December 18, 2012

"Durbinville" protests bring budget issues home

Dozens of U of C students participated in the erection of a shanty town December 6 in Federal Plaza, protesting against budget cuts to federal social programs.

Members of the Southside Solidarity Network (SSN) and other University students joined a crowd of around 300 protesters to construct a “Durbinville” in the fashion of the Depression-era slums named after President Herbert Hoover. Mostly constructed out of cardboard boxes, the shanty town was named for U.S. Senator and Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Il), in an attempt to call out Durbin’s lack of opposition to budget cuts to Medicare, Social Security, and similar programs.

With the encampment looming in the background, Jacob Swenson, a fifth-year philosophy graduate student and member of Graduate Students United (GSU), warned the crowd of the effects of cuts to social safety nets.

“Austerity will only leave us stranded, stranded right here in Durbinville,” he said.

Durbin, who prior to the demonstration did not make any gestures of opposition to cuts, has since announced that Medicare eligibility is off the negotiation table for the Obama Administration, according to an article in Politico.

Swenson said that a number of students on campus were instrumental in planning the event, which included weekly meetings and policy research.