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Occupy DePaul: Students fight back with three days of protests

DePaul says 'tuition hike,' students say 'debt strike'

Published: Monday, March 5, 2012

Updated: Monday, August 27, 2012 16:08

Occupy DePaul

Bartosz Brzezinski

From right to left: Michelle Hauer, Michelle Maxwell, Kristen Gallagher and Stacey Bear rally in front of 55 E. Jackson to protest tuition hikes proposed by the Board of Trustees at DePaul University. Students were told they would be arrested if they tried entering the building.

After learning they could face disciplinary and legal action if they stayed past the 1 a.m. closing time, the group discussed whether to stay the night. Around 12:00 a.m., they asked to speak with Dean of Students Art Munin about the sanctions they could face.

When asked how he feels about the tuition increase, Munin said he sympathized with the students telling them that he also has debt. Munin and the students failed to reach a resolution and the discussion was over at 12:28 a.m.

At 12:54 a.m. students took a vote on whether to stay in the student center or come back at 7:30 a.m. when it reopens. Sixteen voted to stay, including Alfano, 14 voted to leave and there were 7 abstentions.

Occupy DePaul released a statement at 1:09 a.m. on the Coalition Against Corporate Higher Education's Wordpress: "Our actions this evening have occurred within the larger context of the international STUDENT DEBT CRISIS."

Later, Munin and the students did come to a compromise that they could stay on the first floor of the student center.

DAY 3: SATURDAY, MARCH 3

The Board of Trustees meeting was set to begin at 9 a.m. Saturday in the Lincoln Park student center. Occupiers said at 10:08 a.m. that the meeting had been moved to an undisclosed Loop location.

According to tweeting Occupiers, Alfano was picked up by an unmarked university car to be taken to the meeting and arrived at the location through a back door. Student Government Association (SGA) later clarified that the covert means were a safety measure. Alfano tweeted Occupy DePaul and said he was escorted to an undisclosed location.

Alfano later clarified that he learned that the meeting moved locations; he debated whether or not to attend. He thought moving the meeting without telling Occupy DePaul was wrong, but also did not want to jeopardize the students' voice in future discussions with the board. Late Sunday night Alfano and SGA released a statement on Sunday night describing their role as liaisons in the issue.

At 12:30 p.m. Occupy DePaul and Occupy Chicago planned a press conference at 12:30 p.m. outside 55 E. Jackson Blvd. in the Loop.

During the conference, Occupy DePaul students chanted phrases like: "education is right not just for the rich and white," "Education for the masses not just for the ruling class," "they say tuition hike, we say debt strike."

They retold their experiences that they had on previous nights. One protester said, "Last week I sat down with a financial aid advisor who told me upon graduation I would owe $96,000 in debt. This is absurd." Another said, "Maybe we actually know what we want for our futures. Not $30,000 in debt."

At 1:13 p.m. students attempted to enter 55 E. Jackson Blvd. Security at the scene threatened to arrest students who attempt to enter. The press conference ended two minutes later.

It was rumored earlier in the day that Occupy DePaul would occupy the student center again Saturday night, but nothing further occurred after the press conference.

No information was released as to whether or not the SRAC proposal was approved or not approved by the Board of Trustees.

Chief of Staff to Fr. Holtschneider, Jay Braatz, said that DePaul will send out a letter telling students about next year's tuition. Braatz said this year's letter will be released shortly.

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Jeremy Mikula, Bartosz Brzezinski, Jenn Schanz, Elizabeth Schuetz, Katherine Hall and Haley BeMiller contributed to this report.

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