Charleston

#FundEIU rally draws concern over remarks –

Charleston, IL. (ECWd) –

Students, staff, and residents held a rally at Eastern Illinois University last week to protest and demand that Governor Rauner pass the budget and provide the much needed funds promised to EIU and other schools in the state.  Sadly, missing from the call was for the General Assembly to pass a balanced budget, which is required by law.

Speakers included Gateway Advisor Yolanda Williams.

We received several emails and phone calls from people about the content of William’s speech, and who expressed concern that some students may take it literally.

I talked to Ms. Williams in her office this morning and explained that I was seeking an answer on the intent of her comments, specifically the “turn over a table or two” comment. I asked if she meant to tell the students to go downtown and trash local businesses, or if she meant her comment as a figure of speech. She declined to comment on the intent of her words, and instead stated that the people reading (or watching the video) should make up their own minds on what her intent was.  It was rather surprising that she did not deny a possible intent of an actual call for violence.

There are a couple interpretations of its content – specifically the “flip a table or two” comment:

The comments stated: “emails, phone calls, and tweets to the governor, and petitions to pass the budget and give them (EIU) their money. They want his supporters to know that if they are going to continue to support him, they (petitioners) are not going to support them (the businesses). It’s time for action, it’s time to mobilize, it’s time to maybe flip a table or two, it’s time to make Governor Rauner to pass the budget and give us our money. “

  1. Was this an innocent figure of speech not to be taken literally?
  2. Was this a call to action, as in violent behavior to specifically start flipping tables over?

We do appreciate concerns of unpaid bills from the State of Illinois to EIU, however, the question needing asked at this point in time is why was the only legislator permitted to address the students a Democrat from outside the district and others present were not permitted?  Was this a coordinated effort by the Democrats prior to the President’s visit to Springfield?

Does it not take two to negotiate? Why no mention of Mike Madigan? If they were truly interested in the budget process and bill payments, maybe consider the constitutional requirement of a balanced budget, which Madigan has yet to provide to the Governor’s office for signing?

By no means are we suggesting the State should get by without holding up their end of contractual obligations, but there can be no expectations of only one side reaching across the isle to meet the other. Proper negotiations require more.

All indications are this “Rally” was nothing more than a political event designed to stir emotions against a Republican governor.  Sadly, as an educational institution, an opportunity to educate on our State Constitution was missed and clearly more people have been misled with the presentations.

EIU-Logo

 

19 replies »

  1. On the issue of the phrase:

    The phrase “turn over a table or two” is a literary reference (before a pop TV show makes it popular) to the well-known event in the Bible:

    “15 On reaching Jerusalem, Jesus entered the temple courts and began driving out those who were buying and selling there. He [b]overturned the tables of the money[/b] changers and the benches of those selling doves, 16 and would not allow anyone to carry merchandise through the temple courts. 17 And as he taught them, he said, “Is it not written: ‘My house will be called a house of prayer for all nations’? But you have made it ‘a den of robbers.’” (NIV Mark 15-17)

    In the original context, it tells a story of expelling illicit influences with anger and force. This appropriation by Ms. Williams is apt in the context of her speech, which is that if calling and emailing our politicians are not going to get their attention, then a forceful and angry response will be warranted. The similarity in phrasing, as well as the contextual alignment, makes it clear that this is the intent of Ms. William’s speech.

    This type of literary reference is what liberal arts degrees are supposed to inculcate in our students, incidentally, and I applaud Ms. Williams for setting an excellent example in using an apt reference to comment on current affairs. It seems to me that you and those whom you spoke to with concerns that this is a call for violent actions against local businesses are unaware of this reference, and hence, had made the wrong assumption. This is common for people who are not used to reading text embedded with literary devices. But now that you know, you can explain to those who are concerned what the proper meaning of that phrase is. I hope you kept the phone numbers and emails of all those people who contacted you on this matter.

    On the issue of your query:

    You said:

    “I asked if she meant to tell the students to go downtown and trash local businesses, or if she meant her comment as a figure of speech. ”

    This question puts the person being asked in the defensive to deny that they intent to incite violence, when in normal interpersonal communication etiquette, one would expect that to be the default. It would be similar to me asking you “Did you mean to write this article as a dog-whistle nod-nod-wink-wink for racists?” That would not be a fair question, because it reveals the assumption of the person asking the question and it sets up an antagonistic communication. What would be more appropriate would be for you to simply ask an open ended question like “Can you clarify the context of your comment? Would like to expand on that comment or elaborate on it?” This will not have put the other person on the defensive, and you might have received an answer. Instead, you put your accusation in the form of a question, thinking it will escape the other person’s notice that you’re really just asking to them to justify something that they didn’t do.

    In other words, if you wish to have a dialogue and to seek understanding with your question, you did a poor job in phrasing and presenting the query. If, on the other hand, your intention was to grandstand and to try to get material to smear someone, then you should expect a lack of cooperation when they see through your attempt.

    • I can see your point. But if I were asked whether I meant to incite violence or whether what I said was a figure of speech, I would reply that it was a figure of speech – if that was how I meant it.

  2. To clarify, the saying, “flip a table” is actually a reference to something that happened on a reality television show several years ago. It’s rather commonly used. So, it doesn’t refer to violence. Second, I agree with most of the other commenters here. You are singling out one sentence by one speaker at the event. And, guess what? Yes, there was a strong union presence at the rally because most of EIU’s employees are either in UPI or AFSCME. And, about three quarters of them are full members, not “fair share” members. There were also hundreds of students at the event. This story does not even come close to meeting the bare minimum standards of what is called journalism. It is a pitiful attempt to making an issue that effects every current and future public university student in IL to a personal agenda. And….YES….I read the article, so there’s no need to repeat that in your reply to me.

  3. This is some fantastic work digging up a single quote and trying to dismiss a whole campus and community. Is this place not about getting at the truth? Or you just report “concerns” from anonymous sources and then pretend like those “concerns” have any basis via pure speculation?

    • I “got to the truth” by asking her in person to clarify her statement. She said to “let the readers decide”. So go decide.

  4. Wow, is this grasping at straws or what? This is a really pathetic hit piece on a rally which included overwhelmingly student and faculty voices calling for bipartisan appropriations. Even the one politician spoke on MAP grants, which the governor has promised to veto. But yeah, play your partisan game. Cute.

    • Hit piece? Far from it.
      Please read the article again.
      The partisanship was displayed by refusing to allow local representatives to talk, but instead inviting a D from outside the area to talk instead.
      We played no partisan game, just pointed out the facts.

    • For starters, she is not a private person, but rather a public employee.
      Please read the article again, as we “left it up to the readers” as she suggested.

  5. If you would have listened to the beginning of her speech she mentions that she is usually the type to stay quiet during functions like that, and when it’s all over she lets it out and flips some tables. Obviously, both cases are figures of speech for taking action. Don’t make mountains out of molehills.

  6. Have you thought about the fact that this rally was an event to call attention to the fact that the school is in severe need of the funding it is owed? It seems as though you are so hung up on a figure of speech that you have missed the point entirely. You people are doing nothing but using this cry for help as yet another donkey vs. elephant battle. It does not matter what party the governor represents. A budget needs to be passed either way. And not just for EIU. WIU is not too far behind in this struggle and most certainly many more schools to follow.

    • Did you even read the article? I asked her to clarify and she said to “leave it up to the readers” – so that is what we did.
      The donkey vs elephant battle was evident when all people were not allowed to speak.

    • Does it have anything to due with EIU needing funding because 3,000 less students attend? I had 2 kids go to EIU. Tuition was $10,000 per year. 3,000 X $10,000 = $30,000,000. I know the State owes them money, but, $30,000,000 in loss revenue is something.

  7. I heard that the gathering had a strong union / AFSCME presence, or at least AFSCME had a strong presence. I would ask AFSCME – and any other participating unions, organizations AND EIU Admin – where they stand on her comments – on both the literal translation and possible intent. Perhaps she meant, “turn the tables”, but as you pointed out, she refused to clarify, so let’s take her at her literal word, as she spoke it. Consequently, let’s put a stop to this kind of talk – and to people like her who make such comments, who refuse to de-escalate their spoken words. If we do not hold them accountable, they will garner a following of individuals who will take her literally and, “flip a table or two” at the cost of our community.

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