FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: UC UNITED COALITION PARTICIPATES IN OCTOBER 7 NATIONAL DAY OF ACTION TO DEFEND PUBLIC EDUCATION

Urbana-Champaign (October 6): On October 7, The Urbana-Champaign (UC) United Coalition will hold a rally on campus as part of the National Day of Action to Defend Public Education. The rally will begin at noon at the Alma Mater where the crowd will grade UIUC administrators on their defense of the stated mission and values of the University of Illinois. The rally will continue with a march to Swanlund to deliver the grades.

Thursday is part of a national and international movement with actions expected across the United States on October 7 and international actions throughout the remainder of the month. The first National Day of Action to Defend Public Education took place on March 4, 2010 with actions in 32 states, including rallies on the Urbana-Champaign and Chicago campuses of the University of Illinois. The Urbana-Champaign rally brought together more than 300 undergraduate and graduate students, as well as faculty and staff, concerned with the future of public education in Illinois.

The University of Illinois Board of Trustees voted last spring to raise undergraduate tuition by 9.5%, and also reduced tuition waivers for some graduate students from full to base-rate waivers. “Our administrators have consistently pushed the state’s budget problems onto the backs of working and middle class families,” said Natalie Uhl, GEO Communications Officer. “We’re calling on the UIUC administration to be a leader in defending public education in Illinois by lobbying the state legislature for increased financial support and freezing tuition.”

The U of I administration is abandoning its commitment to public education.  At the most recent Board of Trustees meeting on September 23, University President Michael Hogan called for the university to become more financially self-sufficient, rather than demand public funds for this public institution.

With the second highest tuition in the Big 10, only a few hundred dollars cheaper than Penn State University, the University of Illinois is becoming increasingly inaccessible to all but students from wealthy families.  This is reflected in the diversity of the 2010 incoming class and the failure of the University to meet the goals set by the historic “Project 500.”  Less than five hundred African American students are enrolled in the 2010 freshman class.

Julien Ball, graduate student at the UIUC campus said, “The university is failing in its mission as a public, land-grant university. It is failing in its responsibility to provide an affordable, accessible campus for ALL of Illinois; and it is failing to provide an atmosphere that respects students, workers and faculty alike.”

The UC United Coalition includes the Graduate Employees’ Organization (AFT/IFT Local 6300,AFL-CIO), the Campus Labor Coalition, SEIU, AFSCME, AAP, the Undergrad-Graduate Alliance, the Campus Faculty Association, La Colectiva, and the Lambda Theta Alpha Latin Sorority. UC United demands that the University of Illinois (UI) administration center the priorities of the University of Illinois around access, diversity, democracy, and quality. Specifically, UC United calls for a tuition and fee freeze, an end to layoffs and furloughs of workers and faculty, a democratic campus with shared governance in policy decisions, the recruitment and retention of a diverse campus population of workers, students, and faculty that is truly representative of the State of Illinois, and transparency about the UI budget. The UC United Coalition also calls for progressive state and federal funding for all levels of public education.

The Graduate Employees’ Organization, AFT/IFT Local 6300, AFL-CIO, The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, represents approximately 2700 Teaching and Graduate Assistants on the UIUC Campus. In November 2009, over 1,000 GEO members successfully went on strike to secure a fair contract and more accessible UIUC. With events like the National Day to Defend Public Education, the GEO continues to work for high quality and accessible public education in Illinois.

For more information, please contact Natalie Uhl, GEO Communications Officer, at 317-652-7298 or natalieuhl@gmail.com.

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