In Support of Cosimo Pori

June 17, 2017

We, The Collective for Change on The Hill, stand with and support Cosimo Pori. We stand in solidarity with them as they were willing to critique the institution of St. Olaf College and the flaws it holds. We came together to promote change and unity within the St. Olaf Community by addressing institutional forms of oppression to marginalized groups on campus. We value the ability to protest and speak out against oppressive powers as a way to call for action but when that ability is withheld from us, it promotes that cyclical power of oppression.

Individuals, especially members of St. Olaf’s “community”, should be able to speak out against Administration and the Institution without being threatened. Raising awareness about the institutional racism that St. Olaf College perpetuates is the change that St. Olaf desperately needs. Cosimo Pori pushed for the awareness of St. Olaf's institutional racism and has been silenced by its Administration. This act of disciplinary action against Cosimo goes against the values that this institution claims it seeks.

St. Olaf College values that “conversation is at the heart of [its] education”, but not everyone at St. Olaf is free to converse. According to St. Olaf College, it wants its students to “develop the ability to listen carefully, argue forcefully, and be the kind of engaged thinker”, but when students such as Cosimo are denied the freedom to speak, we find ourselves in the face of a hypocritical institution. St. Olaf allows for dialogue and conversation to be held within their terms, and we will not stand for that type of hypocrisy.

St. Olaf “strives to be an inclusive community, respecting those of differing backgrounds and beliefs” and the institution has failed to do so. This institution decides to silence those who have spoken out against the “community” it has created. The value of inclusivity that St. Olaf College claims to hold did not include Cosimo’s criticism of St. Olaf’s participation in institutional racism. It is apparent that St. Olaf College and its Administration only seeks "dialogue" between themselves and not the members of the community that their decisions directly affect. In order to dismantle institutional racism in the institution of St. Olaf College, Cosimo participated in valuable forms of dialogue such as protest and freedom of criticism, so The Collective for Change on the Hill supports Cosimo Pori. 

TASK FORCE UPDATE

May 22, 2017

In the second week of May, the Collective invited applications from students of color to be nominees for the Task Force on Institutional Racism. The Collective held open elections to determine the top 5 student applicants. For sake of autonomy, it was decided that no Collective member would be on the Task Force.

The final list of students in our nominee pool are listed below:

  1. Yishu Dai
  2. SuSu Almousa
  3. Atefeh Alavi
  4. Said Alhouseini
  5. Muhammad Lucman

On May 12, 2017, Rosalyn Eaton sent out an email to the student body announcing the "Diversity and Inclusion Initiative." 

By May 16, 2017, we had also received confirmation from two faculty members (Jennifer Kwon Dobbs, Chris Chiappari), one alumni member (Katie Barnes) and one attorney (Tom Fiebiger). 

On May 17, we were scheduled to meet with the President's Leadership Team (PLT) to discuss the membership of the Task Force. Two hours before the meeting Professor Kwon Dobbs withdrew her application. 

President David Anderson and Bruce King were the only members of the PLT at the meeting. We discussed and agreed upon a few amendments to the Terms and Conditions of Negotiations.  

In the meeting we only presented the names of the students, the attorney and the alumni member.  Concerns were raised regarding the alumni member's ability to be present on campus over the summer. 

It was decided that we would reconvene on May 22, 2017 to finalize the task force and that the PLT would send us a list of their own nominees before today. We did not receive any such list.

After May 17, Wednesday, the Collective sought to recruit more faculty and alumni nominees. Our final list of nominees are listed below:

Faculty Members:

  • Chris Chiappari
  • Joan Hepburn
  • Lisa Moore

Students:

  • SuSu Almousa
  • Atefeh Alavi
  • Yishu Dai
  • Muhammad Lucman
  • Said Alhouseini

Attorney:

  • Thomas Fiebiger

Alumni:

  • Katie Barnes
  • Adrian Benjamin
  • Sheridan Blanford

On May 19, 2017, PLT published their initial report on the List of Demands

Today (May 22, 2017) at 9 AM we met with the PLT again (only President David Anderson and Bruce King were present). At the meeting President David Anderson proposed that he would appoint a new committee for a "larger consideration of campus climate." 

PDA's Proposal

PDA's Proposal

After sufficient consideration and deliberation, we decided that this proposal violates the Terms and Conditions of Negotiations and hinders the work of the Task Force. The proposal to establish a committee appointed by the PLT displays a lack of transparency.  

At 12 PM today we reconvened and agreed to the constitution of the Task Force. The President mentioned that he may still consider appointing a separate committee. The Collective will not support any committee that the PLT appoints behind closed doors. 

The PLT agreed that the Task Force will evaluate the Collective's List of Demands, and the PLT's initial report. The Task Force will provide its recommendations to the Administration by September 1, 2017. The newly instituted Task Force will consist of the following individuals:

Chris Chiappari, Co-Chair
Joan Hepburn, Co-Chair
Sheridan Blanford, Alumni Member '15
Tom Fiebiger, '78 Attorney
SuSu Almousa, '19
Yishu Dai, '18
Atefeh Alavi '20
Carl Lehmann '91, PLT member

The Administration has not clarified if it will nominate more external members. Based on the amended Terms and Conditions for Negotiations PLT can nominate at most 2 external members. 

The History of #InSTOtutionalRacism

The Collective is presenting a study on the History of racism at St. Olaf.

"Racism and Change on The Hill, 1874-2017" was sponsored by the Collective. 

This paper is part of our attempt to shift the attention from individual perpetrators of hate crimes and racism to Institutional problems.

We are grateful to Claire Bransky, Udeepta Chakravarty, Camille Garrett, Graham Glennon, Andrew Lee, Pearl McAndrews, Sam Seo and others who have helped in the drafting of this report.

Please Read and Share!!!!!!!!!

PDF HERE

 

RESPONSE TO TODAY’S EMAIL. May 10, 2017

Members of the community and the general public,

On April 29, 2017, a black student found a note on their car which personally addressed and threatened them.

We, the members of The Collective, have learned from an email from the President that this event was “fabricated.” 

This has been a terrible revelation for us, not only because this “fabricated” incident sparked spontaneous solidarity within the entire community, not only because this movement and its unprecedented achievements relied on this spontaneous solidarity, but also because this movement, that occurred in a microcosm of the United States, reflects the resistance of peoples  to the larger issue of systemic racism in this country.

We believed the legitimacy of this incident like many members of the community because of our familiarity of such things happening. We unconditionally condemn such an attempt at fabrication because it questions the legitimacy of our demands for institutional change — reform that has been long overdue.

We call on all the members of the community to understand that the focus of our movement and our List of Demands is on transforming the institution and is necessitated by the alienation of people of color. This “not genuine” incident does not invalidate the experiences of others and it does not invalidate institutional racism.

The Collective stands unified in challenging institutional racism and in seeking institutional change.

#inSTOtutionalRacism Response to BOR meeting

Members of the community and concerned folks,

Since the signing of the Terms and Conditions of Negotiations, the President Leadership Team (PLT) has met with conditions 1 (a).

Today, May 4, 2017, The Collective for Change on The Hill met with the Board of Regents. The Board of Regents consented to our invitation and the meeting was live streamed. The administration has fulfilled conditions 2 (a), (b).

The Agenda of the meeting is outlined below:

  1. Address to the Gathering by the Chair of the Board

  2. Address to the Board of Regents

  3. Statement of Justification for raising the issue of institutional racism

  4. Present the members of the Board with the Document of Support

  5. Feedback and Q&A

Address to the Gathering
Statement of Justification
Uploaded by Nick Larson on 2017-05-05.

The Board of Regents was provided a Document of Support seeking signatures from the members of the Board. The statement of this Document wants members of the Board to "support the legitimacy of the issues raised by The Collective for Change on The Hill and support the initiatives and measures taken by the President’s Leadership Team to address institutional racism." 

We did not receive any signatures. The Chair of the Board acknowledged that “every member of the Board has received that document", but "we’ve not had a chance to review and discuss it.”  Part of their reason to not sign this Document of Support was a unanimous resolution that the Board passed before the meeting. 

The chair of the Board noted that “We believe that the resolution that we passed unanimously, including the cover letter to that memo, addresses everything that you are seeking in the Document of Support.” This is transparently not true. The Resolution does not mention The Collective for Change on The Hill. This resolution does not refer to the PLT signing Terms and Conditions of Negotiations nor does it refer to the constitution of the Task Force.  

President David Anderson sent out an email with the resolution. He said that the "college leaders are committed to move forward in spirit of collaboration to address these important issues." We do not understand what "spirit of collaboration" implies, since the Board refuses to sign the Document of Support, we interpret this message as vague and unconvincing.  

We also collected questions from students, faculty and alumni which we compiled into a document that was presented to the Board. The Chair of the Board, on account of shortage of time and other commitments of the members, said that “we would prefer not to address those at the present time”. The Chair did not promise to respond to these questions in the future.  

We appreciate the Resolution, but unfortunately it does not represent the contents nor does it replace the Document of Support.