This is a continuation of a series of stories about the sit-in in Tomson Hall on May 1, 2017
President David Anderson ’74 ended discussion in Tomson 280 when he left the room for the daily chapel service around 10:10 a.m. where Assistant Professor of Art Paul Briggs was scheduled to speak. A Collective for Change on the Hill, the student group leading the movement, noted that they had requested that Briggs move his chapel talk to the Tomson 280 auditorium, but the change wasn’t made.
Organizers of A Collective called for a short self-care and bathroom break for approximately 15 minutes before students would reconvene to discuss the terms of engagement.
When students began discussion again, Athletic Director Ryan Bowles, Vice President for Student Life Greg Kneser and Vice President for Facilities Pete Samberg were the only members of the President’s Leadership Team who remained in Tomson 280.
Kneser spoke briefly about his privilege as a white man in Northfield and expressed distress about the recent acts of hate speech against Don Williams ’18 and other students of color.
“I’m also mad because Don is my neighbor, and no one does that sh*t in my neighborhood,” Kneser said.
Chapel ended at 10:45 a.m. and Anderson, along with General Council Carl Lehmann ’81 and Assistant to the President for Institutional Diversity Bruce King, returned to the auditorium around 11:15 a.m. Precious Ismail ’17 stressed that Anderson had not yet read the terms of engagement, despite copies being delivered to his office and sent via email.
A Collective leaders Udeepta Chakravarty ’17 and Ismail informed students that they would be going over the terms of engagement with students to get their feedback specifically on the terms. Despite this request, many students spoke about Anderson’s absence and administration’s behavior during the situation. Ismail directed students back to the topic at hand.
The terms of engagement called for the administration to form a team of investigators that would be nominated by both the drafting committee (students of color who drafted the demands and the terms of engagement) and the administration. The team would be charged to “research the topics raised in this list of demands and the Administration’s response to it.” The team would not include members of St. Olaf administration or members of Student Government Association in order to ensure complete autonomy.
Ismail and Chakravarty called for a 30 minute break, during which Anderson and his team would read the terms of engagement and students could eat. During the break, a student called out another student for doing an interview with a local news channel, because the student in question “used the N-word all of the time.”
Expect further updates from the Manitou Messenger throughout the day. Terms of engagement and the list of demands can be found at www.acollectiveforchangeonthehill.com/demands/