The List of Demands
A coalition of Saint Mary's students and faculty began a civil and silent protest on March 17, 2010 during community time. Students from different backgrounds came together to slate ten demands for the Administration to respond to. They began in front of the Chapel processed through the common areas of campus, through a question and answer session held for prospective students and their families, and to the Office of Saint Mary's President Ron Gallagher. The group of demonstrators call this protest “Our Struggle Is Tied With Yours.” The Transfers followed the events through on-campus discussions. negotiation meetings, The Lounge events, Tent City and finally a resolution.
~March 17, 2010
Supporters gathered and marched through campus during community time. I was in Ferroggiaro Quad while students and supporters lined the perimeter of the dining area. They were wearing red and had black taper covering their mouths. Some had painted their faces white. I (Noe) heard some students chortle and some say it looked scary but not many knew why the students were doing this. Some demonstrators held signs with their demands.
~March 22, 2010
I ran into a professor and wanted to ask about the use of some of her pictures from the protest. We had not decided on the protest as one of our projects but we realized it was more viable than documenting the Sustainability Council. From her I heard that after I saw the protesters in the quad that they had processed into a Q&A session for prospective students and their families. Michael Beseda was answering questions right when the demonstrators walked in. I can imagine it must have startled some of the visitors, which is why (I speculate) they made that one of their stops. She said that he gracefully turned it into an opportunity to highlight the diligence students have to social justice and the opportunities they have to express themselves.
~March 24, 2010
Today during community time there was a panel discussion for the community to ask questions with the members of "Our Struggle." I met Scotch there and he filmed and took photos. It started with a reiteration of the ten points and then there were some ground rules established before a discussion started. They were pretty basic rules; Respect opinions of difference, do not interrupt, be polite, create a safe space. After about the third question some members of the audience began interrupting and one student stood up with a flag of Jesus as soon as a reproductive rights came up. I had to leave for a meeting but rumor has it that some rude dialogue occurred.
~April 15, 2010
The Lounge. The diversity clubs on campus got together and decided that a space was needed for creative expression so the Lounge was born. One Thursday night a month people gather in Hagerty Lounge to present pieces that reflect their perspectives on what they are learning where they are coming from and society as a whole. On this night there were record numbers in attendance. The energy was there and we all knew this was not like the past lounges. The members of Our Struggle got up and announced they were preparing a hunger strike due to the lack of conversation with the Administration. They also amended the tenth demand to include the resignation of Lewis Lebherz who is alleged to have engaged in an act of intolerance toward a student.
~April 16, 2010
I was on my way to a meeting with Shawny when Randy (a key coordinator in Our Struggle) asked me if I was on my way to the Campus Committee for Inclusive Excellence (CCEI) meeting to discuss the issues. I had been searching everywhere to find our when and where this meeting was taking place so I was stoked. After a brief meeting with Shawny I headed over to Galileo 113. There was a full house with a group of students clustered at one end of the table. There were refreshments of coffee, tea, fruit and donuts served. This observation struck me because the ten demands were going to be discussed in order to avoid a hunger strike or the hunger strike would not happen since it was to be a catalyst for this conversation about to be had. There was paperwork compiled that addressed each demand and in neat tables highlighted the actions being taken to address it and the people in charge of that action. It was very thorough. The energy in the room was a mix. Some professors looked a little annoyed but most were very attentive and patient when hearing what the students had to say. I had to leave to go to class but after my class I ran into one of the committee members who said the meeting just got out. She said it got a little emotional but all in all it served its purpose. As of that moment the hunger strike was still going to happen.
~April 19, 2010
There are tents on the chapel lawn and people are wondering whats with the kids on the grass. Looks like the community wide conversation is starting.
~April 22, 2010
The hunger strike has changed to a fast until sundown. I ran into Jamie (another key coordinator) and she said that because the necessary conversations were being had they would not take those drastic measures. There is a fire pit, a table with stock piles of food and tents! It is affectionately known as Tent City.
~April 23, 2010
I spoke with Brother Ron this morning and he said the tents were coming down today. So I was not as surprised when around 12:45 everyone gathered in front of the statue of De LaSalle to bid farewell to Tent City.After the open mike portion Beth Dobkin stood up and with Our Struggle signed the amended list of demands. Many people were blown away that there would really be some small form of gender neutral housing, others did not care. The gathering ended with clapping that mimicked the rhythm of a heartbeat and a message that the struggle still was not over.
~May 5, 2010
There was a discussion in front of the Student Union today between those in support of Our Struggle and those who were either in opposition or hesitant listeners of the movement. It was pretty heated when I left for my meeting but when I came back there were less people and more dialogue than debate. At one point it became obvious that the issue at hand (Seminar text selection) was a topic which both sides agreed on. By the time I left I heard murmurs that this was exactly the "open and ever evolving" dialogue Our Struggle was hoping to initiate.