The University of Pittsburgh's Daily Student Newspaper

The Pitt News

The University of Pittsburgh's Daily Student Newspaper

The Pitt News

The University of Pittsburgh's Daily Student Newspaper

The Pitt News

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New York Knicks forward Precious Achiuwa (5) shoots over Philadelphia 76ers guard Kelly Oubre Jr., rear, in red, during the first half of an NBA basketball game in New York on Sunday, March 10, 2024. (AP Photo/Peter K. Afriyie)
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Opinion | Do not arrest peaceful protesters
By Livia LaMarca, Assistant Opinions Editor • May 23, 2024

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New York Knicks forward Precious Achiuwa (5) shoots over Philadelphia 76ers guard Kelly Oubre Jr., rear, in red, during the first half of an NBA basketball game in New York on Sunday, March 10, 2024. (AP Photo/Peter K. Afriyie)
Column | Former Villanova fanatic watches “Nova Knicks” take down Sixers in NBA Playoffs
By Aidan Kasner, Sports Editor • May 23, 2024
Opinion | Do not arrest peaceful protesters
By Livia LaMarca, Assistant Opinions Editor • May 23, 2024

Protest outside of Chancellor’s Residence calls for wage equity, Palestinian justice

A+protester+speaks+in+front+of+the+Chancellor%E2%80%99s+Residence+at+a+protest+against+Chancellor+Joan+Gabel+on+Saturday.
Bhaskar Chakrabarti | Staff Photographer
A protester speaks in front of the Chancellor’s Residence at a protest against Chancellor Joan Gabel on Saturday.

A group of about 35 students and community members gathered outside the Chancellor’s Residence on Devonshire Street to protest a variety of issues on April 6.

The protest covered a range of topics, including Pitt’s endowment, graduate healthcare, calls for justice in Palestine and wage theft. About 12 police officers were stationed around the lawn and down the street during the protest. According to the protest flier, students rallied against Chancellor Joan Gabel’s alleged “complicity in genocide, ecocide, community destruction and wage theft.”

The University declined to comment. 

Alex Weiner, who is a part-time instructor in the math department, raised concerns about what they claimed was Pitt’s lack of funding for trans healthcare for graduate student workers. Weiner called for Pitt to take action to reverse the downgrades to graduate workers’ healthcare in August 2023 and recalled past College Republicans and Turning Point USA events.

“Pitt only cares about their profits,” Weiner said. “The University has refused to fund trans healthcare on campus despite years of protest and calls. Instead, they fund speakers like Candace Owens, speakers like Michael Knowles who called for the eradication of ‘transgenderism.’”

Last March, Student Government Board clarified that the Michael Knowles event was not funded by the Student Activity Fee, and University spokesperson Jared Stonesifer previously confirmed that the University did not give College Republicans any money for their speaker events. However, Turning Point chapter President Liliana Orozco said the James O’Keefe event in November of 2023 was funded with the $25,000 in SGB allocation money the chapter received.

Protesters gather across the street from the Chancellor’s Residence to protest Chancellor Joan Gabel on Saturday.

As a part of the “Year of Discourse and Dialogue,” the University addressed its policies on free speech and speakers allowed on campus. 

As a public university, we also uphold the principles of protected speech and expression and acknowledge that legally protected speech and expression can at times offend and marginalize some members of our community and contradict unwavering university values,” the statement on Pitt’s free speech page said.

Matt Jurich, a sophomore political science and philosophy major, said the amount of money Gabel makes compared to professors, staff, faculty and graduate students is unfairly disproportionate. Gabel started her tenure with a base salary of $950,000, a 36% increase from previous chancellor Patrick Gallagher’s salary.

“It’s obvious [Joan Gabel] sees [the University] as a business, because she is not different than any other of the capitalist pigs out there,” Jurich said. “I see Joan Gabel as just the same as Jeff Bezos [and] Elon Musk.”

The University declined to comment. 

Sophomore law, criminal justice and society major Mia Suwaid shifted the focus of the protest to the increasing violence in Gaza and alleged that Pitt is complicit.

“The University of Pittsburgh is complicit in funding this brutal occupation that has subjugated Palestinians for the last 75 years,” Suwaid said.

Weiner criticized Pitt’s partnerships with Israeli universities like Ben-Gurion University, which Pitt has a data mining and cybersecurity summer program with, and with Tel Aviv University, which Pitt has a study abroad program relationship with. 

“Pitt is complicit through its partnership with Israeli universities,” Weiner said. “You can travel to Tel Aviv University, all on stolen land, and you can get Pitt credit.” 

Protesters gather across the street from the Chancellor’s Residence to protest Chancellor Joan Gabel on Saturday. (Bhaskar Chakrabarti | Staff Photographer )

Cameryn Gray, a junior history major and member of Students for International Labor Solidarity at Pitt, spoke about Pitt’s relationship to the Hong Seng wage theft. They argued that it violates Pitt’s supplier code of conduct to stay in business with Nike, who are reportedly mistreating and underpaying their factory workers. 

“The University of Pittsburgh is specifically complicit in this wage theft and refuses to speak up or take action,” Gray said. “Having knowledge of this wage theft and not terminating the licensing contract is a complete violation of Pitt’s supplier code of conduct that calls for the compliance of our suppliers, as well as our suppliers’ suppliers to adhere to local and international labor standards.”

Gray mentioned the high salaries of high-profile Pitt staff members when discussing the amount of money factory workers are reportedly owed.

“The Pitt administration would rather have merchandise than push Nike to pay workers the wages they are owed almost four years later,” Gray said. “Joan Gabel and football coach Pat Narduzzi could pay the workers the entire 800k with a fraction of their yearly salary.”

About 12 police officers were stationed around the lawn and down the street during the protest, which Khan mentioned while speaking. 

“It says something about the character of Joan Gabel that she’s gotta have all these weirdos out here, standing around her house looking like gargoyles,” Khan said. “I mean, really, what do you think we’re gonna do, throw milk cartons at her windows?”

Police encircle the Chancellor’s Residence during a protest against Chancellor Joan Gabel on Saturday. (Bhaskar Chakrabarti | Staff Photographer )

About the Contributor
Patrick Diana, Staff Writer