Student Labor Action Project Ups The Ante

ast Monday morning, the tenth of April, members of the Student Labor Action Project (SLAP) marched into Waterman building with the intention of occupying the presidential wing until their three policy proposals were discussed in a negotiation with the administration. The occupation was a failed attempt because the SLAP members were intercepted by the Executive’s Assistant on their way to the wing. They were locked out of the wing and were forced to vacate the area when the police were called in to break up the protest. The Student Labor Action Project sought to obtain a permit that reserved the UVM Green for the duration of Tuesday through Friday afternoon. The permit was obtained and SLAP established a tent city upon the green in clear view of the presidential wing in order “to let Fogel know that we are still hear and we will not go away,” said senior Brady Fletcher. The number of tents grew as the days passed and the students constructed other semi-permanent structures, such as a “box castle” and the “town hall,” which was no more then a shack made of old fence pieces and wooden pallets. By Thursday evening the number of tents had peaked at nearly forty, but the SLAP members knew that they would have to increase the scale of their protest if they wanted to be able to stem a forced evacuation on Friday afternoon when the permit expired. In a meeting Thursday night that was held in the center of tent city, it was decided that there would be a “tent fest potluck and protest” that would headline four musical acts, provide free food and raise awareness and support for livable wages. Colin Robinson, a leading member of SLAP, sent an email out to many different UVM listserves that explained the intent of SLAP to stay on the green beyond the defined time on the permit. In response to this email John Bramely and Annie Stevens called Colin to a meeting early Friday morning, at which they threatened Colin with legal reactions in the UVM judicial system and possible interference in his graduation this spring. The SLAP members worked late into Thursday night creating and printing fliers and leaflets, soliciting for the funds to buy food, and contacting musicians to play music the next day. On Friday the permit expired at 4:30 pm, but the UVM Police did not break up the tent city due to the number of protesters that were plainly visible to the accepted students who milled around the green with their parents. When the sun set and the number of protestors diminished, nine UVM and Burlington Police cruisers and one patty wagon descended upon the protestors and forced an evacuation. Eight protestors were issued trespassing notices, which ban those eight students from setting foot on the green for the next six months. Senior Brady Fletcher said that, “this is crazy. I have to graduate on this green within the next six months, are they going to let me attend my ceremony?”