Thursday, March 20, 2014

Press Release: Morality of Student Loans/Debt?

University YMCA Hosts A Visit With Thomas Gokey Of Strike Debt

[Champaign-Urbana, IL., April 3-4, 2014] Since last fall, the Illinois Student Senate (ISS) of the University of Illinois has been pursuing comprehensive reform of the federal loan system, raising awareness and educating students. Involved in the Student Debt Awareness week last fall, members of the University YMCA's Student Board were moved by student debt stories to get involved and support organizing efforts.  

"Debt is an issue that effects all students today.  Weighed down by student loans and the fear of growing debt, students are having to plan careers around short term futures over long-term futures, pursuing money categorically over pursuing passions," says University YMCA Student Board Member Paul Dolmon. "It's debilitating to our futures and the future of principled and ethical leadership in our country. What's missing is a clear articulation of an affordable alternative and what steps students can take." 

The University YMCA's Student Board represents 13 student programs of the University YMCA, who connect campus to community around growing concerns of social justice, faith, global engagement, and environmental protection. Seemingly disparate groups are collaborating to continue to raise awareness; what has initially come of this collaboration is a campus and community visit with Thomas Gokey of Strike Debt. 

Artist, educator, and organizer Thomas Gokey is visiting Champaign-Urbana for two days to talk about questioning the production of debt and the work towards building a global debt resistance movement. 

On the Thursday night at the University YMCA, Gokey will give a talk on questioning the morality of paying back student loans; and the steps students can take towards a surprisingly affordable and practical alternative. 
On Friday at noon, he will talk about the Rolling Jubilee, a project of Strike Debt which purchases and abolishes debt for pennies on the dollar.  He will talk about how we can create new bonds of cooperation to meet our basic needs.

"Is It Moral To Pay Back Your Student Loans?"Thursday, April 3 at 7PM
Latzer Hall at the University YMCA
1001 S. Wright, Champaign

"Dreaming Beyond the Rolling Jubilee"Towards a Debt Strike and Global Jubilee"
Friday, April 4 at 12 Noon
Latzer Hall at the University YMCA
1001 S. Wright, Champaign

BIO: Thomas Gokey currently lives in Chattanooga, Tennessee. Before that, he was an adjunct professor at Syracuse University. Gokey has an MFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and is currently a PhD candidate at the EGS in Saas-Fee, Switzerland. Recent projects include the LibraryFarm, a collective farm on public land in upstate NY; GutenbAAAAARG, a DIY pirate printing press; and the Rolling Jubilee, a project of Strike Debt which purchases pennies on the dollar. Strike Debt is an offshoot of Occupy Wall Street which seeks to build a global debt resistance movement. 

This lecture is a part of the Spring 2014 Friday Forum lecture series, Rethinking Security: Community Approaches to Economic Development. For more information on each lecture, visit: 

Additional Information: The views expressed by the speakers do not necessarily reflect the views of the University YMCA, co-sponsors, or the Friday Forum committee. All Friday Forums are free and open to the public. A sign language interpreter is available with a 72 hour notice (contact Carol at All Friday Forum lectures are rebroadcasted at 6pm on WEFT 90.1 the Monday following the lecture. Video recorded lectures can be found at the University YMCA's Friday Forum page.

SPONSORED BY: University YMCA, Wesley United Methodist Church, Wesley Foundation at the U of I, Institute of Genomic Biology, Center for Advanced Study, Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Resource Center, Center for Business and Public Policy, Russ Rybicki, AIF, of Progressive Asset Management Group, the Socially Responsible Division of Financial West Group, Member FINRA/SIPC Nancy Dietrich, Graduate Employees Organization, Dept of Recreation, Sport, and Tourism, International Programs and Studies, Prairie Research Institute, College of Agricultural, Consumer, and Environmental Sciences, Social Action Committee of the Unitarian Universalist Church, Asian American Cultural Center, Dept of Urban and Regional Planning, Chapel of St. John the Divine, Dept of Latina/Latino Studies, Dept of Sociology, College of Nursing, Dept of French, Dept of Political Science, C-U Branch of AAUW, Channing Murray Foundation, Urbana Champaign Friends Meeting, Jobs with Justice andThe Office of Public Engagement and The Office of Diversity, Equity, and Access at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, and the Department of African American Studies, First Mennonite Church.

Press Release
For Immediate Release 
March 20, 2014

For Media Inquiries, contact: Megan Flowers, University Y Communications Director 


Tuesday, March 4, 2014

TUTORING AT THE Y: A Tool for Social Justice

Laura Gallagher remembers the looks on those kindergartner faces as she read them the book "Is There Really A Human Race?" Exploring the literal meaning of "human race" in the book reminded Laura that kids see and hear more than they let on. At the end of the book, the boy's mother tells him that it is up to us to help each other and show compassion for all--after all, wouldn't it be better for everyone to win the race? 

For Laura, that's the power of community to bring diverse adult perspectives that enrich children's lives--socially and academically. As a University YMCA VIS-A-VIS tutor, Laura brings that vital component of community to the classroom.

The University YMCA's Volunteers In Schools, A Vital Service Student Program, better known as VIS-A-VIS has been providing opportunities for enthusiastic and dedicated University of Illinois students to tutor children one-on-one or be a classroom aide in the local Champaign-Urbana elementary, middle, and high schools for over 30 years. I missed being around other people outside of my age group," said Laura, VIS-A-VIS volunteer and Student Board member. Laura found the University Y's Vis-A-Vis tutoring group to be a good opportunity to have that quality time with children that she missed during her volunteering time in high school.

"I think VIS-A-VIS is one of the most important tutoring resources for teachers in Champaign-Urbana," says Brandon Rutherford, 3rd grade science teacher at Garden Hills Elementary in Champaign, Illinois. 

Volunteer tutor spends quality time 
with Mr. Brandon Rutherford's students.
Mr. Rutherford is a 3rd grade Science teacher 

at Garden Hills Elementary School in Champaign.
Brandon says that teachers are always actively looking for help in the classroom, for those diverse perspectives that just one adult can't simply bring to fully enrich every child's life in their classrooms. The VIS-A-VIS tutoring program uniquely aides teachers in their pursuits for help by offering placements for enthusiastic student volunteers, including pre-service teachers who need that vital classroom time, in virtually every subject.

Mr. Rutherford reminds us that you don't need teaching experience. You don't need experience with children. You need a smile on your face and the willingness to have a boatload of fun. VIS-A-VIS tutors bring the fun. Learn more about the VIS-A-VIS Volunteer Tutoring Program and other student programs of the University YMCA at

Monday, March 3, 2014


Creating dynamic change in our communities while developing tomorrow's cause driven leaders. That's what you'll find everyday behind the doors of the University YMCA. Invest in the work of our students with your membership donation and you'll become an important part of the socially responsible change that our students create. Through cause driven leadership development, scholarship support, campus-community connections, and public dialogues, the University Y addresses and supports causes most important to our communities.

Students provide the passion, the desire, the ingenuity, and the innovation. The YMCA brings the opportunity, the space, the knowledge, and the support services. For hundreds of students, the important first step to cause driven leadership is the opportunity to discover the causes that spark their passion Through the Y, students are exposed to social justice issues, environmental concerns, interfaith initiatives, and global awareness.

Last year, over 752 YMCA Student Group members volunteered 21,690 hours in 19 different communities. It's because of your generous support that the University YMCA continues to launch generations of young leaders from our historic building. Learn more about our students and their causes and the University YMCA's role in their development at And while you are there, consider giving your annual gift to the University YMCA. Now that you know how much we are, please join our cause.