February 11, 2015

13 University of Minnesota Students Arrested in Sit-In

On February 9th, University of Minnesota students affiliated with the student organization Whose Diversity?, an organization dedicated to fighting institutional oppression, were arrested after executing a sit-in in UMN president Eric Kaler's office. The students, a small delegation of 16, were part of a larger protest of over 50 students who marched on Morrill Hall, the administration building at UMN - Twin Cities, demanding that UMN be held accountable on their declarations of diversity in the face of department cuts and discriminatory policies.

The student delegation made their way into the hall as the protest raged outside. After the building closed at 6:00 PM, the students were issued citations by police. 13 students were arrested on trespassing charges, and banned from entering Morrill Hall for a year. Whose Diversity? was able to bail the students out, however they weren't released until early the next morning. The students' court date is on February 24th at 8:30 AM.

The protests have heated up over the last year, in particular around the Chicano Studies department. Last semester 8 Whose Diversity? and UMN - SDS members were handed disciplinary letters for their roles in leading protests on campus.

The protesters eight demands are listed below:

1. Provide the support necessary to help the Department of Chicano & Latino Studies thrive by renewing the senior full-time faculty line, increasing the outreach coordinator’s position from 50% to 100% time, and hiring two more faculty in the next year with one additional faculty hire each year until the department reaches at least eight faculty.
2. Remove descriptions of race and complexion from UMPD [U of MN Police Department] crime alerts.
3. Reverse the decision to close PsTL [Post Secondary Teaching and Learning] by the 2016-2017 academic year.
4. Initiate a cluster hire of faculty of color as per the proposal put forth in 2014 by the Consortium for the Study of Race, Indigeneity, Gender and Sexuality (RIGS).
5. Establish a program that recruits high school students from working-class neighborhoods of color in the Twin Cities.
6. Require all students to take at least one class offered in one of the three ethnic studies departments (African American and African Studies, Chicano and Latino Studies, American Indian Studies) or the Asian American Studies Program.
7. Ensure at least one restroom in every building on campus is accessible to all genders.
8.  Remove language from the admissions application that questions prospective students about their prior convictions and criminal offenses, as well as their history of expulsion, suspension, and probation in their former institutions.