UIUC Marches Forth for Public Education

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ON MARCH 4TH, 2010 several organizations
on the UIUC campus and people
across the country gathered to “march
forth” for a National Day of Action to
Defend Public Education. At UIUC,
more than 300 came together for a spirited
rally on what turned out to be the first sunny day of the
new Spring.
The march began at the Alma Mater statue with a dedication
to the Native American peoples
who “granted” the land on
which this land grant university
was built. Miriam Larson sang a
modern-day adaptation of the classic
Woody Guthrie song: “This land
is your land,” adding the lyrics,
“From Illinois to California, From
Minnesota to Arizona, Land grants
were made for you and me!”
Since the Graduate Employees’
Organization (GEO) won its twoday
strike in November 2009, the
number of people who have seen
the usefulness of mass action has
grown significantly. A group calling
itself the UC United Coalition has
formed to address the current
assault on public education. The
crowd of people they were able to
turn out included graduate students
from the GEO, professors from the
Campus Faculty Association (CFA), students from La Collectiva,
students from the Undergraduate-Graduate
Alliance, and union members from SEIU and AFSCME.
As they walked around the quad, the marchers chanted
slogans: “One, Two, Three, Four. We Know What We’re
Out Here For! Five, Six, Seven, Eight. Pay Up Springfield,
We Can’t Wait.” “Money for Education, Not Administration!”
“They Say Furlough, We Say Hell No!”
When they arrived at the Swanlund Administration
Building, where the Chancellor’s office is located, the
marchers held a large rally on the
front steps. Among the speakers was
Margaret Lewis from AFSCME , who
criticized the failure of the UIUC
administration, “It isn’t just the current
financial problem. It is the mentality
of the administration and the
corporatization of the university.”
Pointing up at Swanlund, she said,
“If there is an ivory tower on this
campus, this is where it’s located.”
The SEIU’s Gloria Van Buren, a
second generation service worker
on campus, pointed out that the rising
costs of tuition have not been
used to pay workers. “You guys
paid the rate hikes,” she said, “but
we haven’t seen that money in over
four years.”
Susan Davis, CFA Executive Committee
member and Professor in the
Department of Communication, said that the University of
Illinois administration’s policy “places the burden of the
current budget shortfall on personnel and students.”
Addressing the crowd, Peter Campbell, communications
officer for the GEO, cited Southern Illinois University’s
President Glenn Poshard who told the student newspaper,
“financial troubles have been on the backs of middle
to low income families too long.”
The UC United Coalition is planning to go to Springfield
on April 21 to lobby state officials to avoid further
cuts and save the future of public education.

About Brian Dolinar

Brian Dolinar has been a community journalist since 2004.
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