The IU administration is scrambling to respond to the strike organizing spreading across campus. The day after the Board of Trustees cancelled the second half of its meetings, apparently in response to the strike (see the Herald-Times, 4/3/13), the administration sent out a new fear-mongering e-mail in order to try and break the strike’s momentum. They are using their relative monopoly of information to absolutely reverse the truth.
This past Monday, dozens of student protesters went to Provost Robel’s office to show their support for faculty and support staff facing anti-organizing threats made by the administration. As they were walking into her office, her secretary began pushing protesters and blocking the doorway. While we saw demonstrators attempting to duck under her swinging arms, we never saw anyone push her back or retaliate against her aggression. The Provost’s claims of vandalism in an ‘internal office’ are completely unfounded, to our knowledge, and there were several IUPD officers present throughout the encounter - no complaints seem to have been filed at the time.
The Provost’s email is a good indication of how the administration is planning to frame strike-day activities: all repression by the administration will be not about the strike but about “out-of-hand students being violent,” which is nothing but a distraction pre-scripted by the administration. Robel’s assertion that she cannot “pre-emptively excuse undefined behavior,” too, is an attempt to distract from the existing Conditions of Cooperation that IU support staff are subject to, which state “The university will not continue to employ any person who participates in, threatens, or encourages any strike, slowdown, work stoppage, or other interruption or interference with the activities of the university.” (Source)
Also, students involved in the strike movement now are people who have met with both Provost Robel and IUSA President Straub about issues of college affordability and diversity in the build-up toward the strike, and in doing so have ascertained that neither is sincerely prioritizing these issues. In a meeting with students called after the Board of Trustees meeting protest last spring, Robel was explicit about the need for a mass student movement to guarantee the future of accessible higher education, and only last week Straub told strikers that he would consider releasing a statement against repression of the strike. Their claims are not to be trusted.
Much of the support staffs’ pay increases each year are below inflation, and numerous members of the support staff have told us of the hardships they’ve faced over the past four years during which inflation has cut into their stagnant wages. (Source) Robel demonstrates her own lack of credibility with her grossly inaccurate denial of the wage freeze’s existence.* (Source) These slow pay cuts via inflation are a form of violence, as is the whisper campaign of threats against workers’ job security when they organize. When Robel’s secretary pushed and shoved us, that was also a mild form of violence, even though we didn’t feel a need to highlight her actions, because to do so distracts from the real issues. When we went to the Provost’s office it was a response to the intimidation already meted to support staff, and we were willing to accept her secretary’s shoving as a small consequence for the stand we are taking.
The strike goes on April 11-12, despite the smears of the administration.
- IU on Strike Organizing Assembly
*(Board of Trustees President “Theobald listed 13 steps IU has taken to reduce operating costs, including cost benchmarking, health care cost containment, consolidated purchasing savings, the closure of the university-wide School of Continuing Studies, early retirement incentives and the first employee pay freeze since the 1930s.” H-T 12/8/12 See also: http://www.idsnews.com/news/story.aspx?id=75841)
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