Archive for November, 2009

As many of you know, members of SDS at the University of Minnesota are facing student conduct code charges for dropping banners at freshman convocation on September 3rd of 2009. These charges include theft, disorderly conduct, misuse of university facilities, and unauthorized access of a university building. What is more, we were charged without proof or evidence from the university that any particular individuals were involved.

Individuals still enrolled at the U of M were obligated to go to individual interviews with the Office of Student Conduct and Academic Integrity (OSCAI). After the first couple of meetings it was clear to us that the university was employing scare tactics as a way to dismantle the group and “rat” each other out. The OSCAI interviewers claimed that suspension, expulsion, and a revocation of degrees would be possible, and one member did in fact note that the interviewer questioned their ability to graduate.

An outpouring of support for SDS came into the inboxes and voicemails of all the individuals in charge of the reprimands our chapter now faces. Students from across the country called in, alumni spouted their disapproval, faculty, graduate students, staff, grassroots organizations all demanded that university drop their outrageous charges against SDS at the U of M. A warm thank you goes out to all who took the time to stand up for free speech and a right to dissent on our campuses!

Victoriously, the university did drop the charges filed against the five students who have already had their meetings. We can only assume that this decision was prompted by the support rallied around SDS. This, unfortunately, is only a partial victory as four SDS members are still currently facing charges.

Jerry Reinhart, Vice Provost of Student and Academic Affairs, recently announced in the MN Daily paper that SDS members were NOT facing potential expulsion or suspension and in an editorial he wrote, insinuated that SDS and the press were lying about the charges we were told we might face. Not only is this denying what the OSCAI clearly has stated in former meetings but it is also slandering a student group as well as a MN Daily reporter. Reinhart’s public rebuttal indicates that either there is a severe lack of communication between the OSCAI and the administration OR that Reinhart is attempting to clear the university from pressing the charges originally threatened by the OSCAI.

The four SDS members currently awaiting their interviews have decided to have legal representatives present at the undemocratic meetings the university decides to hold. Moreover, we are demanding that we be granted a joint meeting rather than requiring those still facing charges to meet with OSCIA individually, as these meetings have shown to be a strategy to separate and divide our organization. We are also demanding the presence of Jerry Reinhart at the meeting, as we believe it to be a positive step forward for the university bodies to get their stories straight on what exactly our potential charges are.

We will keep folks updated as things happen and another warm thank you for all the solidarity and support we have received.
Resistance and Struggle,
Students for a democratic Society at the University of Minnesota


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URBANA-CHAMPAIGN (November 17): On Tuesday, November 17, at 8 am, the Graduate Employees’ Organization (GEO), AFT/IFT Local 6300, AFL-CIO, The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC), will continue its strike against the Board of Trustees of the University of Illinois.  All buildings previously picketed by the GEO will continue to be designated as “struck” buildings.

On Monday, November 16, at least 1,000 GEO members and their allies picketed four major classroom buildings on the UIUC Liberal Arts and Sciences quad.  Up to 700 GEO members and allies were present on picket lines at any given time.  Hundreds of teaching sections and classes were suspended, while major classroom buildings including the English Building were completely shut down.

The GEO Strike Committee called a strike after months of stalled negotiations.  While the GEO and the UIUC administration agreed in principle on most elements of a contract in a bargaining session on November 14, the administration refused to provide sufficient protection for most tuition waivers in the GEO bargaining unit.  The administration’s offer provided only some protection for in-state tuition waivers, even though the majority of the GEO bargaining unit receives out-of-state waivers.

Tuition waivers are a traditional and necessary condition of employment that allows students to earn a degree without incurring extreme debt. By helping to ensure affordable access to higher education for all, tuition waivers are also central to the public, land grant mission of the University of Illinois. Waivers also play a vital role in attracting top students to the University’s graduate programs. At the same time, they provide the University with high quality, cheap instructional labor.  Graduate employees teach 23.1% of all undergraduate course hours at UIUC, yet assistant salaries represent less than 6.5% of the University’s state funding. As a comparison, faculty salaries account for over 55% of state funding.

Tuition waivers have been one of the four “pillars” of the GEO’s contract platform since negotiations began on April 21st, 2009.  The GEO believes that the administration’s reluctance to include sufficient protection for all tuition waivers, both in-state and out of state, stems from a desire to phase out the provision of full tuition waivers in some or all University departments.  Cary Nelson, UIUC Professor of English and President of the American Association of University Professors, issued this statement in support of the GEO strike: “Given that the administration had already eliminated them for research assistants in the sciences, there was good reason to fear administration interest in cherry picking humanities or social science sub-disciplines for similar treatment… once again an activist union is working to keep higher education’s core values in place.”

The GEO and UIUC administration bargaining teams will meet Tuesday, 11/17 at 9 am in the UIUC Levis Faculty Center for further contract negotiations.  The GEO is hopeful that the administration will agree to language guaranteeing tuition waiver security, an issue that represents no increased cost to the University.  The University’s public statements in support of tuition waivers are misleading, as they are not reflective of the administration’s position in the bargaining room.  The GEO hopes that the University’s stance in the bargaining room on Tuesday will be more in line with its public statements.

Finally, the GEO would like to alert members of the UIUC campus to misinformation being spread by the University administration about what constitutes crossing a picket line. In the Chronicle of Higher Education on November 16, University Spokeswoman Robin Kaler said that the administration has encouraged GEO members to hold classes away from picketed buildings, and has assured members that this is not in violation of a strike.  This statement is extremely misleading, as the GEO’s public position and its position to membership has always been that only a total work stoppage, that is, cessation of all labor pertaining to a graduate employees’ teaching or graduate assistantship, constitutes participation in a strike by GEO members.  The GEO calls upon the University administration to stop spreading misinformation about the strike to graduate employees.

The GEO is a labor union representing all teaching and graduate assistants (TAs and GAs) on the UIUC campus.  With over 2600 GEO members, and over 2600 graduate employees represented in the bargaining unit, the GEO is one of the largest higher education union locals in the United States.  The GEO strike is the first strike by a recognized union local at UIUC in over 10 years.

FOR MORE INFORMATION, CONTACT: Peter Campbell, GEO Communications Officer, odell.campbell@gmail.com, 253-222-5861, or the GEO office at geo@uigeo.org, 217-344-8283, 1001 S. Wright Street, Champaign, IL, 61820.  Information about the GEO can also be found on our website at www.uigeo.org.


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SUSPEND OVERPAID ADMINISTRATORS, NOT STUDENTS: Call to support the members of SDS at the University of Minnesota

Because of our action at Convocation ’09 we are now facing individual charges up to suspension and revocation of our degrees. We ask for all of our supporters, all supporters of free speech on our campuses, and all those that support the right to education to call and tell the University of Minnesota that SDS members should not face disciplinary charges for our actions at Convocation.

The Office of Student Affairs is threatening all members of SDS saying we are responsible for stealing the banners used in the action, improperly using the space, and that we were disruptive to a closed university function. We question all of these claims. First off the banners that we used were found, and were clearly NEVER going to be used by the university – they articulated outdated goals & campaigns and outdated fashion!

Secondly, we believe that the building and event that we interrupted was in need of some perspective. The event is traditionally meant as a rallying point to make incoming students blind to the excesses of the university administration. Our banner drop highlighted to students for only a few minutes the hypocrisy of an administration that is raising tuition while receiving free housing and enormous salaries.


Office of Student Affairs Provost of Student Affairs Jerry Reinhart g-rine@umn.edu 612-626-1242

Sharon K Dzik sdzik@umn.edu 612-624-6073

President Robert Bruininks bruin001@umn.edu 612-626-1616

Bellow you will find links to the media about the action and our formal appeal letter:




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