Students and Strikes

I’m sitting and writing this in Mme Ilboudo’s faculty office in what they call the Cité. This is a part of campus that used to be the university student housing. The student cafeteria is still here, as is a guest house for visiting professors. But the dorm rooms have been converted into faculty offices. Here’s what one looks like:


Notice the air conditioner. Unlike in the classrooms, this one isn’t just for ornamentation. It makes being in here on a hot day a lot more inviting. Here’s the gateway and the next building over:

Office exterior

Nice place, huh? As dorms go. Students used to live here, until last year when they made “too much trouble”, says Mme Ilboudo. I can imagine the sort of trouble they got into, especially since last year was the year of the overthrow of Compaoré. So last year, the university decided to move the students to a different dorm. But not on campus. They are now housed about 10 km from here, over on the other side of town. I should say there is still a dorm on campus, for students with families. It looks pretty seedy but lots of Ouaga apartment buildings look seedy and at least it is on campus, close to services.

And the students are not happy. They are complaining about a bunch of things but the biggest deal is the rent, apparently, or at least that’s what I got from sitting in on a meeting with the Director of Sciences Humaines. Students are complaining that now they are being asked for 1,500 CFA a month for a room. That’s about $3 US. A month. I guess it must be the principle. Anyway, there is a rent strike going on, and students have broken down doors to get into rooms that they have been kicked out of for non-payment. The Director is calling for the place to be shut down.

Worse, apparently, the students are also upset because they haven’t gotten all their marks for last years’ exams yet. The reason is that many faculty members haven’t turned in their grades yet. The Director reported that he had fired three professors who hadn’t turned in their grades yet and who had some additional black marks on their records. Also, he took Mme Ilboudo to task, in a very polite Burkinabé way, for not being able to get her department faculty to turn in their grades. I was wondering how faculty here can grade 3,000 exams at once, and here is my answer. They don’t. I did ascertain that faculty are being paid their salaries, which is something.

If I were the students, I’d be upset too.

I finished translating my PowerPoints up through the Civil War and went and printed them off at Mme Ilboudo’s office. There are now about 300 pages of stuff for the students to photocopy if they want. Mme Ilboudo suggested that I divide it into three packages so it won’t seem so much, because if they are complaining about a 1500 CFA/month rent they really aren’t going to like 4500 CFA to copy all that paper. Don’t want them going on strike against the American guy too. So I broke it up by months. So here’s my program for Intro to US History:

October: pre-Columbian up through the Revolutionary War, ending with my ancestor George Mills.

November: Constitution through Jackson and “The Age of Revival and Reform”

December: Up to the Civil War

First half of January: Civil War. I might add Reconstruction.

(and not yet done)

Rest of January: 19th century

February: Progressive Era and WWI, 1920s

March: New Deal and origins of WW2, Crisis

April: WW2 and aftermath, Cold War, American High

May: 1960s-80s, Awakening and Decline

June: Contemporary, new Crisis era?

It’s sure going to be quick. Already wondering how I’m going to fit stuff into the time provided.

My exam will be about April 15th, and I will damn sure get my grades turned in before I leave.

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