SDS fights back

Administration has allowed higher education to become unaffordable.

Stephanie Taylor

On Sept. 4th, University of Minnesota Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) dropped banners during University President Bob BruininksâÄô speech at convocation. These banners displayed slogans pointing out only a few of the many contradictions that can be found on our campus in the midst of economic uncertainty. While some members of the University community believed that these tactics were âÄúrudeâÄù or perhaps criminal, SDS does not. To touch on CFACTâÄôs editorials concerning it: We apologize that CFACT is unwilling to take responsibility for their actions. As Vice Provost Jerry Reinhart wrote previously, SDS is facing the same charges you are. SDS has initiated the Campaign to Save Our School (Campaign SOS) on campus and is building unity between student organizations to consolidate a strong voice for progressive demands on our college campus. This campaign was built out of the growing understanding that the routes currently available to students to voice dissenting opinions concerning our University, the UniversityâÄôs administration, and University policies are ineffective means of change. SDS has been to Board of Regents meetings to voice concerns with the way in which the University budget is decided. At these meetings, we have been given a mere three minutes to speak: an insult to students who are paying tens and thousands of dollars to an institution that is not hearing us. A The Minnesota Daily article on Monday, Sept. 28th highlighted the Minnesota Student Association as another route that gives students âÄúpowerâÄù within the University, showing the many things the MSA is working on: a complaint section on the umn.edu Web site, building relationships in neighborhoods and lobbying. The MSA is a body designed by the University to build student power within the University, but they choose to focus on a Web site designed for students to complain about the food at University Dining Services. This is concerning. Undergraduate tuition here has more than doubled in the last decade alone. The General College âÄî a school that served as an intermediate between high school and the College of Liberal Arts for many poor and working-class students âÄî closed its doors. Bruininks has laid off thousands of workers with whom students interact with on a daily basis, like Nancy Wiswell of the School of Music. When administrators and directors are asked to share their thoughts about taking pay cuts they claim that the question is âÄúirrelevantâÄù (âÄúLaid off clerical worker fights back,âÄù Sept. 28). Why is the MSA not tackling relevant issues actually worth fighting for? Currently, the struggle for education rights is a nationwide campaign. Last January, students at New York University occupied a building with a set of demands for more accessible education. Currently, students, faculty and staff at the University of California-Santa Cruz are doing the same. Students in Washington D.C. are walking out of classrooms and Students for a Democratic Society chapters throughout the nation are engaging in multiple retaliation efforts against regressive university budgets. SDS believes that education is a right, a right that should not be exclusive solely to those who can afford it. Students deserve a valuable education that works for them, not for rich administrators at the top with 6-digit compensation packages. We will continue our struggle against any unjust institution that chooses to work in the interest of business and the rich rather than those who want a good education. We invite any and all members of the University and the community to join us in our fight. Stephanie Taylor is a member of the Students for a Democratic Society. Please send comments to [email protected]