Comment from the 9/18 Board of Trustees Meeting by Christina Gomez

Many thanks to Christina for making this public comment at the Board of Trustees last week.

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Board of Trustees Meeting – September 2014

Thank You. My name is Christina Gomez. I am a professor of Sociology, Women & Gender Studies, currently serving as Coordinator of the Latino and Latin American Studies Program.

Happy Hispanic Heritage Month.

I come to you today as a member of NEIU’s family. A familia that I feel very proud to be part of.

When I first heard about the building of the NEIU residences, I was excited. I believe that residence halls can be a good experience for some students. However, once learning about the specifics and how our neighbors, some who are NEIU alums, would be affected by the building of “University Village,” I had to reevaluate.

As part of our Strategic mission we state that the University will “work collaboratively with educational, social service, governmental, and business institutions in Chicago and the region to build upon NEIU’s tradition of community involvement.” Forcing our neighbors to vacate their properties against their will is not what NEIU stands for – it is not the way to treat family members. Evicting our neighbors out does not promote communidad. In fact it drives us apart.

Furthermore it is not clear to me, and many in our community, why these residence halls should take precedence over other very serious issues we are currently facing at NEIU such as declining enrollments, the cancelling of classes, the firing of instructors who have worked at our University and served our students for many years.

Our students, many who are Latino and Latina come from communities that have faced historical and contemporary exclusion, including gentrification. What lesson are we teaching our Latino and other students when we decimate our neighboring community?

So I ask you, the Board of Trustees, to reconsider your position and oppose the use of eminent domain to seize property.

We are a family – a familia. Let’s treat each other with respect and care.

Thank you.