'Have a Hart? Ours is at DeVry'
Protesters flooded the steps of Old Main on Friday afternoon for the second time in just four days.
Today's protest, organized primarily by students from the Graduate Student Organizing Committee, came after what organizer Alex Karaman called a "tipping point" stemming from a platitude of issues including underrepresentation of campus minority groups, adverse administrative decisions, difficult graduate student working conditions and President Ann Weaver Hart's recent appointment to the DeVry Education Group's Board of Directors.
Many people in the crowd stated their reasoning for being there directly stemmed from Hart's position and involvement with DeVry.
"I feel like it's a conflict of interest," said Danielle Blalock, a history PhD student. "Because how can she adequately represent the interests of the students [at the UA] while she's working [at — even if it is on her personal time."
DeVry is currently being sued by the Federal Trade Commission for allegedly deceiving students in telling them that a degree earned at their institution would earn them more and make students more competitive in the job market than a degree earned at other colleges or universities.
Members of cultural groups were also present during the demonstration. While the GSOC normally operates in areas that directly concern graduate students, this time they have reached out to other organizations on campus to make a more united front for students to fight for change.
Hart has said that she will take care of her responsibilities to the DeVry board during her personal time. She will receive a compensation package of $70,000 a year with an additional $100,000 in stock options. Her current compensation at the UA totals out at $665,000 for this year.
"Over the course of time our work has of course allied us with a number of other student groups," Karaman said. "And this protest is meant to draw attention to a range of issues that we feel are very connected but which often times we are forced to talk about separately."
He cited lacking racial representation, support of students of color and graduate student labor concerns as primary issues that were being protested.
Campus groups have tried to use the established channels of communication and have largely been brushed off for years, according to Karaman.
While the groups still plan on taking advantage of these existing, official channels of communication — a call to the crowd was made during the protest for demonstrators to join organizers at the upcoming Arizona Board of Regents meeting in April — they believe they need to take ulterior action in order for the university to truly pay attention to their grievances.
In addition to today's protest, organizers told the crowd to participate in an April 14 campus-wide "walk out," so that students could show their support of campus workers and the other issues referenced during today's event.
Today's demonstration ended with the crowd chanting "we'll be back," before dispersing.
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