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Gloria Bartolo, a 2nd year molecular biology PhD student, leads marching UCLA postdoctoral scholars and academic researchers in Westwood as they demand better wages, student housing, child care and more. Photo: Getty

Six higher education protests affecting academia

College students are demanding affordable housing, the stop of the anti-educational legislature, a pay raise, and comprehensive health insurance.

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Higher education continues to face many challenges affecting students' ability to succeed in academia, which has prompted students from across the United States to protest—housing crisis, anti-educational legislature, pay raises, comprehensive health insurance, affordable housing, etc. 

AL DÍA’s Journalism Lab on Higher Education investigated which student protests have been happening recently. Here is a summary of the 6 most relevant higher ed protest: 

Temple University & TUGSA

Temple University Graduate Students Association (TUGSA) has been trying to negotiate with Temple University but has not reached a compromise. 

Things escalated when Temple University cut student’s healthcare in what some deem a retaliatory measure. CBS Philadelphia obtained a copy of the email students received for participating in the TUGSA strike

To read more, click here

West Chester University Housing Crisis

On December 9, 2022, approximately 800 WCU students received letters from the WCU administration stating that the randomized Housing Selection Process, the institution could not offer them the opportunity to continue to Phase 2 in the WCU 2023-2024 Housing Application Process.

At the time, students protested the administration's lack of proper notice and transparency, who gave them two options: University Student Housing (USH), which is double the cost, or off-campus housing—with the average one-bedroom apartment in West Chester costing $1,800. 

Although WCU agreed to a one-time $2,000 stipend for all students denied traditional housing. 

WCU students continue to fight for housing and proper accommodations. 

“We say gay!,” Iowa protest  

Students from 47 schools across Iowa coordinated walkouts (about 400 marched) for two reasons, to “educate students about the bills under consideration in the state Legislature and to get the attention of the lawmakers behind those bills,” as reported by NBCNews.

Eight Republicans introduced a House Joint Resolution that proposes an amendment to the Constitution of the State of Iowa relating to marriage that “recognizes the definition of marriage to be the solemnized union between one human biological male and one human biological female.” 

However, this is not the first bill introduced—bathroom bills, gender identity, and banning gender-affirming care for minors have been a common trend by GOP lawmakers nationwide. 

“Legislation was introduced by Iowa state representatives Brad Sherman, Luana Stoltenberg, Mark Cisneros, Helena Hayes, Zach Dieken, Skyler Wheeler, Mark Thompson, and Thomas Gerhold. Their proposal comes more than two months after Congress ratified gay marriages and almost eight years after the U.S. Supreme Court's historic legalization of same-sex marriage in America,” reports USAToday.

There are approximately 340 anti-LGBTQ bills introduced this year across the country—with 150 restricting the rights of transgender people. 

Students from the largest school districts in Iowa participated in the walkouts— Des Moines Public Schools, Iowa City Community School District, Ankeny Community School District, Grinnell College, and Iowa State University. 

Students are concerned about how these bills will affect the community and instruction of sexual orientation and gender identity, with the House Joint Resolution seeking to outlaw same-sex marriage. 

American University Protest

Warning: This section contains mention of sexual assault.

According to the Eagle, the American University newspaper, “students protested a lack of action from the University in implementing demands created in response to sexual assault, that took place in Leonard Hall last semester,” after an unidentified individual entered two dorm rooms and sexually assaulted one student. 

However, the Eagle reported at the time that it was unclear if the individual was a student. 

For more information and a list of demand, click here

UC Housing Crisis

The University of Cincinnati is experiencing a housing shortage—students protest the lack of on-campus housing. Despite an increase in enrollment, the UC continues to overlook housing options. 

Action Network reports that “a significant number of students were forced to live in hotels and other temporary accommodations as the university worked to expand the number of available beds on campus. Those incapable of living in these temporary accommodations or paying for more expensive off-campus accommodations were forced to drop out or transfer.”  

Two hours after the application became available, students were waitlisted and notified. 

For more information, click here

UC Historic Strike and Retaliation

After a historic strike of 48,000 academic workers that lasted six weeks, the University of California system faces scrutiny again, this time by what some have deemed a retaliatory move. 

According to the University of California San Diego (UCSD) student newspaper, The Guardian, at least 89 departments across California campuses will be implementing cuts, with enrollment reduction for doctoral programs by up to 33% and teaching assistants by 30%. 

In a letter addressed to UC President Michael Drake, the United Auto Workers (UAW) 2865 states, “the University of California recently signed a compact with the Governor of California to increase graduate enrollment by 2,500 by 2027 in exchange for hundreds of millions of dollars per year in increased state funding. It is a matter of grave concern that the University of California seems to be backtracking on this commitment so soon after making it.”

To read more about the department cuts, click here.

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