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Students shut down U of MN board of regents meeting

6 arrested at protest demanding greater access to university
By Martin Branyon |
June 16, 2016
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U of MN students shutdown board of regents meeting.
U of MN students shutdown board of regents meeting. (Fight Back! News / Staff)

Minneapolis, MN - On June 10, around 20 students, faculty and community members shut down the University Of Minnesota board of regents summer budgetary meeting. The action was in protest of tuition hikes and the failure of the university to address the needs of marginalized and working-class students.

About three minutes into the meeting, students stormed the regents’ platform and occupied the space that the meeting was being conducted in. They chanted slogans such as “No tuition! Open admission!” and “Whose university? Our university!” In between chants, students gave speeches explaining the need for the action.

The activists’ demands included no tuition increases, with a plan to make tuition free over the next five years; an immediate tuition exemption for all American Indian students; the removal of university President Eric Kaler; and immediate divestment from the Black Rock Investment Portfolio.

The activists stated that these demands were presented because the regents do not represent the student body at the University of Minnesota or the community at large. The students demanded that the regents listen to the students, hear their demands and act accordingly.

After around 20 minutes the regents and the police ordered the activists to leave or face arrest. Six students refused to cede the space back to the regents and were arrested and detained by campus police for around an hour and a half before being released with misdemeanor charges.

Max Franz, Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) member and Differences Organized organizer, stated that the board of regents response was “a shining example of how the U views the wishes of the working class and marginalized student - in the back of a squad car.” He added that it is important for students, faculty and community members to “keep disrupting their [the regents] daily routines because their daily routines represent violence against those who do not hold economic/social privileges.”

After the action, around 40 students, faculty and community members rallied outside of the McNamara Center to raise issues facing the university and surrounding communities. Members of the student groups Whose Diversity?, Students for a Democratic Society, Asian American and Pacific Islanders for Equity and Diversity and the queer, feminist, and non-white cultural centers on campus gave speeches on how the tuition hikes and campus culture imposed by the administration is antagonistic to students.

The action was organized and carried out by members and allies of the Differences Organized (DO!) Coalition. Do! Is a coalition of more than 15 progressive student groups at the University of Minnesota and the state at large. Its goal is to raise the voices and promote the collective agenda of working-class people who are multiply marginalized and underrepresented in the university community.