Discussion continues; Drafting Committee breaks to make revisions

This is a continuation of a series of articles about the sit-in in Tomson Hall on May 1, 2017

Students reconvened from their break at 12:08 p.m. President Anderson and part of his Leadership Team entered the room around 12:10 p.m.

A Collective for Change on the Hill leaders Precious Ismail ’17 and Udeepta Chakravarty ’17 announced that they would allow the president fifteen minutes to address his concerns about their terms of engagement. Anderson’s biggest critique was about the tone of the document and suggested that the students change the name “terms of engagement” because of its military connotations.

Ismail stated that the Drafting Committee (members of A Collective who drafted the terms of engagement and the demands) had no intentions of changing their tone.

“We will not be changing our tone,” Ismail said. “[Anderson has] stated that this is not how partners work. Up until now, [Anderson has] not been treating us as partners.”

Anderson reiterated that he wanted a cooperative solution moving forward.

“The win for everybody today is to have some agreement going forward,” he said. “That’s the win for you [and] it’s franky the win for me, so let’s go through it.”

Some debate surrounded part two of the terms of engagement, which stated “The Administration will pass on the list of demands to the Board of Regents and make public their correspondence with the Board of Regents. The Administration will provide the space and time for the drafting committee to meet with the Board of Regents in person.”

A Collective called for transparency during Board meetings so that all students could be involved in the change process, but Anderson noted that it would be unlikely for the Board to agree to livestream their meetings. He cited how very few colleges have a transparent Board of Regents.

“‘The meeting should be open to the public and streamed online’… that’s just not going to happen. Boards of Regents meetings aren’t public meetings,” Anderson said.

There are some public universities with structures in place to make their Board meetings more transparent. The University of Wisconsin System, for example, livestreams their Board meetings and publishes full minutes. The University of Minnesota also published videos and minutes from their meetings.

Students expressed their gratitude towards Anderson for meeting with them, but noted that he still hadn’t expressed the empathy they are looking for.

“The fact that you’ve actually taken the time to read through this … means that you’re taking this seriously. We appreciate that,” a student in the audience said.

Don Williams ’18, another leader of A Collective, mentioned that administration has not reached out to him since he reported the hate speech directed towards him last week.

“The last time I heard from them was when I turned in the note, and I haven’t heard from them yet. It’s been a week and one day now,” Williams said.

After an hour-long break during which the Drafting Committee made revisions to the terms of engagement, students gathered again in Tomson 280 to see the revised draft. Krysta Wetzel ’18 announced that it would be another half an hour before the Committee would bring the new draft forward due to unexpected circumstances. During the extended break, students watched a 1995 documentary titled “Can We Talk?” produced by Associate Professor of Theater and Director of Media Studies Bill Sonnega. The documentary addressed racism on St. Olaf’s campus in 1995.

Expect updates from the Manitou Messenger throughout the day. Terms of engagement and a full list of demands can be found at www.acollectiveforchangeonthehill.com/demands/