Each morning when Temple University President Peter Liacouras walks to his office in Sullivan Hall he is greeted by dozens of Temple students -- in sleeping bags. Two weeks ago, more than 50 students moved into Feinstone Lounge across from Liacouras' office to show their support for Temple's faculty, who have been striking since September 4, and to insist that classes resume. The carpeted lounge, decorated with photographs of various United States presidents, is now home to dozens of sleeping bags, empty soda bottles and angry students. The group, which calls itself Students United for Education, has scheduled a campus-wide undergraduate strike for today. Students are encouraged to skip the few classes that are still being held -- most courses have not met this year since the faculty strike began on the first school day -- and join faculty members on the picket lines. But for now, as most of their teachers march for better pay and benefits, SUE members follow a daily schedule starting with reveille and ending with a campfire chat. Wake-up is at 8:30 a.m., when students go into the hallway to "welcome" Liacouras. From 9:00 to 9:30, they hold meetings to decide the day's events, and at noon the activities begin, ranging from sit-ins on Broad Street to an open forum at the Bell Tower -- the center of the Temple campus. "We are not activists, we are not hippies, we just want class," Temple sophomore Mark Boyce said yesterday. Boyce was one of 26 Temple students arrested Monday after a three-hour rally that blocked Broad Street. For the rest of the afternoon students either go to their classes, if they have any, to work, or hang out at the SUE headquarters in Feinstone Hall. The Temple Association of University Professionals, the faculty union that organized the strike, estimates that over 70 percent of classes have been canceled, and that the number is increasing. Then each night at 10:00 p.m., the students sit and talk about the days events. TAUP called for the faculty strike to protest the university's most recent contract offer, which would increase annual salaries by five percent, 2.5 percent lower than the faculty requested. As the strike enters its fourth week, many students are trying to get a place in any class that is meeting. Others have dropped all their courses and have asked for their money back. Temple officials do not have the official number of students who have withdrawn for the semester. Temple freshman Elizabeth Lansing said that she is so disgruntled with her school's administration that she is going to transfer. Undergraduates are not the only students taking action. The Graduate Student Employee Association is planning a teach-in Thursday, which will coincide with the one-day undergraduate student strike. The GSEA went on strike for two days during the first week of the faculty strike to call attention to the needs of the 750 graduate teaching and research assistants. And seven graduate students were arrested last week for blocking the entrance to Liacouras' office. They have been banned from Temple until a university hearing.Comments powered by Disqus
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