UPDATED: Fourteen DePaul University students have staged a campus occupation against the university's tuition policy -- the first occupation at a US Catholic university this year.
The following statement was delivered by the members of #OccupyDePaul and the Coalition Against Corporate Higher Education earlier today (3/2/2012):
"We are holding this conference not on property that belongs to all DePaul students, but instead on the public sidewalk, the only place we've been told our presence will be allowed, despite this being our school.
This morning, the DePaul Board of Trustees picked up the Student Government Association President, Anthony Alfano, in a university vehicle. After refusing to tell him where they were taking him, they drove him to a parking garage and brought him up to the trustees meeting through the back door. In an act of solidarity with those silenced by this maneuver, Anthony texted us updates of his situation. They still have not told him where he is.
At the last minute, in response to student mobilization last night, the Board of Trustees and administration has moved this vital meeting to an undisclosed location, and resorted to the secretive transport and restriction of communication with our appointed representative. They have threatened severe disciplinary action, arrest, and police involvement in an attempt to restrict our voice regarding those decisions that affect our education, our lives, and our future. In the face of the undemocratic actions taken by the Board of Trustees; we demand the following, unequivocally:
1. Justice, in the form of a tuition freeze, effective immediately.
2. Democracy, in the form of a public forum fully open to students, faculty and administration alike, on Friday, March 9 at 5:00 p.m., to discuss the tuition hike decision and any such future decisions affecting the cost of tuition.
The entire system of corporate higher education, has repeatedly lied to us, betrayed us, run from us, and condemned us to a lifetime of debt in order to line their pockets. Today we say no more."
Students Occupying DePaul University to Stop Tuition Hikefrom Thursday: Students occupy De Paul University conference room to protest tuition hikes
March 3, 2012 in Access, Campus Protests, Governance, Student Government, Student Power, Students, The Corporate University, Tuition and Fees
Fourteen DePaul University students have staged a campus occupation against the university’s tuition policy — the first occupation at a US Catholic university this year.
On Thursday evening, students and allies staged an action in DePaul’s administrative offices as a part of the March 1 national day of student action. They met briefly with the university president, who rejected their tuition freeze demands. Non-students were escorted out of the conference room by police at 6:30 pm, and the remaining students left voluntarily two hours later.
Last night a group of students reconvened at the university’s student center in advance of a scheduled trustee vote on a tuition increase this morning. As the deadline for the building’s closing passed, fourteen students decided to remain in occupation. Supporters raised a tent outside the building, and made plans for a 7:30 am demonstration. In an overnight statement, the occupiers declared that the university’s tuition has increased by 35% in the last seven years, and that the average DePaul graduate now leaves with a $28,000 debt load.
The DePaul activists have been blogging at the site of CACHE, a multi-university Chicago activist coalition. Updates on the occupation are being live tweeted at the #occupydepaul hashtag.
8:30 am (Chicago Time) Update | With the trustee meeting scheduled to begin at the top of the hour (9 am Chicago time), students have learned that the meeting is being moved to a new, secret location.
Noon Update | From the Occupy Chicago Facebook page:
The DePaul administration was scheduled to meet this morning to vote on the tuition hike at the Lincoln Park campus. At the last minute, the meeting was moved to an undisclosed location. Anthony Alfano, President of the Student Government Association, accepted an invitation to the meeting. He was driven downtown by administrators, who made him enter through the back door of a high-rise and refuse[d] to reveal his location to him.
This is utterly astonishing, if true: Not only did the DePaul board of trustees move their meeting to an undisclosed off-campus location, but they refused to tell the students’ elected representative, whom they invited to the meeting, where that meeting was being held. It’s like something out of a bad movie.
Occupy DePaul has scheduled a news conference for 12:30 local time. I’ll update with any new info I receive.
12:30 Update | I’ve added DePaul to the site’s map of 2011-12 campus occupations. It’s the 38th occupation so far this academic year, the fourth in Illinois, and — as noted above — the first at a Catholic college.
Students and Occupy Chicago members protest outside of 55 E. Jackson Blvd. on Thursday, March 1, 2012. The protesters are demaning that a proposed tuition increase be withheld until there is an open forum on the issue. Photo by Jeremy MikulaAround 15 to 20 students occupied a conference room Thursday night on the 22nd floor of 55 E. Jackson Blvd., to protest the university's proposed tuition hike.
DePaul will raise tuition for incoming freshman 5 percent and 2.2 percent for current students. The students who participated in the sit-in, which began around 5 p.m., demand that voting on the tuition increases be stalled until the university held a public forum. Voting for the tuition increase will occur March 3.
At 3 p.m. around 50 students marched to the office of University President Rev. Dennis H. Holtschneider, C.M., and joined him in a conference room to discuss the tuition increase, according to DePaul student and participant Ashley Bohrer, a second year graduate student in philosophy. Holtschneider has the power to veto this measure at the March 3 meeting.
According to Bohrer, sometime during the meeting with Holtschneider, the Chicago Police were called and at 6 p.m. all non-DePaul students were told to leave or face arrest.
At 6:45 p.m. DePaul students Michelle Havier, freshman, and Amanda Walsh, junior, attempted to join the 15-20 remaining students who occupied the conference room. They said police told them to leave or they would face arrest and interdisciplinary action.
"Occupy DePaul," the name provided to this group of students, will hold a rally Friday at 10 p.m. outside the Lincoln Park campus student center.
A group of DePaul students protested at the school's administrative offices Thursday night to protest a tuition increase. The students want a tuition freeze and an additional public meeting before Saturday when the 2.5 percent increase for continuing students is expected to be approved.