Drop the Charges! - UMN Community in Solidarity with DO! - Differences Organized
All of us signing this petition condemn the criminalization of dissent at the University of Minnesota, we are against activist students' arrests and we demand President Eric W. Kaler to drop the charges against the 6 students protesting tuition hikes at the Board of Regents meeting.
On Friday, June 10, 2016, at the University of Minnesota (UMN) during summer break, student group Differences Organized (Do!), along with student, faculty, staff, and community supporters, gathered at the Board of Regents meeting in which the Board voted on a tuition hike for both in-state and out-of-state students.
Do! disrupted the Board of Regents meeting in order to express our dissent to the vote on tuition increases and to advance several demands:
1. Treat College Education as a Public Good
2. Immediate Free Tuition for American Indian Students
3. President Kaler’s Immediate Resignation
4. Divestment from Black Rock Investment Portfolio
A group of 40-50 supporters participated in the disruption by holding signs, chanting, and calling for the Board of Regents to be held accountable in a forum where historically they have never been accountable to students. During the action, several students proceeded to take turns reading out loud Do!’s demands. Rather than engage the students, the Board of Regents responded by arresting six students who were holding a banner that read, “Nothing about us without us, is for us.”
The Board of Regents recessed during the action. A rally outside of Macnamara Alumni Center ensued following the arrest and release of the six students, who were cited for violating the University’s Student Conduct Code, formally banned from the building for a year, charged by the City Attorney with trespassing, unlawful assembly, and disorderly conduct, and fined $200. The Board of Regents reconvened later that day and the tuition increase was voted on and passed to the great disappointment and sorrow of many.
What does it mean to arrest poor and working class students for exercising their freedom of speech and demanding a halt to tuition hikes which are already pushing many of them out of higher education? What does it mean when the City Attorney fines financially-strapped students an additional $200 for voicing their concerns over not being able to pay for the education? These tuition hikes disproportionately affect low-income/working class students who already face multiple barriers to success at the University of Minnesota— a predominantly white institution rooted in a history of colonialism, patriarchy, and capitalism. Do! continuously rejects the Board’s decision to increase tuition and instead urges the UMN to adhere to the coalition’s demands.
Please, contribute for the payment of Do!'s legal fees at www.youcaring.com/differencesorganized
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