Chancellor Unilaterally Agrees to 50% Raise in Graduate Assistant Pay

In an unanticipated and precedent setting move, SIU Chancellor Rita Cheng unilaterally raised the wages of Graduate Assistants employed by the University by 50 percent.  “This raise is long overdue,” she said, “I literally don’t know how they’ve survived up to this point.”  President of the Graduate Assistants union, Matt Ryg, was astonished upon hearing the news.  “You’re shitting me,” he said.  “No?  Well, then, I think the Chancellor and Board of Trustees did the right thing.  This decision obviously represents a newfound humility among the University administration.”  Cheng delivered the news of the policy change at a press conference staged at her mansion-esque bunker outside of Carbondale.  “The stars are aligned for Graduate Assistants at Southern. And really, what the hell?  We can afford it,” Cheng said with a hearty belly-laugh: “Do you know how much money I make?” The new changes are set to take place July 1. “Some would call Cheng’s move calculated, politically motivated, and manipulative… but I wouldn’t,” Ryg said, “I celebrate the Chancellor’s vision and priorities with respect to Graduate Assistant pay.”

Poshard Resigns for Graduate Assistantship

by Jimmy Hoffa

Outgoing SIU President Glenn Poshard announced the next step in his political career on Monday.  In a press conference with loyalists, news media, family and friends, the former Congressman turned University President told reporters that he plans to “go back to Graduate School and study Philosophy.”  Much to the surprise of people who are close to the President, his intentions signal an axiological change of heart, of sorts.  “I need to find out who I am,” Poshard told reporters, “I feel like I may have wasted my life.”  When asked by a student reporter how he plans to live on the meager $1566 stipend per month earned by Graduate Assistants in Philosophy, and, in his advancing age, how he plans to get by on Student Health Insurance that is only “minimally compliant” with Obamacare, Poshard said “by the grace of God go I.”  Third year SIU law student and current President of Graduate and Professional Student Council, Blaine Tisdale, commented on Poshard re-entering Graduate Student life saying “I’m glad I’ll be graduating in May.  President Poshard has a clear record of electability and I wouldn’t want to run against him.”  When asked for comment, Undergraduate Student Government President Adrian Miller, said “I bet I could take him.”  A formal retirement ceremony for President Poshard will be held in May.

Dunn Named Syndicalist of the Year

            By Mother Jones

Dunn2In a much anticipated announcement, SIU president-elect Randy Dunn was recently named “Syndicalist of the Year” by the group Join a Union – Dummy, a loose assembly of national labor unions.

Dunn, who himself was a former member of the Faculty Association during his time at SIU, commented that he is “honored to receive the award,” but added that his accolades are a victory for working people everywhere.

Prior to taking command of the University system, Dunn said he plans to “make the rounds collecting union policy initiatives to advocate with the Board of Trustees.”

Anonymous sources reported that Dunn, a longtime friend of organized labor, “didn’t submit an application” for consideration of the award, but graciously accepted the honor and is eager to “make SIU a syndicalist paradise.”

Representatives of the SIU Presidential Search Advisory Committee approached Dunn to be a presidential nominee for SIU in October 2013, around the same time sources say they started speculating about the candidate’s syndicalist prospects.

“Dr. Dunn was a shoo-in.  We’re happy Join a Union – Dummy had the foresight to offer this award to President-Elect Dunn,” a joint statement from the committee stated.

“However,” the committee’s statement qualified, “we hope he puts his money where his mouth is and does more to reform the University than his predecessor: if Poshard was Thomas J. Hagerty, Dunn needs to be Rudolph Rocker.”

Echoing the committee’s sentiments, students say Dunn can be heard quoting Rocker around campus, expounding upon how “the problem that is set for our time,” as Rocker wrote, “is that of freeing man from the curse of economic exploitation and political and social enslavement.”

Faculty, it is reported, couldn’t believe their ears.  “The guy is too radical for me.  I don’t like it,” said Rachel Stocking, History professor and President of the Faculty Association at SIU.

Upon announcement of the award, Dun cited Rocker’s “Anarcho-Syndicalism: Theory and Practice,” as inspiration.  He hopes, in the words of Rocker, to help forge “an alliance of free groups of men and women based on cooperative labor and a planned administration of things in the interest of the [University] community.”

“This guy is bat-shit crazy,” said Jim Wall, President of the Non-Tenure Track Faculty Association at SIU, “I don’t know what Dunn is talking about.”

Dunn’s speech had union activists cheering, however, as it proceeded into a scathing critique of Bolshevism and Leninist theory.  He said, quoting Lenin’s “What is to be Done?”: “consciousness could only be brought to them” – the workers – “from without.”

Dunn said he and his fellow workers – “comrades,” he called them – know better than Lenin what is to be done. “What Lenin called ‘trade union-consciousness,’ is far more important than any dictatorship of the proletariat and elite vanguard,” Dunn said. “Lenin suffered from his own ‘Infantile Disorder,’” Dunn added.

Dropping names like Big Bill Haywood and Joe Hill, Dunn said he’d like to use his hard-earned, working class street cred to revive the Industrial Workers of the World on campus.

“There are possibilities still today, Dunn said, to create the famed ‘One Big Union,’ expand workplace democracy and organize industrially to form ‘the structure of the new society within the shell of the old,’ as the Wobblies put it.

Dunn said he admires the tireless work of contemporary unionists like Illinois Education Association (IEA) UniServ Director, Bret Seferian.  “Bret is an outstanding asset to this University,” Dunn claimed, “and my first act as President will be to secure a voting seat for Bret on the Board of Trustees.”

“And if you don’t like it,” Dunn jabbed, “you can lean down and kiss my ass.”

To conclude his acceptance speech, Dunn mentioned the kind of social movement unionism exemplified by Karen Lewis and the Chicago Teachers Union as models to be tried and tested in Carbondale.  He added that he gets goose bumps every time he receives an automated voice message IEA President Cinda Klickna, who he called “a credit to the human race.”

And, he said, labor activist Bill Fletcher Jr. is correct to call for “a new unionism,” and a kind of “community unionism,” connecting worker’s issues to a broader institutional and social context. He said “SIUC is a great place to start creating the syndicalist paradise we’ve always dreamed of.”

“Join me, my friends,” he added.

Award in hand and with eyes on the future, Dunn said it is crucial to draw inspiration from the past.  He pointed to thinkers like Anton Pannekoek, an early advocate of workers councils, as a continual source of inspiration.

“With the development of society we see arise new forms of fight,” Dunn read from one of Pannekoek’s writings.  And, with a characteristic fire in his eyes, “this development imposed by the growth of capitalism and the growth of the working class, must go on in ever mightier display.”

“I also have an everlasting crush on the late Emma Goldman,” Dunn said sheepishly.

He said, like Goldman, if he can’t dance, he doesn’t “want to be part of your revolution.”

Reflecting upon receiving “Syndicalist of the Year” honors, Dunn said he seriously questioned the legitimacy of his new position as University president. Perhaps too much “power-over,” he said, adding that the $430,000 salary he is set to receive is “goddamn ridiculous.”

Yet, he likened himself to a poor-man’s Eugene Debs, a labor activist who ran for President of the United States several times. To instantiate the comparison, he read some of Debs’ oft-quoted lines in performative fashion, demanding unions heed his call:

I would not lead you into the promised land if I could, because if I led you in, someone else would lead you out. You must use your heads as well as your hands, and get yourself out of your present condition; as it is now the capitalists [and administration] use your heads and your hands.

Semester recap

Can you believe another semester is over already? Here’s a handy recap.

January: The year started off with favorable omens, as per Carbondale tradition, Chancellor Rita Cheng ritually slaughtered a bull on the steps of Shryock Auditorium. After reading the entrails and pronouncing them favorable, Cheng addressed the audience, stating that the sacrifice’s spotless liver augured well for the school’s new distance learning initiative. All did not go well for everyone, however, when after the ceremony, Graduate Assistant Sheila Pottsworth slipped on the slick surface and struck her head on the pavement. Pottsworth, assigned from the School of Agriculture to clean up after the sacrificial bull, is said to be responding well to treatment.

February: In the depths of winter, added stress was placed on the student body when it was revealed that Faner Hall was actually the result of Cold War efforts by the Central Intelligence Agency and other interested parties in the field of behavior modification. Calling it an “abomination,” and “a complete failure of vision,” the CIA later sold the building to the State of Illinois for one dollar. When asked to comment on the situation, Chancellor Cheng said, “the weird energy among the people who work in Faner is better than no energy, I guess.”

March: Many among the campus community were aghast when large sections of Thompson Woods were donated to the federal government to be used to house inmates from Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. The facility’s closing and subsequent reopening on the SIUC campus is particularly challenging for residents because, in the words of Chancellor Rita Cheng, “while we’re all thrilled that the United States is closing Guantanamo, perhaps the middle of a university isn’t the best place to put those folks. On the other hand, it’s jobs, right?” Rumors of graduate assistantships at the new facility, Camp Saluki, continue to circulate.

April: Spring came in full force to Carbondale this year, with several fronts of existential fear moving through the area with gale force psychic turbulence. Particularly affected by the storms of dread and uncertainty were Graduate Assistants in their last semester of funding. Marked by the rank smell of fear and the outline of adult diapers in their pants, they find out the awful truth that the faculty of their departments don’t, in the words of SIUC Provost Dr. John Nicklow, “really give that much of a crap about their graduate students.” Nicklow elaborated on the theme, stating at one point, “the key thing to is to make sure they’ve joined the Alumni Association before we throw them out.”

May: The SIUC community was certainly gratified when U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan was this year’s commencement speaker. His speech, “Pay Us or We’ll Sure Enough Ruin Your Life,” really brought to life the consequences of defaulting on student loan debt. Duncan inspired the audience with his first-hand experiences of dealing with student loan defaulters. “Believe me,” Duncan declared, “once they’ve gone through a few waterboarding sessions, those deadbeats really get the message about the importance of timely loan payments.”

 

Academic Year in Review (so far)

We at GAU started the year off with the election of a great group of newly elected, stern and committed officers ready to hit the ground running.

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September, things at SIU were looking up with a “strong freshman class.”

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While the university faced a decrease in enrollment costing the University about $1 million.

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SIU began email migration from Google to Microsoft

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November in the Ukraine, demonstrations and civil unrest began.

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And next door the Winter Olympics were going off without a hitch

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or controversy

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 Meanwhile, back in Illinois, the Polar Vortex was upon us and it was cold.

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 Naturally the flu made the rounds so hopefully you got vaccinated.

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And Polar Bear continued for the 13th year in a row.

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Then there was the return of the Polar Vortex

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SIU Trustees named Dunn the new president

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Did I mention that we got another Polar Vortex?

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Angela Davis came to campus and gave an awesome talk

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Who knows how the rest of the year will go but if you’re graduating, WELL DONE!

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Otherwise with GAU Officer elctions coming up soon we’ll see you next year with a newly elected executive council.

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What it’s like to live in Southern Illinois

If you are lucky enough to live in the Southern Illinois area then you know it has its ups and downs. Ever heard of an Inland Hurricane? Now you know. 15 year bar ban on Halloween? Absolutely. Close proximity to state parks? Awesome. Of course, like most places, it’s the little things that make life what it is and if you live or work at Southern Illinois University Carbondale some of these may seem all too familiar.

RESTAURANTS

Busy? Stressed? No time to cook and wanting something delivered? We have pizza.

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Looking for a nice place to eat for that special occasion? If you don’t mind landlocked sushi we have a couple of suggestions.

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Hey, I hear there’s a Frozen Yogurt place!

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Seriously though, I love Cool Spoons. Here, get a coupon.

This is not to say there’s not much variety. But if you have found a place you like, guess what? It just closed.

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GETTING AROUND TOWN

Don’t need a car? Want to rely on public transportation? Good for you! Good luck with the bus route though.

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And be careful if you ride because those bike paths end unexpectedly

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So if you do buy a car be careful because  deer are everywhere; drive slow.

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WEATHER

Welcome to Southern Illinois, a place for all seasons! Here, the weather is anything but predictable and can change quickly!

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It can get a little warm in the Summer.

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And the winters can be a tad chilly

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But when the weather is just right, it’s a beautiful thing.

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DOWNTIME

If you want to enjoy that beautiful weather, Southern Illinois is home to dozens of vineyards!

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And the bar scene’s not that bad

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Looking for something a bit more physical? You can go hiking, take an athletic class at the Rec Center, or join one of the University Sports Clubs. But you might be surprised to find that knitting is a common hobby.

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But let’s face it, if you’re in grad school, you probably don’t have a lot of down time.

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Dr. Cornel West

Dr. Cornel West Flyer (4-17)