Students of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and locals gathered together to rally and present a list of demands to the administration of the school on October 24th. They were titled the Demands for a Transformed University. The list of Demands covers a variety of issues such as: tuition hikes, to penalties for sexual violence, the relationship between the university and the surround black community of Urbana-Champaign, tracking of gender andsexuality based demographics, and several more. TheDemands were compiled from the collaboration of over twenty local organizations.
The university has not directly responded to the Demands wince the rally took place over a month ago. “There has been a lot of posturing by the University,” said Sunny True,a member of the Black Students for Revolution organization. “We see how they try to grasp and steal control away from student-organized events, and student-
organized panels. Like this most recent Freedom Forum that just took place where they try to overstep and arrest control away from students that are organized and put in place those who they want on panels to help control the narrative.”
Muhammad Yousuf, president of Student Justice in Palestine, another organization involved with the development of the Demands, mentioned how the administration's choice to host a private meeting was something they wanted to avoid. “Having private meetings is a huge way for the administration to undermine movements because they give different answers to different people, and they’ll try to break the coalition that you’re trying to form.” said Yousuf. Private meetings were the situation up until the Freedom Forum.
“[The administration] has tried creating dialogue, but it isn’t dialogue that is necessarily helpful. It is mostly just used to keep anyone who was invested “complacent,” said Guillermo Pineda, Vice President of Campus Union for Trans Equality and support.
One of the concerns that organizations behind the demands were facing, was speaking their demands only for their voice to not be heard. Yousuf expressed his worries about their voices falling on deaf ears. “Barbara Wilson, the interim chancellor said specifically that she won’t work with student organizations that make demands, which was disheartening.”
Yousef went on to talk about how the demands are focused on the university, campus,and surrounding Urbana-Champaign community to help create a movement of support for the demands. This is done in hopes that the university will have no other option but to enact. “We’re going to continue to educate the community as much as possible...With the Demands we want people to understand what the university is doing to them, especially to marginalized groups...We want them to understand that this is very serious to us and we’re not going to stop no matter what,” said Guillermo Pineda.
*The views expressed in this report are the authors’ alone and are not necessarily shared by the “Hear My Voice…” organization or publications or the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign.