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Workers, Community, Students Pull Together

High Tide of Struggle at UIC

by Joe Iosbaker |
October 31, 1998
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Chicago, IL - There has been a high tide of conflict at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC). In January, two Saturdays were spent in hearings on campus before Black and Latino state legislators. Called by the Illinois Legislative Black Caucus, the hearings resulted in a 67-page report, released finally in late August. It details the many demands by the forces that are fighting the administration: union workers, oppressed nationality students, faculty and staff, and the residents of the surrounding communities, mostly Mexicano and African American.

The report singles out the medical school and supports the demands of protesting medical students. A record number of Blacks and Latinos have been dropped in recent years for academic failures. "The attrition rate is so high due to the disparity of treatment and a hostile environment," said Linda Ollins, chair of the U of I Nine, medical students fighting UIC's institutional racism. "They think we should be satisfied to have had the opportunity to attempt to become a physician. I don't think they intend to graduate us all."

Also prominent in the report is the Latino community. The Pilsen neighborhood, just south of campus, is home to several generations of Mexicanos. Many are recent immigrants. UIC is partners with a group of developers that plan to gentrify Pilsen. $445 million of development money is at stake in a housing development for upper income and rich people. The community has fought fiercely to hold onto their homes. A terrible loss for the people was suffered when State Senator Jesus ("Chuy") Garcia was defeated in March. He was targeted because he had played a leading role in standing up to the developers and their partners, the UIC administration and Mayor Daley.

Now students are organizing to demand that UIC comply with the recommendations of the Black Caucus. Workers in Local 73 SEIU and community residents continue their fights for their fair share, as well.