The Daily Illini

GEO attempts to receive national attention through social media, rally

Members of the GEO rally on University President Killeen's front lawn on Mar. 6, 2018.

Members of the GEO rally on University President Killeen's front lawn on Mar. 6, 2018.

Kenyon Edmond

Kenyon Edmond

Members of the GEO rally on University President Killeen's front lawn on Mar. 6, 2018.

By The Daily Illini Staff Report

Despite a cold and sometimes snowy day, the Graduate Employees’ Organization strike continued Tuesday, extending the strike further into the week with more picketing and rallies.

No progress was made at the bargaining session this past weekend, according to a GEO press release. The next bargaining session between the GEO and administration is Wednesday at 9 a.m.

Award-winning activist Ai-jen Poo spoke at the rally outside Foellinger Auditorium. She said she planned a reception and discussion about a year ago, and when she heard about the strike, she knew she wanted to support the cause.

“It’s really important that the graduate employees are standing up for their right to an education and to be respected also as workers,” Poo said at her discussion.

GEO media contact Ashli Anda said the GEO knew she was coming to campus for events so they asked if she’d come over to the rally.

GEO co-president Augustus Wod said that Poo’s presence at the rally was inspiring and shows the strength and virality of the protests.

“Everybody knows about us now, we’re trending on Twitter because everybody sees that education must win here,” Wood said. “We reached out and she was like, ‘Oh yeah, GEO strike? Oh yeah, I’m here. The workers are in trouble.’”

Poo’s appearance follows GEO effort to garner national attention on social media for the strike, as they participated in a “social media storm” Monday evening. Using the tag #EducationForAll, members and supporters shared posts and photos on different social media outlets.

Megan Gargiulo, Ph.D. student in Hispanic literature and steward for the Spanish and Portuguese department, said as more attention is placed on the GEO’s cause, more pressure will lead the University back to the bargaining table.

“I would argue that we already have national attention due to the support of our family members,” Gargiulo said. “I’m from Mississippi. I’ve been sharing the story with people I know.” 

Along with picketing and rallies, the Chicago Teachers Union and the West Suburban Teachers Union delivered letters on Tuesday in support of the GEO to multiple University Board of Trustees members at their workplace.

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