From UMN Solidarity:
March 29, 2011
Students, Faculty, and Community Members Continue Occupation of Social Sciences Tower at the University of Minnesota – Twin Cities
Negotiations with UMN Police Allow Some Occupiers to Stay Overnight
Minneapolis – After occupying the first floor of the Social Sciences Tower on the West Bank of the University of Minnesota Twin Cities campus for ten hours, students and community members were confronted by the University of Minnesota Police Department around 10:15 pm, 45 minutes before the building was supposed to be closed for the night. Police initially insisted that occupiers leave the building, and were not willing to negotiate with the group. However, the UMPD was persuaded to meet and discuss the issue with two occupiers, one of whom was a faculty member. After 40 minutes of negotiations between the two parties, a compromise was made. The police would allow 12 students to stay in the Social Sciences tower over night, but all other occupiers had to leave for the night.
“Ideally, we all would have been allowed to stay overnight,” said Elliot, a member of the South Minneapolis community, “But given the choice between being arrested and completely losing the space, or allowing 12 students to stay and continue the occupation, it was a fairly easy decision for us to make.” In the morning, the other occupiers returned and the space continued to function as it had the day before.
The occupiers have also created a calendar of events that are open to all members of the university and the public. The events, which are listed on their blog, umnsolidarity.wordpress.com, include group meals, a movie night, and workshops. According to Danny, a graduate student, more events are being planned to further spread the message of the occupation and to talk about how the university community can solve the issues that it is facing. “We have been approached by a number of professors who want to bring their classes to the space. So far, it has been really successful for both the classes and the occupation,” he added.
Students, faculty, and community members have been occupying the Social Sciences Tower on the West Bank of the Twin Cities University of Minnesota campus since 1pm on March 28th. Their list of demands is as follows:
“Because we are residents of Minnesota, and because this is a public, land-grant university,
We demand the right to peacefully occupy space at our university,
We demand that the general public has reasonable access to university resources;
We demand that the university respect the rights of all workers to organize and to earn at least a living wage;
We demand tuition and fee reductions;
We demand that regents be democratically elected by the university community;
We demand that the university treat student groups fairly and equitably with respect to funding and space. We demand student groups on the 2nd floor of Coffman Union be able to keep their spaces.
In doing so, we stand in solidarity with the people of Wisconsin, and students and workers worldwide.”
Press Release 3/28/11:
Students and Community Supporters Occupy Social Sciences Tower at University of Minnesota Twin Cities Campus – West Bank
Occupying in Solidarity with Wisconsin Students and Workers and Against University Budget Cuts
Minneapolis – On Monday, March 28th, a group of students and community members have occupied the first floor of the Social Sciences tower on the West Bank of the Twin Cities campus of the University of Minnesota. Following a rally in front of Coffman Memorial Union, participants marched across the East Bank of campus and crossed the Mississippi River onto the West Bank. Students and supporters entered into the first floor of the Social Sciences tower and held an assembly to discuss possible courses of action. Using a democratic process of consensus, protesters decided to hold the space in an open and soft occupation.
Since the occupation is non-violent and open, as of press time the University has not removed the occupiers. However, the University buildings close to the public at 11 pm each night. “We have a solid group of people here who are committed to the occupation, and we are using social media to bring more students and supportive community members to the space,” said undergraduate student Andrew, who has chosen not to give his last name. “We are planning specific events for the space in order to benefit the entire community, which we will be posting on our blog, umnsolidarity.wordpress.com,” added Sara, a U of M student who was forced to take a semester off of school for lack of finances.
Students and community supporters are outraged over soaring tuition, budget cuts, skyrocketing administrative salaries, mounting student debt, attacks on cultural diversity groups on campus, and blatant disregard for workers’ rights across the nation. In light of recent student and worker uprisings around the world, students in the Twin Cities are no longer willing to bear the burdens of the economic crisis while the rich only get richer. Inspired by the actions of students at the University of Wisconsin in Milwaukee, Madison, and other campuses around the state, U of M students are standing up against injustices in their own state and their own university.
Contact: Hallie (612)217-2462, email@example.com