We are a group dedicated to encouraging and providing opportunities for free and open political discourse, debate We will form coalitions with any groups or organizations interested in empowering participants and tearing down institutional and cultural systems of oppression when and where they are encountered. We are committed to social justice… We oppose all forms of oppression, domination, and exploitation, no matter their power or
Today RSU members chalked on UIS campus with a focus on student loans and tuition increases at UIS. Statistics included: Citing a 250% increase in tuition at UIS over 10 years compared with a 25% US inflation rate over the same period. This was based on a 12 credit hour semester and tuition and fees gathered from uis.edu. The dollar amounts of the UIS tuition
As we turn into the homestretch of the 2012 election, there are countless news stories and discussions about the idiosyncrasies that differentiate President Obama and Governor Romney. Maybe it’s just the RSU that’s confused by this, but when we look at the present election we see two right of center, corporatist parties posturing as opposites; though it’s a good bet the Liberty Club is scratching
Well the day has finally come and gone. Millions of Americans took to the polls to vote and President Obama has been given a second chance to produce the much hyped Change that was promised in 2008. So what was the monetary cost of this charade? Early estimates are coming in and as predicted this election cycle is looking to be the most expensive federal
We always like to support our allies in their endeavors and our friend Josh Bailey of Prairie Assunder and Rose City Underground is always up to good things. His last big project was Music for Manning and we were proud to join him and help raise over $800 for Bradley Manning’s Defense Fund, with the help of a matching contribution. His next project is through
From that irrefutable observation, it would seem the compartmentalization of art by our mainstream is increasingly detrimental in a time that corruption and fiscal irresponsibility (alongside our society’s relentless defense of the system that unsustainably perpetuates it) MANDATES the public education sector start chipping away at art programs that are already far below par. To make matters worse, all this comes at a time when the personal exploration of art is deemed an irresponsible venture in the society of the 100-hour-family-work-week. Billionaire entities create and exploit meaningless acts (with some exceptions) and, in doing so, inappropriately align artistic success with the accumulation of capital and fame. Therefore, it’s believed, we only can know semi-talented artists in our personal networks, because the real achievers are in the tabloid, out of reach from us common folk. Thus, those that entertain their artistic desires are simply irresponsible in that they are “wasting their time.”
In my own journey, I picked up a guitar after being bored with Saxophone in a school band I had very little interest in. I’m very self-conscious, so only good friends typically hear me play my guitars, but I do love to play. That love, combined with my own distaste for public performance, gave me a profound sense of respect for musicians that do play for crowds, especially when they can find your heart strings with their melodies, communicate, share, and teach in their lyrics, and captivate in their seemingly disembodied performances. There is no music theory needed for this, only the ability to invite others along for your ride. Any closeted, “in-the-car” musician can get lost in the beat; however, it takes something special to not only do it in front of others, but to get those others lost with you.
In response, I came up with an all-local internet radio to support musicians that are willing, able, and trying to captivate local audiences. I called it Prairie Asunder Internet Radio, and it’s been operational in one way or another for nearly 3 years. In working with all these local bands, it became very apparent to me that there are a lot of amazing musicians within arm’s reach. Not only amazing, but everything I’d dream that music should be, and so much closer than tens of thousands of people away in the center of Wrigley Field. In working with so many of these musicians, music took a whole new definition, my tastes grew entirely eclectic, and I could appreciate any honest type of sound so long as it was being performed in front of me because it was recognized as a communication from someone different than myself, with different experiences, environments, hopes, goals, etc.
In immersing myself with this concept of “local” music, I grew an affection I had never found for our area, and a curiosity towards others. On a personal level, I believe I feel a greater sense of empathy than I did before all the experiences afforded to me by my work with local music, and I wonder if that’s not why art seems so incredibly important as a species. As with our democracy, our educational system has a lot of Greek influence, and I believe there is a reason why Greeks that founded democracy believed in a well-rounded education to maintain it. If scholastics is to train the mind, and athletics is to train the body, then art is surely meant to train the “soul”. A democracy of untrained souls is one of emptiness and apathy, and I believe that it is very hard to educate the “souls” of our children with empty art that is only considered art because the price tag says it is.
What I believe to have learned most in my own experience is that we are all truly artists, or at least truly capable of being artists, if we choose to pursue our creative passions and abandon the notion that we should do it for the same reasons our mainstream inspirations might. We should do it for ourselves and our neighbors, our kids and our communities, to remember the past, to celebrate and educate of the present, and to hope for the future. We should not do it because we hope Simon Cowell may approve, or so that we may feed our egos and/or our pockets. We should learn art for good personal, communal, and societal health, and we should celebrate it with each other because it’s just as important as conversation, and vastly more important than Facebook statuses. We should fight for art within our children’s education, or suffer the consequences of the apathy that seems to coincide with its absence.
For these reasons, the Rose City Underground believes that our community should fight for art the same way that we’d fight for Math, Science, and English if they were to be targeted by the financial crunch. While raising money for the General Education Fund for the sake of the Fine Arts is certainly part of the battle, it is nowhere near all of it. We aim to expose children to local artists that pursue their art for the sake of passion, we intend to provide our youth with extracurricular opportunities to gain knowledge and experience relating to their own creative potential and desires, and we hope to empower upcoming generations by filling a void society seems content to leave empty to its own detriment.
Originally posted on Rose City Underground on May 5, 2013
Well the day has finally come and gone. Millions of Americans took to the polls to vote and President Obama has been given a second chance to produce the much hyped Change that was promised in 2008. So what was the monetary cost of this charade? Early estimates are coming in and as predicted this election cycle is looking to be the most expensive federal election in history, with a price tag coming in at $4.2 billion. That’s $4.2 billion that could be spent to stimulate the economy that instead simply was passed between the pockets of America’s wealthy elite and multi-national media conglomerates and political insiders. That’s $4.2 billion to ensure that our elected officials bow to wealthy benefactors at the expense of the communities they are supposed to represent.
So the question the Radical Student Union would like to ask is: What could $4.2 billion be better spent on?
• We could give 498,220 students a free year of college at the University of Illinois-Springfield or a similarly priced school. (Based on a 2012 cost of $8430/24 hrs tuition and fees) Or we could give 99,644 students a tuition-free bachelor’s degree from UIS. (Based on 120 hr minimum degree requirement) That’s a lot of students who could be given the opportunity of a quality education without the shackles of massive student loan debt.
• We could pay back what the state of Illinois owes its public schools more than 5 times over, with the state owing public schools and universities $735 million as of March 2010. Such a cash influx would allow schools to fully fund and implement programs, provide both students and faculty a better education experience, and slow rising tuition costs at our public universities.
• We could give 1,153,846 minimum wage workers in Illinois a raise to $10 an hour for a year. Such an increase would go a long way helping working individuals survive but still falls short of a fair wage. Based on 40 hrs a week for 52 weeks, remember minimum wage workers don’t get vacation or sick time usually.
• While we’re talking about minimum wage workers, with $4.2 billion we could give 12,727,272 minimum wage workers a paid week of sick/vacation time. That’s based on Illinois’ minimum wage of $8.25 and five, eight hour shifts. That would be a tremendous weight off of working families who have to worry about not being able to afford missing a shift or worry about getting fired because of an unexpected prolonged illness.
We are well aware that the examples used are much more complex than simply paying $4.2 billion dollars. We simply wanted to examine what that volume of money could theoretically do if invested in certain areas of society. $4,200,000,000. That’s a lot of money that could do a lot of good if it wasn’t used to pad pockets and buy influence. This is industry profits, union funds, personal wealth buying favor with those in power rather than reinvesting that money in the economy, in workers, in local communities. Hoping that they backed the right candidate in our pay-to-play political system.
So now we look ahead at a contentious four years until we get to do the whole charade over again. We can hope that candidate Obama will step up to the plate and totalitarian, despot-in-training, first-term Obama will be relegated to the dark corners of the President’s mind. We can hope that our law makers will turn their attention to compromise and tackle our economic woes with working families and individuals in their minds, not moneyed interests whispering over their shoulders. We can hope that our Nobel Laureate President recalls the honor bestowed upon him and turns away from his present militaristic trajectory; complete with unmanned drone assaults, imperialist policies, and human rights abuses. Such is the hope that vaulted the President to the White House four years ago and four years later, the American public has given him a second chance to realize that dream. We can only hope that Nobel Peace Prize winner Obama wakes up in Chicago tomorrow morning ready to tackle the challenges facing the American working class.
-$4.2 billion cost – http://politicalticker.blogs.cnn.com/2012/11/05/2012-election-priciest-to-date-4-2-billion-tab-and-rising
-UIS Tuition costs/120 Credit Hour Minimum Requirement – www.uis.edu
-$735 million owed to state schools – www.uis.edu
-$8.25 Illinois minimum wage – Talk to a minimum wage worker, we have a number of them involved in our organization.
As we turn into the homestretch of the 2012 election, there are countless news stories and discussions about the idiosyncrasies that differentiate President Obama and Governor Romney. Maybe it’s just the RSU that’s confused by this, but when we look at the present election we see two right of center, corporatist parties posturing as opposites; though it’s a good bet the Liberty Club is scratching their head too. Sure there are some important differences between the parties, but there are far more dangerous similarities. No matter which of the two main candidates you vote for you will get more exploitative capitalism, more militarism, more imperialism, and a more oppressive police state.
No matter which of them you choose you will get more interventionist policies and drone attacks. We have two presidential candidates who argue over who will kill more people around the world with drones. There is no discussion of the morality of such actions or the collateral damage caused by such attacks. Instead we see the only two candidates given the time of day by the mainstream media constantly ratcheting up the stakes for the next generation of U.S. militarism.
No matter which of them you choose you will get continued bowing to Israel’s pressure to maintain a modern apartheid against the people of Palestine. The continued praise of Israeli democracy while overlooking their rampant human rights violations. And the stark possibility of the U.S. blindly following Israel into yet another war in the Middle East.
No matter which of them you choose you will get more outsourced jobs and corporate welfare. Romney made his fortunes buying up companies and outsourcing the work, ask the Sensata workers in Freeport, IL about it. Obama has expanded free trade agreements allowing jobs to be shipped to an ever expanding list of labor pools and allowing American corporations to exploit new global labor markets.
No matter which of them you choose you will get massive environmental destruction at the hands of money hungry multinational corporations. Hello Keystone XL. Hello increased dirty fuel production for the benefit of energy conglomerates.
No matter which of them you choose you will get a continuation of our failed War on Drugs. You will see countless more citizens imprisoned rather than given treatment. You will see more communities destroyed by drugs, selective enforcement, and violence.
No matter which of them you choose you will get a leader bought and paid for by corporate and special interests. This election will be the most expensive in history, as it seems most every election cycle is. While working Americans struggle and new graduates search hopelessly for work, hundreds of millions of dollars will be passed between the pockets of America’s aristocratic wealthy populations and the corporate media to guarantee that their propaganda reaches the eyes and ears of the voting public.
You do not have to choose between President Obama or Governor Romney. There are countless options. If you did not see it you should watch the Third Party Debate on RT.com. There the top four third party candidates had a real discussion of the issues, not the scripted joke that the Republicans and Democrats call debates. Real options exist; one must simply exert a little more effort and overcome decades of social conditioning by advocates of our two party system.
Most of us grew up with “lesser of two evils” defining how we learned about and thought about politics. Such a system only survives because we are complicit, even in silence, in its operation. So this November 6th go out and vote. Education yourself and vote for who you think will honestly better this country out of ALL of the candidates. But most importantly remember that democracy isn’t going out and voting every four years. It lives in our homes, our classrooms, and in the streets every second of every day. For those of us who truly want a better future, it will be made there; standing shoulder to shoulder in solidarity with one another.
[The above ran as the RSU's statement about the upcoming election in the UIS Journal. It was ran along side the UIS College Democrat's, College Republicans, and Liberty Forum statements. The link below contains all 4 groups statements.]
EDIT: This column also ran in the Illinois Times on Nov. 1, 2012. Link below:
Today RSU members chalked on UIS campus with a focus on student loans and tuition increases at UIS. Statistics included:
- Citing a 250% increase in tuition at UIS over 10 years compared with a 25% US inflation rate over the same period. This was based on a 12 credit hour semester and tuition and fees gathered from uis.edu.
- The dollar amounts of the UIS tuition increase were $1676/12 hrs in 2003 and $4215/12 hrs in 2012.
Sources – www.uis.edu/registration/tuition/ and www.usinflationcalculator.com
- Citing the average Student Loan Debt as being $24,301. When that debt is looked at being paid back with a standard 10-year loan with a 6.8% interest rate it comes out to $33,558. That’s $9,257 in interest or 27%.
- 60% of students take out loans to pay for college.
- The current level of national student loan debt is between 900 billion and 1 trillion dollars.
- There are 37 million outstanding loans in the US today.
Sources – www.asa.org/policy/resources/stats/default.aspx and www.finaid.org
Looking at these statistics in relation to one another, the RSU determined one important question that needs to be asked. Who is really benefitting from the privatization of our education system? As state funding is cut and state and not-for-profit schools are forced to compete more and more with for-profit universities, our public universities have seen skyrocketing tuition costs to maintain the school budgets. As prices rise, more and more students are forced to take out loans to pay for what they have been told is their civic duty to get an education. Who do they borrow from, who buys their debt? Big banks, Wall St., and their government pawns. While we watch in horror as capitalism seeks to bury the idea of higher education as a right and responsibility of the state. Our only hope is by raising the question, by attempting to initiate conversation, we can help society reject the destruction of our public education system. Access to education is essential for an informed and active society, and an informed and active society is the only protection that the masses have from tyranny.
- We are a group dedicated to encouraging and providing opportunities for free and open political discourse, debate
- We will form coalitions with any groups or organizations interested in empowering participants and tearing down institutional and cultural systems of oppression when and where they are encountered.
- We are committed to social justice…
- We oppose all forms of oppression, domination, and exploitation, no matter their power or origin, in our communities and on campus…
- We strive to facilitate opportunities for the free exchange of ideas and a public space in which to address social issues.
A little over a year ago, on a Sunday evening in September these collectively written points were ratified into the Constitution of the UIS Radical Student Union. They serve as our driving values as we look for opportunities to engage in essential discussions and stand against tyranny at home and abroad. We have always sought to work with others in pursuit if these goals and are proud to support Prairie Asunder’s Music for Manning. Private Manning faces a long fight for justice and it is through the actions of those such as Josh Bailey of Prairie Asunder and those involved with the creation of Music for Manning that we are able to show our solidarity. In the middle of an election cycle that has featured no mention of Bradley Manning, transparency, privacy, drone attacks, the NDAA, or our maintenance of a system of global military coercion. We watch as two neoliberals bicker over their different versions of corporate capitalism without a mention of the costs of the economic and military imperialism that both espouse. The only mention of Private Manning that is heard in the mainstream American media is commentary about how a soldier could do such a thing? There are no questions about how could our leaders, political and military, be complicit in war crimes around the world. No talk of prosecution of those who are shown to be guilty of crimes thanks to Private Manning’s heroic actions. Gone is the due process of law promised to Manning by the Constitution. He has been confined, abused, and condemned without a trial, with even the President saying he is guilty before he stood trial. This is not what we were promised by the American Dream as we grew up, this is the first warning sign of the rise of a new governmental tyranny in the US. We will not stand silent as those who risk everything to inform us all are condemned for their heroism. We will not stand silently complicit as our rights are striped from us by those who are sworn to serve us.