Occidental students protest the university’s broken promises on sexual assault policy. (The Occidental Weekly/Chris Ellis)
1. Chicago Students Refuse to Be Shut Down
For nearly ten years, Chicago Public Schools has been closing neighborhood schools, turning them around, phasing them out or selling them to private companies. Students and parents have stood up to these policies by holding rallies, shutting down CPS board meetings and doing sit-ins. When CPS announced the decision to phase out my high school, we exposed how Dyett was sabotaged by the district. Over thirty of my classmates and I filed Title VI civil rights complaints against the district. Since then, students, parents, teachers and community members have connected with other cities. We did a “Journey for Justice” ride to DC, where we marched to the Department of Education and demanded that our civil rights stop being violated. Students realized that this wasn’t just local, but nationwide, so we visited other cities and listened to their stories, thus building a stronger base. This spring, all those students came together again in DC and gave testimonies. Though CPS now has 129 schools on the chopping block, for us, the fight has just begun.
2. Who Does UChicago Serve?
On January 27, a peaceful sit-in protesting the lack of trauma services in a yet-to-be opened hospital building on the University of Chicago Medicine campus was violently broken up by university police. Three protesters were arrested for trespassing, and one protester, a black PhD student, was charged with resisting arrest despite much evidence to the contrary. After a vigil condemning the police’s behavior—and a university proposal to hold a dialogue without an administrative presence—protesters delivered two petitions to President Zimmer, demanding greater transparency and meaningful conversation with decision makers on the trauma care issue. Following a letter of support signed by 158 faculty members and nineteen student groups, the university was forced to drop the most serious charges against the protesters. However, evidence revealing an undercover university police officer posing as a protester eroded any remaining community trust in the University. Going forward, Fearless Leading by the Youth and their university allies, Students for Health Equity, will continue holding the University accountable to its professed values of free speech and community inclusion.
—Students for Health Equity