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Socialists hit the bricks to protest U.S. tax bill

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Protestors outside the Court House protest the proposed U.S. Tax Bill. Photo by Cole Behrens

A protest Thursday by the International Socialist Organization against the proposed U.S. House tax bill had to move slightly away from the courthouse steps after an unexpected run in with Santa.

A protest in opposition to the U.S. House tax bill was held outside the Athens County Courthouse on Thursday evening, organized by the International Socialist Organization (ISO).

ISO is protesting the bill because it plans to include tuition waivers, which is how graduate students are compensated for their work at Ohio University, as taxable income.

Elliot Long, Co-president of the Graduate Employee Organization and doctorate student in the interdisciplinary arts, spoke during the protest and claimed the bill unfairly targets graduate students. Long also spoke out against Ohio U’s treatment of graduate employees.

“We as graduate student employees never see this money…counting tuition waivers as earned income would devastate graduate students, particularly out-of-state graduate students,” Long said.

Santa crashed an ISO protest. Photo by Cole Behrens
The protest was forced to move slightly to the left of the courthouse because the area outside the courthouse was double-booked with the unrelated “Uptown for the Holidays 2017” event. Photo by Cole Behrens

“Graduate employees are poorly paid, receiving stipends here at Ohio University that are much lower than what graduate employees receive at comparable universities.”

Long claimed that the average out-of-state graduate student earns $13,100 in tuition stipends and must also pay as much as $2,000 for medical insurance.  

Long also stated that if the proposed tax bill were to pass, the average graduate student would have to pay nearly $2,500 in taxes to the federal government. The average graduate student currently pays $138 in federal taxes, according to Long.

Claire Eder, a graduate student in creative writing at Ohio U, also spoke out against the tax bill.

“If our tuition waivers become taxable income, only a few people would have the financial resources to pursue fields like mine, and our art will suffer,” Eder said.  

Reverend Ryan Evans of the United Campus Ministry also spoke at the event and urged others to resist the tax bill.

“I believe that budgets should be moral documents and should reflect our highest and best principles; equality, justice, compassion, and attention to the plight and needs of our most vulnerable,” Evans said.

The protest was forced to move slightly to the left of the courthouse because the area outside the courthouse was double-booked with the unrelated “Uptown for the Holidays 2017” event, which meant that the protest was graced with a surprise visit from Santa Claus himself.

Tyler Barton of the ISO said that the protestors had no knowledge that the protest site would also be the area where children were meeting with Santa.

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