Graduate Employees’ Organization stands in solidarity with Black Student for Revolution

By Charlotte Collins

The recent spotlight on race relations at the University has prompted a third campus group to voice its support for Black Students for Resolution. 

The Graduate Employees’ Organization Local 6300 IFT/AFT, or GEO, at the University released a statement Monday  proclaiming its firm stance in solidarity with the Black Students for Revolution.

The GEO joins the Office of Inclusion and Intercultural Relations and the Gender and Women’s Studies Department in  campus groups that have publicly declared support for the Black Students for Revolution. 

The responses from different groups in the campus community have come in the wake of an “Illini White Student Union” Facebook page created Wednesday, hours after the Black Student Solidarity rally on the Main Quad.

Facebook removed the initial page shortly after it was created and it was condemned by University administration in a Massmail, but new versions have since surfaced and remain on Facebook. The page currently has 5,470 likes after it gained the attention of several national media outlets. The Black Students for Revolution Facebook page currently has 504 likes.

Gus Wood is a PhD candidate at the University and has dual roles as a member of the Black Students for Revolution as well as an officer at the GEO. He has worked with the GEO for almost three years and was co-president last year. Wood said the GEO focuses on making sure graduate employees, like teaching assistants and research assistants, are “happy and not having issues with the departments.”

Wood said in addition to maintaining healthy working conditions for graduate employees, the GEO focuses on issues of social justice and has a “very big dedication to racial issues on campus.”

“The GEO is very, very vigilant to speak on these things and condemn things like the Illini White Student Union created strictly to restrict, monitor and hurt people on campus or jeopardize the safety of black people on campus,” Wood said.

The Illini White Student Union was referenced among other events and patterns on campus that make black students feel unwelcome or unsafe. The GEO praised the Black Students for Revolution for addressing “a campus steeped in white supremacy, racial violence, dehumanizing imagery, aggressive policing, and an apathetic administration while also calling upon black students to organize themselves into a conscious collective to challenge their oppressed position.”

The GEO denounced “all forms of structural and private racism that permeate throughout the campus especially the formation of the ‘llini White Student Union,’ a white supremacist group that advocates the monitoring and data collection of black students and faculty on campus.”

The group also called the University administration’s response to the issue passive. In the University’s initial massmail about the Facebook page, trademark infringement was addressed as a concern, which the GEO argued pushed “black lives’ and campus safety to the periphery.”

The group said it will continue to support the Black Students for Revolution and that the solution for institutionalized racism doesn’t exist within the framework of the University.

“A revolution, which is when organized oppressed groups utilize self-determination to transform an institution and culture, is the only path towards justice,” the group said.

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