Fourteen DePaul University students have staged a campus occupation against the university’s tuition policy — the first occupation at a US Catholic university this year.
On Thursday evening, students and allies staged an action in DePaul’s administrative offices as a part of the March 1 national day of student action. They met briefly with the university president, who rejected their tuition freeze demands. Non-students were escorted out of the conference room by police at 6:30 pm, and the remaining students left voluntarily two hours later.
Last night a group of students reconvened at the university’s student center in advance of a scheduled trustee vote on a tuition increase this morning. As the deadline for the building’s closing passed, fourteen students decided to remain in occupation. Supporters raised a tent outside the building, and made plans for a 7:30 am demonstration. In an overnight statement, the occupiers declared that the university’s tuition has increased by 35% in the last seven years, and that the average DePaul graduate now leaves with a $28,000 debt load.
8:30 am (Chicago Time) Update | With the trustee meeting scheduled to begin at the top of the hour (9 am Chicago time), students have learned that the meeting is being moved to a new, secret location.
Noon Update | From the Occupy Chicago Facebook page:
The DePaul administration was scheduled to meet this morning to vote on the tuition hike at the Lincoln Park campus. At the last minute, the meeting was moved to an undisclosed location. Anthony Alfano, President of the Student Government Association, accepted an invitation to the meeting. He was driven downtown by administrators, who made him enter through the back door of a high-rise and refuse[d] to reveal his location to him.
This is utterly astonishing, if true: Not only did the DePaul board of trustees move their meeting to an undisclosed off-campus location, but they refused to tell the students’ elected representative, whom they invited to the meeting, where that meeting was being held. It’s like something out of a bad movie.
12:30 Update | I’ve added DePaul to the site’s map of 2011-12 campus occupations. It’s the 38th occupation so far this academic year, the fourth in Illinois, and — as noted above — the first at a Catholic college.