Our Opinion: Walk-Out Well Organized
More than 200 students and faculty staged a walk-out on the Quadrangle Tuesday. Those who protested did so in front of the administration building and later conducted a six-hour sit-in inside of the administration building. The protesters congregated together to voice their concerns via megaphone about College Dean Forman’s department changes announced in mid-september. The group demanded a meeting with University President James W. Wagner, who eventually agreed to, what would become, a three hour meeting. By the meeting’s conclusion, Wagner and Forman, who was put on speakerphone, agreed to a public meeting, which will happen today (Friday) at 5 p.m.
We find the protest successful in its organized efforts. The national and local media coverage was exceptional, and the protesters successfully arranged a meeting with Wagner. The overall energy of the protest was orderly, and in general, stayed focused on the issue at hand. For example, when an unknown and uninformed group showed up to join the protest, students of the Student Re-Visioning Committee asked the agitators to leave. Students also took votes at various points during the sit-in to decide the next course of action. In this way, a democratic process allowed the group, not a select few, to drive the course of the sit-in. Of course, there were some distractions during the sit-in, but overall we found the protest effective. We encourage future protests to be conducted in the same manner.
We also applaud the administration for how they handled the unexpected sit-in. The last time students forcibly occupied the fourth floor of the administration building, they were given a deadline and threatened with arrest if they stayed past said deadline. On Tuesday, administrators allowed students to stay on the fourth floor, and we are glad that police force wasn’t used. Additionally, we are glad that Wagner agreed to meet with the group and devoted a serious amount of time to the meeting (three hours).
We do, though, have questions about what exactly protesters hoped and still hope to achieve. Are they asking for the department changes to be fully withdrawn or for the departments that are being cut to somehow maintain a presence on campus? Regardless, we hope that Wagner and Forman are fully forthcoming and honest at the meeting later this afternoon and that the University does not lose sight of the importance of a liberal arts education.
The above staff editorial represents the majority opinion of the Wheel’s editorial board.