In continuing their protest against the University of Oregon for deciding not to renew housing contracts for many graduate fellows during spring term’s finals week, the Graduate Teaching Fellows Federation, or GTFF 3544, held a “Rally for UO’s Graduate Village Bullshit” on June 21.
Beginning at 2 p.m. in front of Johnson Hall—-the university’s administrative building—-a group of approximately 20 protesters gathered, chalked the sidewalk, and planned their march through campus.
Prior to beginning the march, a brief speech was made and the group declared four demands that are included on the press media release:
“1. That each and all tenants, graduate and undergraduate, be allowed [or should have been allowed] to renew their lease and keep their units if they need and choose to, as per the usual process outlined by UO FHUA;
2. That both buildings of the Graduate Village remain an affordable housing option for current and incoming UO graduate as well as undergraduate students, and their families – not a quarantine space;
3. That a policy be put in place to protect students against displacement, not a “Termination clause” that would put us further in housing precarity;
4. And that a letter for extensions be provided to all students/tenants, who have been unable to focus, work, and may need more time to meet deadlines this term.”
The press release for this protest stated, “Halving the housing at the East Campus Graduate Village is not the first time the University has put its projected net revenues ahead of students’ well-being and successful educational careers.”
Moreover, as part of the housing contract for graduate fellows, it states that “Neither this contract nor your occupancy of space in University Housing is subject to the ‘Oregon Residential Landlord and Tenant Act.’ This contract is for a unit (“Unit”) in University Housing and creates no right to occupy a particular Unit in a particular location or building.”
Marching, the group reached the corner of University Ave. and 13th St. where they chanted towards an officer with the Eugene Police Department in his cruiser waiting at the intersection. The officer took a flyer, too.
Marching on, the group headed towards the entrance of the 2021 Olympic Trials at the university’s Hayward Field. Many sat down in the shelter of the shade during the 90-degree day and listened to speakers as spectators for the trials walked by.
An international graduate student talked about the difficulty of getting housing in Eugene. The speaker said that housing here often comes with psychological abuse and financial difficulty. People are also rejected because they have an accent, too, he said.
After informing the masses, the group left—-continually passing out the remainder of their 200 flyers to people—-and marched through campus to Franklin Boulevard. Following a dialogue with EPD Traffic Safety Supervisor, Sergeant Shawn Marsh, about being safe, the group marched on the sidewalks and held their signs for those driving by.
The group marched along the sidewalk on Franklin Blvd. before ending back up on campus where the rally ended under the shade of many trees.
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