Sunday, May 24, 2015

Columbia Protest!

Paying More, Getting Less: 
Columbia College Chicago
by Labor Beat

A coalition of faculty and students at Columbia College Chicago picked May 1, 2015 to hold a sidewalk protest plus sit-in at the office of Dr. Kwang-Wu Kim, President and CEO of the school. Their complaints have been piling up for some time, and, unfortunately, have a lot in common with those from many college and university campuses in the U.S. Columbia College Chicago, situated on Michigan Avenue across the street from Grant Park, emphasizes arts and media education.

P-FAC, the union representing the part-time faculty at Columbia College, have organized together with the students to form the coalition #SaveColumbia. It is calling, among other things, for an end to six-figure salaries for administrators, for freezing tuition at the rate from the year a student entered, for transparent budget and good faith bargaining with United Staff of Columbia College. On the day of the protest and sit-in, P-FAC department representatives voted unanimously to initiate a vote of no confidence against Columbia College President Kim and Provost Wearden.

Interviewed are: Sarah Schlieder (student); Jude Valentin (student); Diana Vallera (President of P-FAC, the part-time faculty union at Columbia College Chicago); Victoria Shannon (adjunct faculty); Michael K. Paxton (adjunct faculty); Reginald Wilson (adjunct faculty).

Valentin commented about the large "Industry-Leading Faculty" window posters that are prominent to viewers on Michigan Avenue. "When I came here for orientation I thought, 'oh, that's so cool'. But now at the end of my freshman year I'm like 'this is really sad'. Because 'Industry-Leading Faculty' it is but it's not the truth. The truth is that [they who have] the potential to be great in teaching us, in teaching us what we need to know in order to go out in the world, are being shafted. They're being shafted, their classes are being cut, and kids who need their classes to graduate aren't being able to have those classes. And that's not fair."

Following informational picketing in front of the Michigan Ave. campus, a group of students and teachers rode the elevator to the 5th Floor of the main building, where President Kim's office is located. Hoping to have a discussion with the president, they were instead locked out from even talking to his receptionist. 

"They've limiting the number of people who are up on the 5th floor", P-FAC President Vallera explained while in phone conversation with the outside. "They've locked us out. We can't even go into the office area to ask to meet with the president. And students right now are trapped in the staircase, and they've locked the elevators so nobody else can go on the 5th floor. So everyone should be pretty outraged because this is the message of silence to our demands from Dr. Kim, not a conversation."

Later in the day, we learned from #SaveColumbia what happened to President Kim: "Kim just left just now. He was here the whole time. Ignored us. Well." Also can be viewed at:

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