File spoon-archives/marxism-international.archive/marxism-international_1997/marxism-international.9710, message 155

Date: Thu, 9 Oct 1997 08:49:03 -0500 (CDT)
Subject: M-I: An activist grad union at the U. of Illinois

GEO and SRD demand right to democracy

By Jerry Abejo
Daily Illini reporter

A crowd of about 70 people gathered outside the Illini Union
Wednesday to protest what they termed the Board of TrusteesU lack
of respect for student democracy.

Multicolored balloons andposters printed with such
slogans as "Need money? Stop busting unions!"
were scattered throughout the rally, sponsored by the
Graduate EmployeesU Organization (GEO) and
Students for Real Democracy (SRD).

Complete with a New Orleans Jazz band,
bullhorns, and lots of shouting, the rally
organizers worked to spark student concern
shouting such chants as: "Hey, hey, B-O-T, how
Tbout some democracy!" and "No justice, No

"This rally is about protesting the BOTUs
refusal to recognize our democratic rights," said
Buri Banerjee, co-president of GEO and
graduate student.

Three speakers spoke briefly at the rally; Laura Appenzeller,
President of Illinois Student Government, Jackson Potter of SRD,
and Banerjee.

In her speech, Banerjee spoke about graduate employeesU concerns.

Potter spoke next about students struggle for an equal voice on the
BOT. He said many students were morally outraged with the
UniversityUs contract with Nike. Nike is accused of producing its
goods in sweatshops.

"We are all students for democracy," said Potter, "We wonUt accept
their (the BOTUs) fake, generic version of democracy."

After the rally, the riled-up crowd marched into the Pine Room of
the Illini Union where the BOT meeting was being held. According
to Dennis Grammenos, treasurer of GEO and graduate employee, this
allowed the GEO to voice their opinions, even though the BOT
rejected GEOUs application to speak at this meeting.

As for the impact of this rally, Appenzeller said that she hopes the
rally brings some bad publicity to the BOT, citing the heavy media
coverage of the rally.

Potter said the rally sets a precedent, letting the BOT know that
students will continue to fight.

"WeUve already opened the door and weUre waiting for a response
(from the BOT)," said Potter. "If not, weUll have to proceed with our
own ideas."


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