Delivering American University's news and views since 1925. | Saturday, May 26, 2018

Student group seeks dialogue with University

Student group seeks dialogue with University
CAUS member Jack Kiraly wears a red felt square, modeled after squares worn by Québécois students during protests against tution hikes in Canada.

Quebec students demonstrated against the education system wearing red felt squares earlier this year. AU students are borrowing this symbol to show their support for the Coalition of American University Students (CAUS).

CAUS aims to increase discussion of issues students have with the administration and resolve them by using students’ own methods of direct action, said group organizer and senior in the School of Public Affairs Chris Litchfield.

“The red patch is a symbol of student solidarity,” said Mitch Ellmauer, one of the organizers and a SPA senior.

Litchfield said the patch is an “identifying mark that shows you support the idea that students should be working to better their own education.”

The patches will be distributed by various members and at gatherings of the CAUS members to discuss and vote on methods of action.

The CAUS will meet every Sunday at 2 p.m. in the Mary Graydon Center Corner Lounge to determine goals for the semester and school year, according to Litchfield. The meetings will be in the form of student assemblies.

“All decisions are made directly by members, who can be any AU student,” said Litchfield.

The group plans to change how the University and students collaborate to bring about change.

“As it is now, we don’t really have a say in how things are run … We think of education as a right, and students are the center of the university,” said Ellmauer.

To go about accomplishing these goals, the CAUS plans to use direct action to “better housing policies [and] reform the Student Conduct Code,” according to a statement issued last year. They also encourage the administration officials “to be open and transparent with their [fiscal] spending,” Litchfield said.

Litchfield said students cannot voice their opinions openly to administrators in the current system.

“The problem with meeting the administration in their space [i.e. in meetings, committees] is the fact that students are intentionally outgunned, intentionally disenfranchised,” Litchfield said. “They put one student on a committee to represent the entire student body and have ten administrators. It’s not an equal dynamic.”

AU administration did not comment in time for publication.

The forms of direct action that the CAUS is considering include rallies on the Quad, phone-ins and write-ins to the administration, as well as “teach-ins.”

“A teach-in is a class run by students or professors who are allies,” Litchfield said. “The idea would be that you hold an unofficial, unsanctioned class about a topic that’s important to the people there.”

As for learning about the CAUS, “word-of-mouth is really effective,” Ellmauer said.

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