VICTORY AT COLUMBIA COLLEGE CHICAGO TOWN HALL

Friday, through unity, we gained ground toward our ultimate demands: we secured scheduling for future Town Halls at Columbia College, the next being tentatively scheduled for January 19th (check back for definite date). This is a RESOUNDING VICTORY. Those who attended the Town Hall meeting at Columbia College represented the growing collective that has “reached the point of disillusionment with past ways and values,” as Saul Alinsky wrote in Rules for Radicals, and our very concerns and grievances attested to the overwhelming crises faced not only by Columbia College Chicago, but by institutions of higher education internationally. We are overjoyed to have secured a space to foster open communication and attempt to bridge the great divide that separates the administration from the students, staff, and faculty of our school.
Students from Columbia aired their concerns and demands alongside students from  institutions around the city. Representatives from P-fac (Part-Time Faculty Association) testified to the struggles of a life without certainty alongside graduate students from across the city who are bound for that same life unless we cultivate a massive social shift. Representatives from USCC (United Staff of Columbia College) stood in solidarity. Members of CACHE (Coalition Against Corporate Higher Education), Occupy Chicago’s Labor Committee, and Occupy Columbia fired up the crowd with their frank criticisms of the college’s prioritization process. Interim Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs Louise Love and Interim Provost for Faculty Affairs Len Strazewski were visibly and understandably overwhelmed.
For every five speakers, Love and Strazewski were only given a few minutes to respond. The concerns, ranging from transparent administrative policy to freezing tuition rates, were far too numerous and complex to address in such a short amount of time. 
But this was the point, was it not? We recognize that higher education has deep rooted issues, and we recognize that finding solutions requires much deliberate thought that leads to sustained action and effort by us all. No change worth creating will happen overnight. Thus, we are ecstatic to find that we now have a loud and clear presence in (Whose school?) OUR SCHOOL. After all, as one of the college’s catch phrases demands (whether seriously or not, we dare not consider for too long): CREATE CHANGE. We would like to offer this addendum to that, however: CREATE CHANGE COLLECTIVELY. Why? Because democracy should not end at the doors of our schools. All real change on this campus MUST be by and from rational, open and continued dialogue between students, staff, and faculty. No administration should be able to make major decisions without consulting, engaging, and including - in an honest and substantive way - these groups. We will, eventually, rally behind the headline “CHANGE CREATED.” We’re well on our way.
Yours,
Brianne Bolin 
Occupy Chicago Education Committee (active member)
Columbia College Chicago (innovative adjunct)


Media Coverage of Town Hall: 

Occupy Columbia protesters granted town hall meeting
"We've decided, we've voted and we're not leaving until we have a set date and time. So you all are welcome to go back and talk to the president, we are going to sit here until we have a time."

 

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