Thank you to all those who signed the petition below. As a result of your help, GEO’s campaign to uphold the rights of José Herrera was a victory! On August 10, José had a formal meeting with UIC administrators, and all of our demands were met. The University agreed to immediately lift the hold on José’s registration and guarantee his TA assistantship for the Fall semester. José is now officially registered for classes. Also, the University Provost attended the hearing and personally apologized to José for the unjust way he was treated – she agreed to work with the different departments involved to make sure this does not happen again. Our petition– which had over 200 signatures– was delivered to the administration at the meeting. On behalf of the Graduate Employees Organization (GEO), thank you for showing UIC admins that an injury to one is an injury to all.
During academic year 2015-16, Sociology Ph.D. student and migrant justice activist, José Guadalupe Herrera Soto, had to take family health crisis leave outside the US. José diligently followed instructions to formally request his leave, but the University erroneously made an electronic transition into his bank account in September 2015.
Returning to UIC this summer, José was ready to work with the University to correct the overpayment mistake. Instead, the University had already penalized him for not being able to address the matter within a two-week deadline given in 2015 while José was on official family health crisis leave. While on official leave, a “hold” was entered into his student account that now prevents him from registering for his courses – this deliberate attack made by the University against José is now jeopardizing Jose’s TA appointment, status as a student, and academic career.José and the GEO demand the following from UIC:
1. Remove the hold on his student account
2. Allow him to register for his courses
3. A confirmation of his TA appointment for Fall 2016
4. Once these conditions are met, José will be happy to resolve the overpayment error made by the University.
5. Hold a formal accountability hearing about what has happened
6. A formal and written apology from all parties involved in placing a financial hold on José’s student account.
Why is this important?
In an open letter addressed to administrators and payroll [
] José states, “There is a fundamental institutional hypocrisy revealed by this situation. The University pretends to have understanding and to care about students as human beings by creating a mechanism through which we have the right to take emergency leave; but as soon as we leave we become exposed to blackmail from Payroll and Collections. Our so-called “rights” as students are a sham.”
UIC brands itself as a social justice university, an institution that is inclusive of poor students of color and especially those experiencing extreme marginalization. José is one of those students. He was not on some vacation, backpacking through Europe or some other “exotic” destination. He was not somewhere surrounded by computers and convenience. Maybe UIC is out of touch with the realities of people’s lives who do not fit a specific social and economic profile.
This is not about denying that the payment was made in error or wanting to keep the University’s money. This is about whether the University has the right to treat José as though he went into the Payroll office and took out money and now must be coerced to fix that by placing a hold on his registration. It’s about whether the University can deprive him of his status as a student without even giving him a chance to be heard. So far, no one has taken this seriously or tried to work with him to resolve the situation, preferring instead the blackmail approach: pay first, talk later. This is a question of justice, accountability and respect.
Plans for a meeting with administration are underway, please join us on:
Wednesday, August 10.
Time: We will gather at 11am (meeting starts at 11:30am
Where: 809 S. Marshfield
OBFS CONF UIC MAB 614