The UVM Faculty Demand Charges Against Student Protestors be Dropped

We commend the students who joined together to build Tent City for livable wages at UVM. We are also dismayed by the heavy-handed approach of the administration in squelching this peaceful protest and punishing students who stand up for fairness and social responsibility. In your letter to the campus community, you assert that concern for student safty led to Friday night’s raid on the Green. If safety was your concern, you would not have sent ten police cars with lights flashing and officers carrying loaded weapons to address two dozen students who were retiring for the night. We can only conclude that safety was not among the administration’s concerns. After all, by taking down Tent City, you’ve eliminated a visible symbol of the livable wage struggle on campus-and right at a moment when hundreds of students are mobilizing on this issue. Your assertion that a police response was necessary because of an expired permit puzzles us as well. By the same logic, the University’s administration would have stood on the side of the police who cracked down on civil rights protestors at lunch-counter sit-ins-as those protestors also acted without permits. There is no question that committed protesters can make things uncomfortable for the university, but it is primarily through uncomfortable protests that real change happens in society. If not for prolonged and committed protest, UVM would never have divested from apartheid South Africa. If not for prolonged and committed protest, UVM today would not have a US Ethnic Studies program and any stated commitment to diversity. If not for prolonged and committed protests, a livable wage at UVM might likewise never be obtained. The students of Tent City represent the very best of our youth, concerned about the conditions of others. If you are truly committed to “academic freedom and the right to the conscientious expression of opinion,” then we call on you to rescind the trespassing citations, lift any bans on any peaceful student activity on the Green, and reaffirm the University’s commitment to freedom of speech and dissent, including and especially when that dissent is directed at your own administration.Signed:Kit Anderson, Environmental Program/BotanyNancy Brooks, EconomicsSasha Davis, GeographySusan Dinitz, EnglishTina Escaja, Romance LanguagesMichael Faletra, EnglishShirley Gedeon, EconomicsRobert Gordon, AnthropologyLutz Kaelber, SociologyStephanie Kaza, Rubenstein School of Environment and Natural ResourcesFred Magdoff, Plant and Soil SciencePaul Martin, EnglishGagan Mirchandani, Electrical & Computer EngineeringHelen Moran Parmett, TheaterJustin Morgan Parmett, TheaterJoyce Morris, EducationJoanna Rankin, PhysicsMary Lou Razza, EducationHelga Schreckenberger, Women’s/Gender Studies and German/RussianHelen Scott, EnglishTom Simone, EnglishPeter Spitzform, Bailey Howe LibraryRoss Thomson, EconomicsLuis Vivanco, AnthropologyNancy Welch, EnglishElaine McCrate, EconomicsJulie Roberts, Communication Sciences