Rally demands “no tuition hikes”

Activists gathered in Northrop Mall on Thursday to protest the University’s administrative spending.

Protesters march down Washington Avenue following a Chop from the Top rally in Northrop Mall on Thursday.

Ian Larson

Protesters march down Washington Avenue following a Chop from the Top rally in Northrop Mall on Thursday.

by Sadelle Schroeder

As a graduate student working for the University of Minnesota, Jesse Wozniak is paid $14,000 annually. He pays the University $600 of that in student services fees.

These low wages, he said, qualify graduate students for food stamps.

Wozniak spoke Thursday at a rally in support of National Day of Action to Defend Public Education. Students for a Democratic Society and the Chop from the Top Coalition hosted the event, which ended with a march down Washington Avenue from Northrop Mall to McNamara Alumni Center.

To a crowd he described as a âÄúplucky bandâÄù of students, faculty and other concerned individuals, Wozniak reiterated a message of solidarity.

âÄúThis doesnâÄôt just affect grad students, it affects everyone,âÄù he said. âÄúWeâÄôre all in this together.âÄù

Activists across the nation were participating in similar activities throughout the day, said Mary Lou Middleton, Vice President of AFSCME Local 3800, the UniversityâÄôs clerical workers union. She spoke about tuition increases for students, layoffs and unpaid days for faculty and staff.

At the rally, SDS member Tracy Molm encouraged students to stand together for their rights.

âÄúThis is not the end of a struggle, this is just the beginning,âÄù she said. âÄúSolidarity is not a crime.âÄù

Molm was one of four University-affiliated individuals whose homes were raided by the FBI in September.

TJay Middlebrook, a student at Minneapolis Community and Technical College, addressed students gathered for the rally to report that the University is not the only school in Minneapolis to be affected by rising tuition costs and cuts in programs.

âÄúOne of the major conflicts at MCTC is that, in the last two years, the school has made major program cuts because the administration thought the enrollment rate would increase. Turns out that our enrollment only increased by 700 students,âÄù Middlebrook said. âÄúOur staff and faculty members have been cut also because of the [supposed increase in] enrollment. Little did we know that we [MCTC] have $3.5 million left over after all of those cuts.âÄù

Eva von Dassow, an activist with Faculty for the Renewal of Public Education, reminded rally supporters that the University has a âÄúmissionâÄù to advance learning and the search for truth.

She compared education at the University to a vending machine, where students and faculty must give time and money in order to receive the benefits of a higher education.

âÄúWhere is the search for truth?âÄù von Dassow, an associate professor in the Classical and Near Eastern Studies department, asked the crowd. âÄúDoes the vending machine have a button for creativity?âÄù