Pro-union students are not pawns: An open letter to the SIU community
In multiple e-mails sent to students, student workers and graduate students on October 7, Chancellor Rita Cheng repeated two important falsehoods (among many other half-truths):
1) Pro-union students are essentially being used as pawns by faculty and other campus workers.
2) Students are not (and should not be) involved in the labor situation at SIUC.
By calling us pawns, Cheng has insulted every student at SIUC by asserting that we do not have the ability to think for ourselves, make our own decisions, and on our own come to the conclusion that campus unions deserve our support.
What Rita Cheng seems unable to understand is that education is not merely a commodity and students are not merely consumers.
By supporting the instructors and campus workers we are supporting our own personal interests—to insure that the quality of education at SIU is not undermined.
Many of us come from working-class families and know that many of the rights and resources we have enjoyed came from people organizing and defending unions.
We have not been threatened or coerced in any way by our instructors—contrary to the Chancellor’s repeated assertions—however the tone of Rita Cheng’s almost daily e-mails seem increasingly threatening.
As a group of students we came together independently to counter administration propaganda and organize solidarity with our instructors and campus workers. We copied and handed out factsheets and have called for a student demonstration. We did this of our own accord—regardless of what the Chancellor might say.
It is not the unions that have potentially forced us to choose between “participating in a strike” and our “continuing work/education,” it is the Chancellor’s hard-line position.
Her commitment to bring in scabs to teach courses in the event of a strike shows the contempt she has for both our teachers and for the quality of our education.
Cheng’s pleas of poverty are belied by official university reports that show SIU had surplus revenue in both FY 2009 and FY 2010.
All we can conclude is that our Chancellor sees our university as first and foremost a matter of profit mongering.
It is, in no small part, up to us as students to take a stand against the administration’s attempt to remake SIU into a for-profit corporate entity.
Join us on Wednesday, October 12 at 4:30pm outside Anthony Hall to peacefully protest the administration’s attack on our teachers, our fellow students, on campus workers, and on the quality and value of our education.
SIU Students Against University Cuts
[The original email forwarded to me was sent from the following address: firstname.lastname@example.org. Comments meant to reach the authors should presumably be sent to that address.]