The following is a personal account of Day 5 (Monday, November 7) of the Southern Illinois University Carbondale Faculty strike.
Today was a really amazing day on the SIUC campus. Some undergraduate students organized a rally in solidarity with the Faculty Strike — which has turned into something of an occupation, since the five members of the bargaining team have vowed not to leave the bargaining room until they get a fair contract. The rally began with a march through the student center to the bargaining room, where we delivered sleeping bags, water, and food to the Faculty Association members who decided they weren’t leaving the building. Then the group, which papers have estimated at about 500 students and faculty, marched all around campus. The whole crowd rallied in front of the student center, where an administrator came out and stood before us, telling us we were disturbing classes. Students shouted back that, in fact, it was she and the rest of the administrators that were disturbing classes.
The energy was unlike anything I’ve seen here in four years. Chants ranged from pleas for a fair contract to this one, my favorite: “Chancellor Cheng/ Take a permanent vacation/ we don’t need/ an administration!”
Professors and students that had never showed any interest in labor issues showed up and shouted. People used the human microphone from the Occupy movement in order to speak. And when a student came back to report that the bargaining wasn’t going anywhere, everyone yelled they’d be back tomorrow, same time, same place.
Below is just about a quarter of the people there. Seriously, you would have had this same size crowd in every direction. But you wouldn’t have had me banging on a cafeteria tray with a stick.