Today was the first day of the IU-system wide strike. At 7 am, 40 people initiated the open occupation of Woodburn Hall, setting up information tables and a hub for picket coordination. For the next three hours, a total of 15 picket teams checked in, and were sent across campus to spread the strike – to dorms, workplaces, the major academic buildings, cafeterias, and bus stops.
Breakfast was served at 9 am, eventually to 200 people. By this time, teach-ins organized by undergrads, grad students and faculty were starting in Woodburn and other academic buildings, and people were beginning to gather for the strike demo. At 10:45, more than 300 people left the starting point, snaking across campus. At the height of the march, 100 more people had joined, allowing us to take over 10th street as we returned toward Woodburn. A break was taken for lunch, during which a statement of solidarity was read from Indiana prisoners, which also included a call for support against repression in the Wabash Valley Secure Housing Unit.
After the break, a group of 150 left to protest the Trustees meeting, being held behind closed doors at Franklin Hall. Eventually, small numbers of people were allowed into the meetings, in groups of five, but only to passively watch the bureaucrats at work. As a result, the vast majority of the protesters remained outside, chanting, sharing stories of debt, and making noise. The university locked students out of the Board of Trustees meeting, a meeting traditionally open to the public.
Afterwards, we regrouped at Woodburn, convening an assembly to discuss our strategy and fanning out to participate in the teach-ins. During the assembly, a tweet was sent out, inviting folks to join us at the strike hub for games, dancing, discussion, and occupation of the space. During the meeting, police arrived and informed those assembled that they would be evicted from Woodburn Hall at 11:00. The general assembly extended until 10:30, with working groups immediately following. At 10:50, 26 cops arrived and forced strikers out of the building under threat of arrest. IUPD created a chaotic situation where there was none, bullying participants as they gathered their belongings. IUPD violently removed people, pushing and shoving them through the doorway. After everyone had been evicted from the building, IUPD forced their way into the middle of the crowd and arrested one individual for reasons unknown to us. This person has since been released from custody.
Despite the police provocation, hundreds of people participated in the movement for the first time. Many more waved at us out of dorm and classroom windows, while many support staff came out of their workplaces to cheer. Many academic buildings were half-abandoned. Solidarity actions were also reported at University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and the University of Michigan, while statements were received from many more schools across the country. We therefore feel confident declaring the first day of the strike a success. Not only did we make it clear to the Trustees that the political costs for cutting public education have gone up, but we are laying the groundwork for the sustained mass movement and disruption necessary to turn the university around.
See you Friday, bright and early.
-Media Working Group
The court date for the one arrestee is at 1:30 today at the Monroe County Court House (7th and College). Please consider coming to show your support, especially if you weren’t already planning to attend other events this afternoon.