IU on Strike activists have been preparing for this week for months.
The group, which prides itself on a lack of leadership hierarchy, is planning a campus-wide strike Thursday and Friday that will include students, faculty and staff.
Participants in the strike said they are hoping their actions will raise awareness of their demands.
“For me, the strike is a lot more about calling attention to these demands and letting the administration know we’re not OK with this...than a dialogue with the administration about how exactly they should go about doing these things,” IU on Strike representative Kelly Thomas said.
Here is a list of IU on Strike’s demands and administrative reaction.
Immediately reduce tuition and eliminate fees
Tuition is set by the state every two years when the Indiana General Assembly allocates funding to public universities. Once the budget is passed, President Michael McRobbie makes a tuition recommendation to the Board of Trustees and the Board sets tuition.
IU on Strike representative Karissa McKelvey said she feels that presenting their concerns to campus administrators and the Board of Trustees is also a chance for IU on Strike to influence state legislators. She said she feels the administrators themselves are partially responsible for tuition hikes.
“If you think about it, the state does cut funding, but the administrators have choices on how they’re going to make that up,” McKelvey said.
Stop privatization and outsourcing
IU’s mission is to provide an education for students, not necessarily to operate certain services, Trustee William Strong said in an interview with The Herald-Times.
Strong said IU trustees are investigating possibilities for “public-private partnership” such as outsourcing parking operations. This is based on an initiative adopted by Ohio State University, which earned almost $500 million in revenue after leasing university parking spaces to a private company.
The revenue from privatizing parking or textbook sales would go to the University, and in theory could lower tuition. However, McKelvey said the total cost of attendance would increase because for-profit businesses, such as Barnes and Noble — which runs the IU Bookstore — would charge more than campus services would.
End the wage freeze
McKelvey said wages are rising below the rate of inflation, which decreases the spending power of faculty and staff at IU.
“The administration doesn’t call it a wage freeze, but in reality it acts like one,” she said.
State budget cuts in 2009-10 led to a wage freeze at IU for that school year. In conjunction with other cuts, this wage freeze allowed administrators to increase financial aid by almost $20 million, prevented layoffs and allowed for the hiring of 129 additional faculty, according to McRobbie’s 2009 budget plan.
Vice President of University Communications Mark Land said state funding and, by extension, the IU budget is a legislative issue and is too complex to be solved at the campus level.
The University must honor its promise to double the enrollment of minority students to 8 percent
In May 2006, trustees pledged to double the enrollment of minority students by 2013.
In 2006, minority students made up 10.2 percent of campus. They now make up 14.4 percent of campus. Since 1975, the number of African-American students has fluctuated around 4 percent.
Thomas said IU on Strike included this demand to express solidarity for student groups advocating for diversity on IU’s campus.
Land said he did not want to speculate on exact numbers at this time. He said the University has recently dedicated more money to programs to attract minority students to campus.
Abolish both HB1402 and SB590
House Bill 1402 and Senate Bill 590 prohibit universities from granting residential tuition to undocumented immigrants.
Thomas said the protesters recognize this as a state issue rather than a campus issue. She said this demand was included intentionally to show that they recognize issues such as tuition costs and immigration policy as statewide and sometimes nationwide problems.
Administrators agree that HB1402 and SB590 are state issues that cannot be solved at the University level.
No retaliation for participating in or organizing the strike
Land said the administration will respect protesters’ rights to express their opinions.
“As long as everyone is protesting peacefully, there’s going to be no issue,” Land said. “That kind of debate on a college campus is part of what the experience is all about.”
Indiana Law states that public employees are not permitted to strike. Faculty and staff at IU are considered public employees because they work for a state university and could suffer penalties for participating in the strike.
Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences Larry Singell sent an email to faculty and staff members that stated that according to University policy, they are not allowed to use IU’s email services to promote the student strike. He later rescinded the statement.
Acting Chief of IU Police Department Laury Flint said IUPD has planned for the strike and are prepared to ensure the safety of the protesters as well as the faculty, staff and students who are not involved.