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Latino Student-Activist Denied Registration by UIC

Posted by Admin On August - 10 - 2016
 

2 weeks before classes officially start, University of Illinois at Chicago continues to blackmail student

 

CHICAGO, IL – During academic year 2015-16, Sociology Ph.D. student and migrant justice activist, José Herrera, had to take family health crisis leave outside the US. José diligently followed instructions to formally request his leave, but the University erroneously made an electronic transaction into his bank account in September 2015. The University has since then taken a blackmail approach: pay first, and we will talk later.

 

The Graduate Employees Organization (GEO) at UIC has circulated a petition on behalf of José obtaining more than 200 signatures. José and GEO demand the following from UIC:

1) Remove the hold on José’s student account immediately. 2) Allow him to register for classes and receive written confirmation of his TA appointment. 3) Once these demands are met José will be happy to resolve the overpayment mistake made by the University 4) Hold a formal accountability hearing about what has happened.

 

Two weeks before classes start, José was able to get a hearing about this situation. José does not expect this will be a fair hearing. He will be facing an entire cast of University representatives, all of whom he has already asked to intervene; all of them have so far taken the position that he has done something wrong and therefore the actions by the University are justified. No one has yet intervened or questioned the appropriateness of the action taken against José. He has not been heard thus far and does not expect he will be fairly heard on Wednesday’s review hearing.

 

What: Press conference to denounce the blackmailing and bullying by UIC against José

Where: 809 S. Marshfield Ave (UIC campus) – Chicago IL 60612.

When: Today, Wednesday – August 10 at 11:15am.

 

Background:

Returning to UIC this summer, José was ready to work with the University to correct the overpayment mistake. Instead, the University had already penalized him for not being able to address the matter within a two-week deadline given in 2015 while José was on official family health crisis leave. While on official leave, a “hold” was entered into his student account that now prevents him from registering for his courses – this deliberate attack made by the University against José is now jeopardizing Jose’s TA appointment, status as a student, and academic career.

 

In an open letter addressed to the University, José states, “there is a fundamental institutional hypocrisy revealed by this situation. The University pretends to have understanding and to care about students as human beings by creating a mechanism through which we have the right to take emergency leave; but as soon as we leave we become exposed to blackmail from Payroll and Collections. Our so-called “rights” as students are a sham.” and Collections. Our so-called “rights” as students are a sham.”

 

UIC brands itself as a social justice university, an institution that is inclusive of poor students of color and especially those experiencing extreme marginalization. José is one of those students. He was not on some vacation, backpacking through Europe or some other “exotic” destination. He was not somewhere surrounded by computers and convenience. Maybe UIC is out of touch with the realities of people’s lives who do not fit a specific social and economic profile.

 

This is not about denying that the payment was made in error or wanting to keep the University’s money. This is about whether the University has the right to treat José as though he went into the Payroll office and took out money and now must be coerced to fix that by placing a hold on his registration. It’s about whether the University can deprive him of his status as a student without even giving him a chance to be heard. So far, no one has taken this seriously or tried to work with him to resolve the situation, preferring instead the blackmail approach: pay first, talk later. This is a question of justice, accountability and respect.

 

 

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