The Vermont Cynic

Students call for resignations

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After three demonstrations last week, student protesters planned a class walkout and takeover of the Waterman building Monday, Feb. 25.

Social justice advocacy organization NoNames for Justice held demonstrations Feb. 20, 22 and 23 protesting the administration’s response to white supremacy on campus.

“This administration still believes and stands on white supremacist values,” said sophomore Harmony Edosomwan, president of the Black Student Union. “We’re not playing any bullcrap anymore.”

At each protest, students declared solidarity with John Mejia, assistant director of off-campus services, who outlined demands Feb. 16 for the University to meet, and went on a hunger strike planned to go until the demands were met.

Protests began when students gathered at the Waterman building Feb. 20, calling for the resignation of President Tom Sullivan, Provost David Rosowsky and Annie Stevens, vice provost for student affairs.

The protesters called for the University to adopt demands released in September by anonymous activist group NoNames for Justice. The Cynic has attempted to identify members on pages 6 and 7.

As the sun set and temperatures dropped to the 20s Feb. 22, students blocked the intersection of Main Street and South Prospect Street, chanting for Sullivan to come outside and meet the crowd.

For three hours, protesters chanted while volunteers passed around hot chocolate and hand warmers.

At 9:20 p.m. Stevens, who spoke with Sullivan over the phone, informed organizers that he was “indisposed.” Edosomwan directed protesters into the Waterman building.

Rosowsky did not made any public statements or appearances.

Rosowsky was on vacation with family and unavailable for comment, according to a Feb 24. email from his office.

At Waterman, Stevens, Jilliene Johnson and Dennis DePaul of the dean of students office bought pizza for the protesters, who played music and danced until the building closed at 10 p.m.

Demonstrations continued at 11 a.m. the next day, Feb. 23. NoNames took over Admitted Students Day in the Davis Center.

They spoke to UVM community members, admitted students and their families. Edosomwan said admitted students should be warned that UVM is not as progressive as it seems.

During the rally, Mejia announced the end of their hunger strike, saying the administration was unresponsive and friends and family were worried about their physical health.

Mejia said they would channel energy into helping students effect change.

Protesters took over #UVMsaidyes, a hashtag used by newly admitted UVM students. Protesters posted “#UVMsaidyes to racism” on social media.

Andrea Estey, a digital content strategist, emailed the UVM communicators listserv for marketing employees asking that communicators not use the hashtag after that night’s acceptances.

Protesters moved to Waterman around noon to address the administration.

Students lined the hallway outside Sullivan’s offices. Organizers stood outside with a megaphone.

Sullivan and David Daigle, chair of the UVM board of trustees, addressed the crowd.

“All of you are passionate, and I think that’s great,” Daigle said. “But I also ask you — on behalf of the entire community — to make your advocacy respectful.”

After Sullivan and Daigle returned to their offices while protesters spoke, the crowd called for them to come back out.

The crowd chanted: “If you’ve got nothing to hide, then come outside.”

NoNames planned a class walk-out and takeover of the Waterman building for Feb. 26, said senior Z McCarron, a NoNames leader.

When asked about NoNames’ plans going forward, Edosomwan said: “One word: escalation.”

About the Writer
Brandon Arcari, News Editor
Brandon Arcari is the News Editor for the Vermont Cynic. He is a senior political science major, with minors in Theatre and Writing. He started writing for the paper his freshman year at UVM, and almost immediately became an assistant News Editor. Outside of the Cynic, he enjoys sailing, reading, and watching police procedurals on...
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Students call for resignations