The DePaulia

Filed under Metro, News

#SaveColumbia marches in backdrop of NFL Draft

Hang on for a minute...we're trying to find some more stories you might like.


Email This Story






A professor holds a sign lamenting administrator salaries at Columbia College Chicago on May Day. Students, faculty and staff demonstrated outside the university’s campus in the South Loop, an earshot away from this weekend’s NFL Draft festivities. (Parker Asmann / The DePaulia)

A professor holds a sign lamenting administrator salaries at Columbia College Chicago on May Day. Students, faculty and staff demonstrated outside the university’s campus in the South Loop, an earshot away from this weekend’s NFL Draft festivities. (Parker Asmann / The DePaulia)

Tucked behind the backdrop of the NFL Draft, individuals gathered along Michigan Avenue on a flawless May afternoon in front of Columbia College’s administrative offices with demands that would have to be met before onlookers would see their efforts disperse.

Columbia College Chicago students, faculty and staff took to the streets Friday demanding their administration to freeze tuition, stop cutting courses and end the push for larger class sizes. The sit in comes in the wake of the college’s #SaveColumbia coalition, which has continued the ongoing struggle to bring higher education back to the roots and values it was founded on, rather than continuing down a road of unilateral changes.

The #SaveColumbia group is a coalition of students, staff and faculty ranging in full and part time status who have organized to address the recent draft of the university’s Strategic Plan as well as the well being of its community and faculty. According to the Columbia Chronicle, the university’s Strategic Plan called for significant changes that included the establishment of a campus center, curriculum revisions, the formation of six new administrative positions along with a hiring and workforce reduction plan.  After meeting at two separate forums on April 9 and 14, the coalition has hopes of promoting diversity, inclusion and equity on behalf of the students, staff, faculty and administration as a whole.

In the last three years, Columbia students have seen their tuition rise considerably each year. The Board of Trustees has announced another tuition hike of 3.3 percent for the fall of 2015 after the college saw its tuition increase by 5.2 percent in 2013 and 4.4 percent in 2014. These spikes in tuition come accompanied by the hiring of half a dozen new vice presidents on campus and have students and faculty alike weary of the path that the school is headed down.

Diana Vallera, president of the P-fac at Columbia College, the union representing the interests of part-time faculty, detailed the group’s views regarding the college’s Strategic Plan in a press release.

“Columbia is moving toward the state university model, with larger classes, fewer course offerings and a top-heavy administration that is out of touch with faculty and students,” she said.

Many students on hand voiced concerns about the financial status of the university, specifically the budget and how student’s tuition dollars are being spent. Sarah Vesely, a fiction writing major and writing tutor at the school, expressed her personal concerns with her own job security and educational experience.

“There’s a lot that’s been going on at Columbia that I don’t necessarily agree with,” she said. “My job, which is a student job, is not being cut but we’re not being paid anymore. I think it’s ridiculous that you can’t pay students minimum wage, it’s kind of silly, our tuition is going up but where is that money going?”

Students protesting at the corner of Michigan Avenue and Harrison Street in the South Loop. (Parker Asmann / The DePaulia)

Students protesting at the corner of Michigan Avenue and Harrison Street in the South Loop. (Parker Asmann / The DePaulia)

With hopes that the university would actively listen to their voices, Vesely predicted a dim future for Columbia if their demands were not heard and met.

“I think that Columbia is going to see a drop in enrollment and a lot of people transferring,” she said. “The education will not be as beneficial. Especially in an arts related field, you need to have the connections and truly be part of your department, and that is negatively impacted when it’s not as student focused.”

Similar sentiments were conveyed among students participating in the picket line. Graphic design major Brian Mayzure expressed concerns about the quality of education he would be receiving as a result of the university’s new Strategic Plan.

“I have one instructor, Marlene Lipinski, who is leaving at the end of the semester and she’s been here a long time,” he said. “She has a wealth of knowledge to provide us students and her voice is being silenced. I really feel like that’s a shame and a detriment to us.”

“We want the administration to listen to us. We want them to stop hiring vice presidents at six and seven figure salaries and invest in the students, invest in the faculty. We don’t need any more managing.”

Students were not alone in their displeasure with the corporate model Columbia has embraced and the direction that the university’s priorities are heading. James Sherman, an adjunct faculty member in the theatre and creative writing departments, explained how these changes are negatively impacting the community.

“I think the corporate model is bad for the school and the students, it certainly effects how we can do what we do to serve the students,” he said.

“The class sizes are increasing and that effects my ability to have the kind of relationship that I want to have with my students. Particularly in the classes I teach, it’s about participation, these are arts classes, these aren’t lectures and they’re not seminars. My ability to interact one-on-one with each student is crucial.”

Although change of this magnitude cannot be expected to occur immediately, Columbia students and faculty have made it a priority to voice their concern and displeasure with the way the university is treating and caring for their community.

“Part of what makes Columbia special is that the students here are working with people who are professionals in their own fields of endeavor, and that kind of training is invaluable, it’s priceless,” Sherman said.

Leave a Comment

If you want a picture to show with your comment, go get a gravatar.




Navigate Right
Navigate Left
  • #SaveColumbia marches in backdrop of NFL Draft

    Metro

    Photo gallery: Chicago mourns the death of Commander Paul Bauer

  • #SaveColumbia marches in backdrop of NFL Draft

    Metro

    Photo of the week: Dibs!

  • #SaveColumbia marches in backdrop of NFL Draft

    Metro

    Chicago runners undeterred by record lows

  • #SaveColumbia marches in backdrop of NFL Draft

    Metro

    Kennedy, Biss and Pritzker leading the Democratic pack in governor’s race

  • #SaveColumbia marches in backdrop of NFL Draft

    Metro

    Sophomore candidate for Cook County Board denies PAC funds

  • #SaveColumbia marches in backdrop of NFL Draft

    Metro

    DePaul alum prepares for race to 10th District State Representative seat

  • #SaveColumbia marches in backdrop of NFL Draft

    Metro

    Bushra Amiwala gears up, student looks to add politics to her extracurriculars

  • #SaveColumbia marches in backdrop of NFL Draft

    Metro

    Pawar announces Cairo mayor as lieutenant governor running mate

  • #SaveColumbia marches in backdrop of NFL Draft

    Metro

    Meet DePaul’s own Bushra Amiwala, the 19-year-old running for a Cook County board seat

  • #SaveColumbia marches in backdrop of NFL Draft

    Metro

    Dems, allies rally against Trump in Loop

The Student News Site of DePaul University
#SaveColumbia marches in backdrop of NFL Draft