To clarify, the thirteen demonstrators who were arrested were all offered a deal from the Minneapolis City Attorney wherein our charges would dropped if we were not arrested for similar actions in the following year. While this deal might seem very good on the surface, it troubled many of the collective as it would put us under very close scrutiny and thus silence us by deterring us from protesting again for year. On top of that, if we violated the terms of this agreement, we would have to face this charge again on top of the new charge. However, in order to move on from this and focus our energy on continuing to work on our movement, we collectively decided to take the deal. We are thankful for this opportunity, but are still troubled by the University’s overall actions to have us arrested and jailed for demonstrating peacefully on our own campus. As we move forward, we hope that the administration will reflect on their actions and push toward more peaceful and egalitarian actions toward students who are working so hard for the more just and equitable campus climate that they were promised.
During the time between our sit-in and our court date, a number of changes have occurred in the University. First, Dean Coleman of the College of Liberal Arts (CLA), announced the approval of four new faculty hires for the Race, Indigeneity, Gender, and Sexuality (RIGS) Consortium. Importantly, one of these faculty is to be appointed in Chicano and Latino Studies as a replacement for the former chair, Louis Mendoza who departed last May. Furthermore, yesterday, we saw some movement in how the administration is addressing the use of racial and complexion descriptors in UMPD crime alerts. While we feel that these are steps in the right direction, they do not meet our demands and are only crumbs. The decision to give four faculty to RIGS does not guarantee that Chicano and Latino Studies will receive any more faculty, and thus shows that the administration is not invested in seeing the department thrive. We need more faculty in Chicano and Latino Studies and also a commitment to re-employ the community outreach coordinator to full-time status. In terms of UMPD crime alerts, this reform does not adequately address concerns raised by students of color. According to the University’s own estimations, it would have been appropriate to use racial and complexion descriptors in approximately 70% of the crime alerts issued since 2012. In sum, these actions are not enough!
On the other hand, although we hesitate to take complete credit for the changes that have come to light in the last couple of weeks, we are upset that the University has completely erased and negated the role that Whose Diversity? and other student-led organizations have played in making both of these actions come to fruition. All statements from the University have pointed to the hard work and strategic planning of the administration as the impetus for the recent developments. We are not negating the fact that the administration has undoubtedly worked hard to make these things happen, but we simply disagree that our efforts and the efforts of campaigns such as Solidarity con Chicano and Latino Studies and Report the Crime Alerts had nothing to do with them because, in the words of Frederick Douglass, “Power concedes nothing without demand.” We believe that it is ultimately the work of the community that made these and other changes possible.
While the invisible labor of Whose Diversity? and our committed supporters may go unrecognized and unappreciated by the University and other outside entities, we want you all to know that we see it, recognize it, and appreciate it. Your labor and love continues to fuel us in our work toward making this university a safer and more transformative place for students, staff, faculty, and, yes, the communities it is supposed to serve. Thank you all again for your support and for being with us in the movement. As Assata Shakur so boldly and beautifully reminds us, “It is our duty to fight for our freedom. It is our duty to win. We must love each other and support each other. We have nothing to lose but our chains.”