Though Indiana University's March Madness is over, a generation of gutting and restructuring has left Hoosier country on its feet. This Thursday and Friday, the university will be the site of a statewide strike. As the Board of Trustees holds its annual meeting, many students and staff are expected to walk out of class and off the job.
As one poster states:
The goal is to contest the administration's efforts to make IU a more exclusive, costly institution, at the expense of students and staff. We have already forced the administration to acknowledge these issues, but through collective action, we want to push further so that we can imagine together a different future for IU.
In addition to a 45 percent increase in tuition and fees over the past six years, the strikers cite issues of diversity and racism:
Recent cuts at IU have disproportionately targeted international students and students of color, college education has been eliminated from Indiana prisons, and immigration laws have been implemented that make an IU education cost-prohibitive for undocumented Indiana students.
Rather than organizing solely around affordability, students list a slate of demands:
1. Immediately reduce tuition and eliminate fees.
2. Stop privatization and outsourcing at IU.
3. End the wage freeze [i.e., stagnant wages for faculty and staff].
4. The university must honor its promise to double the enrollment of African-American students to 8%.
5. Support the abolition of both HB1402 [which prevents undocumented students from receiving in-state tuition] and SB590 [an immigration law enforcement bill styled after Arizona's SB 1070].
These demands are obviously not exhaustive—there’s no way to concisely communicate all the things that need to change at IU. These demands are a starting point, a spark to foster discussion and encourage action. These demands are made not just of the Board of Trustees, but of the entire state bureaucracy that the Board is a part of.
Campus activists have spent six months organizing the strike. "We're trying to encourage a culture of resistance, where different people who are involved in the struggle can organize on their own," a student organizer, who asked to remain anonymous, told The Nation. While there are regular general assemblies for strikers and supporters, many participants "go back to plan things on their own basis."
Public sector workers in Indiana aren't legally allowed to strike, and according to the university, faculty are prohibited from using “faculty LISTSERVs and emails to promote organization around the proposed student strike.” (It also remains to be seen just how much support the strike has in the student body generally.) On Monday, strikers held a noise demo landing at the provost's office, where they called for the university not to retaliate against non-student strikers. Meanwhile, more than 100 faculty have signed a petition in solidarity with striking students—and calling for the university not to punish them for walking out.
The strike will be accompanied by a number of actions, as well as "Free University Days" organized by graduate students and instructors.
Not in Indiana? The strikers are asking students and allies from across the country to write letters of support to the Indiana Daily Student at firstname.lastname@example.org.