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Corpo-Rat Take Over at U of Illinois

by Ben Breyer |
October 31, 1998
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Urbana, IL - Beasts lurk within the halls of our universities. They kidnap professors, raise tuition and exploit public tax dollars. The destructive monster that plagues our universities is corporate influence.

NIKE is the most visible corporation at the University of Illinois Urbana (U of I). The U of I has a deal with Nike where all the athletes must wear the NIKE corporate logo on their uniforms. NIKE gets to promote and sell their products through the U of I while the college helps cover up NIKE's sweatshops in Asia, where workers make wages below the poverty level!

The U of I cut a deal with NIKE for "free shoes" for the sports teams, but nothing comes free. Asian workers are forced to slave in factories where their lungs are threatened by toxic fumes. NIKE gets away with it because Governments are paid off by big corporations or are begging for investment.

Since the early 80s, federal and state politicians have slashed education funding while investing in more prisons and more weapons. Corporations come in to fill the universities' cash vacuum. Big business will gladly donate money for new buildings, laboratories, professorships, and research. In return, they get cheap labor and cutting-edge technology to develop their products, huge tax breaks, and research results slanted in their favor.

A university's pursuit of corporate funding compromises their primary purpose: to educate students. Universities direct funds away from teaching to build research facilities and lure in corporate dollars. In the long run, schools spend far more than they get back - tuition goes up and students pay more. Professors are forced to research more and teach less. Graduate students, who are underpaid and overworked, are now the main teaching work force instead of professors. Some lectures have hundreds of students while a discussion class may have fifty or more. There are fewer people in the audience of the Jerry Springer Show! U of I administrators claim that corporate money keeps tuition lower, but they don't say why tuition goes up at double and triple the rate of inflation every year.

Raising tuition limits the chances for working class, especially low-income students. College is out of reach because of costs, not brains. While middle class students can afford a public university and the rich go to private colleges, working class kids are forced into community colleges or into low-pay service jobs.

The government must be forced to acknowledge the importance of a low-cost, quality education and invest in America's schools. Schools must cut their corporate ties or they will continue to rob students of a sound, accessible education. A strong, united student movement can change the way students learn and open up the doors to U.S. colleges.