Provost responds to IU on Strike members
After activist group IU on Strike concluded their noise demonstration Tuesday with a parade through Provost Lauren Robel’s office, one of the strikers allegedly shoved executive secretary Karen Easter.
The group came to discuss their demands with the provost. While she was speaking with them, some members of the group allegedly broke into an internal office and threw fliers around the room and into Robel’s purse. In response, Robel issued an email statement Wednesday that both the Bloomington Faculty Council and IU Student Association endorsed. The statement explained the provost’s support for the discussion of important issues such as affordability and diversity at IU.
Robel then explained the events that transpired at her office, calling them “unsettling.” She went on to emphasize the importance of nonviolent civil disobedience.
“There is a deep literature and practice around civil disobedience, one that at its most honorable calls, in my view, for nonviolence as its core, and nonviolence in its orientation,” Robel said in her email.
IU on Strike wrote a letter replying to the provost shortly after her statement was released. They denied shoving Easter or making a mess.
“The secretary was the one blocking the door, she was the one not letting us through,” member of IU on Strike Tucker Lang said, who was present at the incident.
Their letter said strikers ducked under Easter’s arms to pass her, rather than pushing her. They also said IU Police Department officers accompanying them did not intervene.
“The provost’s claims of vandalism in an ‘internal office’ are completely unfounded, to our knowledge, and there were several IUPD officers present throughout the encounter — no complaints seem to have been filed at the time,” IU on Strike letter stated.
In Robel’s statement, she made it clear she would not grant immunity to the strikers.
“In direct action, honorable traditions of civil disobedience require accepting the consequences of that direct action,” Robel said in the email.
She said she couldn’t excuse their behavior when she didn’t know what that future behavior would be.
“Neither I nor anyone at the university can preemptively excuse undefined behavior,” Robel said.
She also said university policies were still in effect.
“We do not suspend university activities when a group organizes a demonstration,” Robel said. “Our faculty and staff have a duty to provide the classes and services for which our students attend Indiana University.”
Robel said she remains interested in talking to the group about the issues, but that members have declined a meeting. She said there is no wage freeze, one of the things the group demanded be lifted.
“Support staff have received base increases ranging from 1.5-3.5 percent every year since the recession started, with the exception of 2009, when the university reserved cash $500 bonuses for employees who earned less than $30,000,” Robel said.
IU on Strike said she didn’t take into account the effect of inflation on wages.
“Much of the support staffs’ pay increases each year are below inflation,” the IU on Strike letter read.
Despite the discrepancies, the provost encouraged members to follow their
“I continue to welcome all members of our community to consider the implications of the meeting yesterday that this message describes,” Robel said. “As I did yesterday, I encourage all members of our community to follow their moral compasses and do what they feel is right.”
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