iuonstrike

7

Strike Day One

On Thursday, hundreds of students from the University of Indiana walked out of class and joined a march to the ‘School of Education’ where the IU Board of Trustee’s were having a meeting.

The students were protesting low wages for the support staff at IU, high tuition for students, a population of minority students that has not doubled from 4 percent as previously promised by school officials and more.

Follow IUonStrike on Tumblr for updates. 

A brief personal account of IU's Strike

The past two days have been so incredible, I’m not even sure how to talk about them without sounding overly sentimental. Participants in the IU Strike created an open occupation of Woodburn Hall, one of the classroom buildings on campus, for two days, leaving only when forcefully evicted by police the first night but returning early the next morning. We had tons of free food, several literature tables, and signs and banners everywhere in and outside of the building. Woodburn also housed our assemblies, teach-ins, dance parties, and other recreational activities. The strength of our presence, physically and visually, made this space feel like our own and helped us build a strong feeling of community. We held several marches throughout the two days, including one with around 300 participants - probably the largest protest Bloomington has seen in at least a decade. We organized over three dozen alternative classes as a part of our “free university days,” which received wonderful feedback from those who attended. We also heard many stories of solidarity from around the country, including university students in Wisconsin, Michigan, Florida, and New York, to name a few. #iuonstrike was even trending nationally on Twitter during the first day of the strike.

As our final act of the strike, we marched away from Woodburn Hall arm-in-arm singing the lyrics to the anti-fascist anthem “Bella Ciao,” before we could be forced out by police. While there are many things that could have gone better about the strike, I feel so positively about the number of people who participated in various strike-related events and the intense feeling of solidarity that has developed over the past two days. To me, the strike seems like the beginning of something much bigger.

I will probably write a longer analysis later but right now I have to start working on all the homework for the two days of class I skipped. ~strike~

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On the night of April 11th, IU police evicted the occupied strike center at Woodburn Hall, making one arrest. The next morning, the second day of the strike, the building was reclaimed for the day. An assembly of nearly 100 people decided that the building could not be held against another police attack. At 9:30 pm, before the police could initiate violence, everyone inside linked arms to leave voluntarily and on their own terms, singing the old Italian anti-fascist song “Bella Ciao.”

The assembly as a whole sends greetings to those struggling against state repression of self-organized radio stations and web projects (Athens Indymedia) at the Polytechnic University in Athens. This is occurring in the context of massive austerity and the state’s need to prevent the spread of further resistance.  Even though the cuts and austerity measures here are so far only a pale shadow of what has been imposed in Greece, many of us have been inspired by the movements there. 

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While this strike here is over, it is only the beginning of our struggle. Likewise, we know that you will survive the latest attacks against free information and university autonomy, and only emerge stronger.

For more information on the repression against the struggle at the Polytechnic University of Athens Greece:

Athens IndyMedia and 98 FM under repression: Statement by the Indymedia Athens collective

Athens indymedia, 98FM and Radio Entasi repressed by the greek government: the story so far

“With my friends now, up in the city

We’re going to shake the Gates of Hell”

- “Bella Ciao”

-Today students at the University of Wisconsin Milwaukee dropped three banners in solidarity with the IU Strike. They also handed out flyers about the IU strike and a local labor struggle at Palermo’s frozen pizza company. This is what solidarity looks like!

Click here for more photos of the banner drops.

Strike Response to Provost Robel

The IU administration is scrambling to respond to the strike organizing spreading across campus.  The day after the Board of Trustees cancelled the second half of its meetings, apparently in response to the strike (see the Herald-Times, 4/3/13),  the administration sent out a new fear-mongering e-mail in order to try and break the strike’s momentum.  They are using their relative monopoly of information to absolutely reverse the truth.  

This past Monday, dozens of student protesters went to Provost Robel’s office to show their support for faculty and support staff facing anti-organizing threats made by the administration.  As they were walking into her office, her secretary began pushing protesters and blocking the doorway.  While we saw demonstrators attempting to duck under her swinging arms, we never saw anyone push her back or retaliate against her aggression. The Provost’s claims of vandalism in an ‘internal office’ are completely unfounded, to our knowledge, and there were several IUPD officers present throughout the encounter - no complaints seem to have been filed at the time.

The Provost’s email is a good indication of how the administration is planning to frame strike-day activities: all repression by the administration will be not about the strike but about “out-of-hand students being violent,” which is nothing but a distraction pre-scripted by the administration. Robel’s assertion that she cannot “pre-emptively excuse undefined behavior,” too, is an attempt to distract from the existing Conditions of Cooperation that IU support staff are subject to, which state “The university will not continue to employ any person who participates in, threatens, or encourages any strike, slowdown, work stoppage, or other interruption or interference with the activities of the university.” (Source)

Also, students involved in the strike movement now are people who have met with both Provost Robel and IUSA President Straub about issues of college affordability and diversity in the build-up toward the strike, and in doing so have ascertained that neither is sincerely prioritizing these issues. In a meeting with students called after the Board of Trustees meeting protest last spring, Robel was explicit about the need for a mass student movement to guarantee the future of accessible higher education, and only last week Straub told strikers that he would consider releasing a statement against repression of the strike. Their claims are not to be trusted.

Much of the support staffs’ pay increases each year are below inflation, and numerous members of the support staff have told us of the hardships they’ve faced over the past four years during which inflation has cut into their stagnant wages. (Source) Robel demonstrates her own lack of credibility with her grossly inaccurate denial of the wage freeze’s existence.* (Source) These slow pay cuts via inflation are a form of violence, as is the whisper campaign of threats against workers’ job security when they organize.  When Robel’s secretary pushed and shoved us,  that was also a mild form of violence, even though we didn’t feel a need to highlight her actions, because to do so distracts from the real issues.  When we went to the Provost’s office it was a response to the intimidation already meted to support staff, and we were willing to accept her secretary’s shoving as a small consequence for the stand we are taking.

The strike goes on April 11-12, despite the smears of the administration.

- IU on Strike Organizing Assembly

*(Board of Trustees President “Theobald listed 13 steps IU has taken to reduce operating costs, including cost benchmarking, health care cost containment, consolidated purchasing savings, the closure of the university-wide School of Continuing Studies, early retirement incentives and the first employee pay freeze since the 1930s.” H-T 12/8/12 See also: http://www.idsnews.com/news/story.aspx?id=75841)


They Want Us To Think The Money Isn't There...

But it is. It’s just in their pockets.

 These are the top earners for this past year of 342 people listed as having salaries $200,000 and over:

Crean, Thomas A (all compensation) Head Coach Basketball $2,448,584

Wilson, Kevin R (all compensation) Head Coach Football $1,221,647

Mcrobbie, Michael A (all compensation) President $974,097

Glass, G F (all compensation)Athletics Director $556,967

Wilson, K R $511,000

Shiffrin, Richard (all compensation) $388,444

Theobald, N D Vice President & Chief Financial Officer $378,017

Robel, Lauren K (all compensation) Provost $374,072

Marshall, Edwin C (all compensation) Ofc Academic Supp & Diversity Vice President $364,138 Hieftje, Gary M (all compensation) $361,613

Smith, D C $360,673

Venkataramanan, Munirpallam A (all compensation) Vice Chancellor $357,587

Graham, John D (all compensation) Dean $353,543

Kesner, Idalene F (all compensation) Dean $352,573

Morrison, Thomas (all compensation) Vp For Capital Projects $337,479

Hites, Ronald A (all compensation) $336,181

Carmines, Edward (all compensation) $330,815

Wang, Z $330,000

Applegate, John S (all compensation) Vice President $327,255

Smith, Daniel C (all compensation) $326,918

Applegate, J S $324,799

Podsakoff, Philip M (all compensation) Kelley School Of BusinessDirector $324,120

Kesner, I F $320,112

Soni, Ashok K (all compensation) Kelley School Of BusinessAssociate Dean $319,691

Source: http://www.heraldtimesonline.com/data/salaries/?ename=&edept=&yeardrop=2012&sortdrop=salary&esal_lo=200000&esal_hi=&empldrop=&go=Search&task=search

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Outside of the Board of Trustees meeting at Indiana University. 

A Striker's Personal Account of the Provost Office Incident

(Click here to read Provost Robel’s statement.)

What follows is my statement about IU On Strike and accusations made by Provost Lauren Robel. The statement was originally e-mailed to a reporter for Bloomington’s Herald-Times newspaper. Please read and share widely.

I am a participant in IU On Strike. I was present at Monday’s noise demonstration and march. I witnessed firsthand the events in Provost Lauren Robel’s office and I would like to dispute the Provost’s claims that her executive secretary was pushed or shoved in any way. The following is my personal account of what I saw on Monday afternoon:

Demonstrators entered the building with the intent of visiting Provost Robel in her office to deliver our basic strike demands, as well as demand that the Provost and other members of the IU administration promise to not retaliate against IU staff and faculty for participating in or organizing for the strike on April 11 and 12. When demonstrators entered the hall, we walked toward the room with the reception desk. Immediately, a staff member (presumably the Provost’s executive secretary, whom the Provost claims was pushed by demonstrators) held out her arms and legs against the door frame to block any person from entering. She did not ask about our intentions, she simply blocked the doorway and began pushing demonstrators away. She then began moving around to different sides of the door frame and protestors slipped in. As more demonstrators, including myself, streamed into the reception area, she left the doorway. At no point did any protestor push her.

After less than a minute of handing out fliers for the strike and chanting in the reception area, Provost Robel came out of her office. The Provost invited us into her office for a discussion. We obliged, and filled her office.After around fifteen minutes of discussion and debate with Provost Robel about our demands, we concluded that nothing fruitful would come of the meeting and we decided to leave. As we exited, some demonstrators left behind literature and fliers. The Provost’s claims that demonstrators broke into an office are absolutely false. All actions were taken out in the open and I did not witness anyone go behind closed doors. I feel that the Provost’s account of the events are, at best, gross exaggerations and, at worst, libelous and written for the purpose of repression. Additionally, I find it inappropriate that the Provost had her e-mail approved by IUSA, when no member of IUSA was present for the demonstration.

Provost Robel claimed in her e-mail that she was unaware of our demands, nor did she know what strikers intend to do on the days of the strike. This is false. I personally handed the Provost our list of demands, as well as a flier of scheduled events. She said she would look over them and thanked me for giving them to her. IU On Strike’s demands and scheduled events are not secret. They have been published on the Internet and on leaflets, which have been distributed as widely as possible.

I would like to emphasize that I am speaking on behalf of myself, not the whole of IU On Strike. IU On Strike is non-hierarchical.

- Momo Lemon

Thanks everyone for a great Thursday!

 Today was the first day of the IU-system wide strike.  At 7 am, 40 people initiated the open occupation of Woodburn Hall, setting up information tables and a hub for picket coordination.  For the next three hours, a total of 15 picket teams checked in, and were sent across campus to spread the strike – to dorms, workplaces, the major academic buildings, cafeterias, and bus stops. 

Breakfast was served at 9 am, eventually to 200 people.  By this time, teach-ins organized by undergrads, grad students and faculty were starting in Woodburn and other academic buildings, and people were beginning to gather for the strike demo.  At 10:45, more than 300 people left the starting point, snaking across campus. At the height of the march, 100 more people had joined, allowing us to take over 10th street as we returned toward Woodburn. A break was taken for lunch, during which a statement of solidarity was read from Indiana prisoners, which also included a call for support against repression in the Wabash Valley Secure Housing Unit.

After the break, a group of 150 left to protest the Trustees meeting, being held behind closed doors at Franklin Hall. Eventually, small numbers of people were allowed into the meetings, in groups of five, but only to passively watch the bureaucrats at work. As a result, the vast majority of the protesters remained outside, chanting, sharing stories of debt, and making noise. The university locked students out of the Board of Trustees meeting, a meeting traditionally open to the public.

Afterwards, we regrouped at Woodburn, convening an assembly to discuss our strategy and fanning out to participate in the teach-ins. During the assembly, a tweet was sent out, inviting folks to join us at the strike hub for games, dancing, discussion, and occupation of the space. During the meeting, police arrived and informed those assembled that they would be evicted from Woodburn Hall at 11:00. The general assembly extended until 10:30, with working groups immediately following. At 10:50, 26 cops arrived and forced strikers out of the building under threat of arrest. IUPD created a chaotic situation where there was none, bullying participants as they gathered their belongings. IUPD violently removed people, pushing and shoving them through the doorway. After everyone had been evicted from the building, IUPD forced their way into the middle of the crowd and arrested one individual for reasons unknown to us. This person has since been released from custody.

Despite the police provocation, hundreds of people participated in the movement for the first time. Many more waved at us out of dorm and classroom windows, while many support staff came out of their workplaces to cheer.  Many academic buildings were half-abandoned.  Solidarity actions were also reported at University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and the University of Michigan, while statements were received from many more schools across the country.  We therefore feel confident declaring the first day of the strike a success.  Not only did we make it clear to the Trustees that the political costs for cutting public education have gone up, but we are laying the groundwork for the sustained mass movement and disruption necessary to turn the university around. 

See you Friday, bright and early.

-Media Working Group

The court date for the one arrestee is at 1:30 today at the Monroe County Court House (7th and College).  Please consider coming to show your support, especially if you weren’t already planning to attend other events this afternoon.