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U of MN students and workers protest demand “chop from the top”

By staff |
March 15, 2013
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Student march for education rights.
Student march for education rights. (Fight Back! News/Staff)

Minneapolis, MN – About 40 students and campus workers rallied at Morrill Hall and marched through the University of Minnesota (U of M) campus on March 14 to protest rising tuition costs and the university’s top-heavy administration. The protest was part of a national day of action for education rights.

The U of M administration has come under fire recently for having too many highly-paid top level administrators and too few front line workers and for raising tuition year after year. The unions at the U of M have made these points repeatedly for years. In December, a Wall Street Journal investigative reporter caught on to the story and wrote an in-depth expose on high-level administrative bloat at the U of M, which happened amidst a decade of skyrocketing tuition and layoffs of front line workers. This threw the administration into a tailspin as the Minnesota state legislature held hearings to question President Kaler about it. Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton made the university’s funding appropriation in the new budget contingent on an outside audit of the university administration’s priorities.

In her speech at the protest, Michelle Spivey of Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) said that at the U of M, “There is one administrator for every 3.5 students. On the other hand there is only one faculty member – or one professor – for every 16 students. It is unacceptable to support a bloated administration at the expense of students! Education is a right and students like you and me have had enough!”

The protest was organized by Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) and the U of M clerical worker union, AFSCME Local 3800. The protest was also endorsed by the Women’s Student Activist Collective (WSAC) and La Raza Student Cultural Center.

U of M union leaders spoke at the rally, including Cherrene Horazuk, president of AFSCME Local 3800 and Barb Bezat of AFSCME Local 3937.

Horazuk told rally participants, “We will continue to speak out against administrative excesses and the increasing corporatization of the U. We will continue to fight to ensure that this university is a university for the 99%, not the 1%. We will continue to demand that the U chop from the top.”

Students who spoke included Grace Kelly, representing graduate students, and Katherine Soenke from the Women’s Student Activist Collective.

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