FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
GEO at UIC statement in solidarity with the Standing Rock Sioux Nation.
The University of Illinois at Chicago Graduate Employees Organization (UIC-GEO), IFT/AFT AFL-CIO Local 6297 stands in firm solidarity with the Standing Rock Sioux Nation, and the over 200 other Indigenous Nations, that oppose the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL). It is our firmly held belief that the sovereignty and governance of the Standing Rock Sioux Nation land comes from, and can only be decided by, the people of the Standing Rock Sioux Nation.
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The GEO Steering Committee recently signed in support of the Bluest Lie Campaign, a campaign against the potential introduction of the so-called Blue Lives Matter ordinance to the Chicago City Council. This proposed ordinance would categorize offenses committed against police officers, firefighters, and emergency medical technicians as hate crimes. It distorts the purpose of hate crime legislation and we cannot sit idly by as it is discussed in our city government.
Currently, Illinois uses the hate crime designation to prosecute offenses committed on the basis of “actual or perceived race, color, creed, religion, ancestry, gender, sexual orientation, physical or mental disability, or national origin.” Attacks against police and other first responders are already classified by Illinois law as aggravated assault and therefore carry stricter penalties than assaults against civilians. Police are also protected by their unions and by city and state officials and enjoy protections far above those of regular citizens.
Bills similar to Chicago’s proposed “Blue Lives Matter” ordinance have recently been introduced in states and cities around the country, even though attacks against police are at record lows. These bills constitute a hostile right-wing reaction to the Black Lives Matter movement and to increasing calls for police accountability and racial justice. Nationally, as well as locally, the bills are opposed by a variety of civil rights and social justice organizations, including: Black Youth Project 100, Black Lives Matter Chicago, Assata’s Daughters, American Civil Liberties Union, Uptown People’s Law Center, and the Anti-Defamation League. In Chicago, many of these groups have come together to form the Bluest Lie Collaborative.
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Dear colleagues at UIC,
Our names are Daniel Vergara and Alicia Luque and we are PhD students at UIC. We are writing this post with the hope that we can raise awareness about the significant increase in the International Student Fee that will be applied to us by the Office of International Students (OIS) for the 2015-2016 academic year. So far, international students at UIC have had to pay an amount of $80 per semester for the services that the OIS provides to international students. About two months ago, the OIS sent out an e-mail stating that due to incoming budget cuts, the office is going to raise the international student fee to $130 per semester for a total of $260 per year. Coincidentally, this e-mail was sent before the Dean notified all university staff, faculty and students that budget negotiations were still ongoing and it was not yet clear which official entities at UIC were going to be affected by these budget cuts.
The OIS claims that the increase in the fee is to improve the services provided at their office but they will not provide us with any details as to how this money will be used. $260 a year might not seem much, but as international graduate workers who earn limited wages and are not allowed to work off-campus, we could better use this money to travel to conferences, conduct research, or simply pay rent. As international workers we visit the OIS for visa-related issues, but we don’t believe that those services are sufficient to justify the fee increase. UIC is an institution that takes pride in being diverse and multicultural, and that’s why this fee increase is an embarrassment to the OIS and to what UIC stands for. We came to UIC because it was a diverse institution that cherished and valued international students, but sadly we don’t feel that way anymore. During these past two months, we have been organizing to fight this fee increase but we need YOU. We need your support. Whether or not you are an international worker, this is a clear case of DISCRIMINATION and it should not be ignored. Please show us your support by reposting this, raising awareness, coming to our meetings, or even talking to your international colleagues about the fee increase. This fee needs to STOP!
Our next meeting will be Monday, August 10th at 5 p.m. at the UIC GEO office (815 W. Van Buren, Suite 203). Join us!
Daniel Vergara and Alicia Luque