future campaign, shared the common goal of raising awareness about the dangers of fossil fuels. According to the 2018 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, scientists agree that it is still possible to avoid climate catastrophe if we can dramatically reduce carbon emissions by 2030. This reduction is only possible if we increase the share of renewable energy sources (hydroelectric, solar, and wind), while keeping fossil fuels in the ground. Continue reading

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Homewrecker: Trump, the Kurds, and the Grand Strategy We Have Been Waiting For

Kurdish refugees fled ISIS in the past, and now flee the Turkish invasion

Donald Trump’s October decision to withdraw U.S. troops from Syria took his own advisors by surprise, not to mention the Kurdish military units that were U.S. partners in the war on ISIS during the past five years. Perhaps the only unsurprised party was Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who moved quickly to eliminate the Kurdish forces across his southern border. Within days Turkish bombardment began and thousands of Kurds were fleeing south.

Trump’s policy reversal was rightly condemned as a betrayal of the Kurds, but the episode is merely one piece of a larger shift that is moving like a wrecking ball through U.S. policy circles. The trend predates Trump, but his style is accelerating the dismantling of the only platforms we have for confronting the challenges the planet faces. The reversal in Syria is a good place to start in examining the Trump effect on U.S. foreign policy and on the planet. Continue reading

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Students for Justice in Palestine Triumphs in Illinois Student Government Vote

On October 23, student organizers and members of Illinois Student Government (ISG) were elated to hear that a resolution demanding an apology from University of Illinois Chancellor Robert Jones had been passed by a vote of 29-4. The resolution criticized Chancellor Jones’s Massmail, which conflated criticizing Israel with anti-Semitism. In his Massmail, Jones relegates a swastika incident to a footnote, but dedicates paragraphs to the “anti-Semitic content” of a Multicultural Advocate’s student presentation on Palestine. Jones later admitted in an in-person meeting that this opinion was based on the interpretation by one student. ISG members also voted to send out their own Massmail (ISG is allotted three Massmails). The Massmail would be a factual response to the Chancellor’s email. The ISG victory came at a time when Palestinian students were being harrassed online by means of death threats and Islamophobic slurs.

Chancellor Jones’s email also included a list of his steps to ensure a safe campus, including training for housing personnel and reviews of housing policy and paraprofessionals hired. Despite this detailed agenda, there was no discussion of investigating the swastika found on campus, nor have there been any further statements on the swastikas that have appeared since. Continue reading

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Expanded Medicare for All: What It Is and What It’s Not (Part Two)

The Illinois Single-Payer Coalition-CU (ISPC-CU) is on the move. Following its successful November 16 workshop on improved and expanded Medicare for All (Med4All), held at the Champaign Public Library, ISPC-CU is laying the groundwork for further grassroots action in the local community.

Future plans include continuing to collect signatures on petitions urging Illinois Senators Dick Durbin and Tammy Duckworth to sign on as co-sponsors of the Med4All bill introduced by Senator Bernie Sanders. Earlier efforts conducted by one of ISPC-CU’s co-founders, CU Democratic Socialists of America, paid off dramatically. Approximately 2000 signatures were collected at the Urbana Farmers Market. Open to both organizational representatives and individuals, ISPC-CU hopes to get resolutions in support of Medicare for All legislation adopted by local governmental bodies. Continue reading

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Affordable Housing—For Whom?

Billions of federal, state and local dollars were spent on affordable housing for low income people last year. Yet 2.5 million children in the nation were homeless. Close to 700 of them were right here in Champaign County.

Most “affordable housing” dollars are spent to help people other than the poor. Funding for programs involving home ownership or new construction of multi-family complexes is favored over the one type of housing assistance that reaches the most needy households: rent subsidy. Continue reading

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African American Cultural Center Gets a New Building

The new African American Cultural Center on the UI campus

After 50 years of political struggle, the African American Cultural Center at the University of Illinois has a new building.

In 1969, the Black Student Association (BSA) and Black Champaign-Urbana activists, with support from white students, presented 41 demands to campus leaders.

One demand was for a Black Cultural Center that would serve the “social needs of Black students.”

The outcome: Chancellor J. W. Peltason authorized the creation of a “temporary” Black Cultural Center, as part his very own Special Educational Opportunity Program, popularly called “Project 500.” Later, Chancellor Peltason amended the mission of the Black Cultural Center to serve all students and all Champaign-Urbana Black residents. Continue reading

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