Below is a statement said by Colton Jones at our press conference today:
On behalf of THE General Body, I would like the thank the administration and members of the community for acknowledging our voices. We, a group of undergraduates, graduates, and supportive faculty members and staff, who come from different backgrounds, different experiences, and from different perspectives. We have stood together, slept on brick floor together, and are now here together, still united, as a living, breathing, organic representation that unification across issues fragmented issues and struggles is possible. We fight for transparency, we fight for diversity, and we fight to make our campus a more inclusive place for all.
We find the administration’s quote “final written response” inadequate.
A single paragraph response to sum up eleven grievances related to mental health, that does nothing more than reiterate that mental health is important, does not show a commitment to student mental health. We think mental health is important too, that is why we are here.
Working within an administrative model that values profit over student experience, it is vital for the university to commit to diversity within our student body as well as within our faculty and staff. Without this commitment we can not be sure that equal opportunities are given for all in the admittance and hiring process. Diversity is how we learn from each other and cultivate our consciousness and compassion for one another, simply acknowledging its importance is not enough.
We are glad the administration has made some small concessions. While a partial apology on the Advocacy Center’s irresponsible closure is important, it should not have taken 8,000 petition signatures, 3 listening meetings, 2 rallies, and 10 days of a sit in to achieve this simple and reasonable request. That it took this long speaks to the ongoing reluctance of the administration to meet the basic needs of the entire student body, including services for victims of sexual assault, basic mental health needs, basic accessibility needs, and the commitment in action (not just in words) to supporting students and faculty of color and other historically marginalized identities on campus. Clearly, we have not solved issues of transparency and diversity on campus, which THE General Body continues to fight for.
To end the sit in, we want to meet with senior administrators who have decision making power, without an absolute time, to get a commitment to a plan of action. Going back and forth on a google doc has been productive, but it’s not enough. We look forward to educating you about the important grievances that have not been properly addressed, and encourage you to listen with an open mind and open heart, acknowledging that as a member of the community, these issues in some way affect you too.