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Students occupy conference room to protest tuition hikes

Published: Thursday, March 1, 2012

Updated: Monday, August 27, 2012 16:08

Occupy DePaul

Jeremy Mikula

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.

Around 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 2.5 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. 

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.

Note: DePaul University released a statement Friday around 9:30 a.m.

A group of about 15 DePaul students and 25 non-students came to the DePaul's administrative offices late Thursday afternoon and asked for a meeting with the president to discuss tuition. The group was led to a conference room (not the president's office), where the president met with them for 30 minutes. He listened to their concerns and agreed to a future meeting to discuss it further, if they chose to meet again.

The 15 students indicated that they intended to stay in the conference room and the university agreed to allow them to stay after the offices closed. The non-students, however, were asked to leave for security reasons because DePaul's administrative offices are located in a private building that requires tenant IDs to enter. They were escorted out at about 6:30 p.m. The DePaul students remained in the conference room until about 8:30 p.m. at which point they decided as a group to leave.

DePaul's tuition rates will be set in early March. The rate proposed for continuing students is an increase of 2.5 percent, which is roughly equal to inflation.

DePaul's student government president was one of the seven members of the faculty-staff-student committee that worked with the administration on the current proposed budget, which includes this tuition rate proposal. Throughout the fall, the committee held regular meetings about the budget that were open for students to attend and comment.

Much of the additional revenue raised by the tuition increase will be earmarked for institutional financial aid, which is proposed to total about $168 million in 2012-13, an 11.5 percent increase over the previous year. This allows DePaul to further its mission of providing education to students of modest financial means

The university strives to keep tuition affordable through its budgeting process, allocation of institutional resources in support of scholarships and fundraising. Raising money for scholarships is the top priority of the current fundraising campaign.

Like many institutions, DePaul University is facing increases in the costs of serving our students. DePaul makes prudent use of tuition dollars by continually investing to enrich academic quality and provide the best educational opportunities for students as possible. These investments increase the value of a DePaul degree and ensure that the university remains competitive.  

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