Waterman takeover ends, protesters return home

Just after 9:30 p.m., protesters rolled up sleeping bags, cleaned up litter in the halls and gathered food they’d brought in preparation of a night on the floors of classrooms and hallways in the Waterman building.

The leadership instructed protesters to clean up and leave Waterman building, rather than stay days as NoNames leader senior Z McCarron said the group might last night.

After student racial justice group NoNames for Justice held the third-ever Waterman takeover,  around 250 students have settled in the Waterman building. While protesters talked about identity issues in Waterman classrooms, NoNames leaders met privately with President Tom Sullivan.

“At this point we are entering the negotiation phase without any further actions planned,” McCarron said. “We’ll see how negotiations go.”

When a voice from the crowd asked NoNames leaders how the private meetings went, NoNames leader sophomore Harmony Edosomwan said to the crowd “We’re entering into negotiations. We have another meeting on Wednesday.”

“I don’t want to say the specifics because we’re in negotiations, but a lot of the things we wanted them to do, they didn’t do,” Edosomwan said. “We wanted them to get us a mediator, and they didn’t get us a mediator.”

After 9:10 p.m., police walked around Waterman to inform protesters they would arrest anyone who remained in the building, UVM police officer Jordan Barriere said.

“I know we have had a good working relationship with the police. I just want to name that we told the police we were going to leave. We told the police we were going to tell y’all we were going to leave. So this scare tactic to try and separate us was fucked up,” graduate student Doretha Benn said. “And that shows us where we stand actually with the police.”

“So again, don’t listen to information that’s not coming from us. Don’t let no frauds deter you from the cause,” Benn said.

Protesters staged a campus-wide class walkout at 11 a.m. and directed participants to march to the Waterman building. For three hours, the group sent out small groups of students to speak with deans of each of the University’s seven colleges.

Student protesters asked for the deans to sign a letter committing to hire and retain more faculty and staff of color and to implement mandatory diversity training, according to the letter.

Dean William Falls of the College of Arts and Sciences and dean Nancy Mathews of the Rubenstein school have signed the letter, but the deans of the other five colleges have not.

“The plan for the shutdown came from that Tom Sullivan is holding negotiations at 5 p.m. tonight, so we’re shutting it down until then,” junior NoNames member Jamal Davis Neal Jr. said.

As of 8:30 p.m., McCarron said that the meeting went on a break.

“We are waiting on negotiations,” sophomore Jordan Ciccone said. “We are prepared to sleep here.”

Around 3:20 p.m., NoNames posted to Facebook asking for sleeping bags and instructing all who were planning to stay the night to be in the building by 4:30 p.m.

Ciccone and senior Angie Crespo, a NoNames leader, asked that everyone in attendance stay within the bounds of the law and respect the Waterman building.

“Unless you’re gonna pay for it, don’t vandalize the building,” Crespo said.

Sophomore SGA senator Reginah Mako said that she has noticed a change in tone of the protests over time, but does not know the reason.

“I resonate with the sentiments that are shared as a person of color on campus,” Mako said. “But I think calling for resignations and using those kinds of means, it will really affect the University at the expense of education, health and safety.”