Protesters storm UVM president's office with list of demands
The "Old Mill" building at the University of Vermont.
A large group of student protesters recently stormed the University of Vermont’s President’s Office to present a list of demands, including mandatory diversity training for all faculty and staff.
A video of the UVM Black Student Union’s (BSU) “Rally for Social Justice” shows protesters repeatedly addressing University President Tom Sullivan with chants of “Hey, Tom! Take of your mask! Hey, Tom! Take of your mask!”
"We demand that the University takes the responsibility to make sure our groups obtain more funding."
The primary goal of the protest, which attracted dozens of participants, was to storm Sullivan’s on-campus office in order to physically present him with a list of their demands.
While one university administrator greeted the protesters on the steps of Sullivan’s office building to explain that he was unavailable to meet at the time, the students nonetheless entered the building amidst cries of “let us in!”
According to the Burlington Free Press, Sullivan later responded to the BSU and agreed to speak with its leaders alongside other “key UVM administrative leaders” to discuss the demands.
Among the ten demands is a call for “mandatory diversity training encompassing race, equity, religion, sexuality, gender identities, and sexual violence” for “all UVM administration, faculty, and staff.”
Similarly, the group wants UVM to require all fraternity and sorority members to complete “racial diversity/inclusion/climate/equity training,” noting that “students of color” should have a role in crafting the workshops.
“It is vital that Fraternities and sororities learn the history of Fraternities and sororities at the university of vermont,” the document sputters. “Obtaining this knowledge is vital to making sure their [sic] does not repeat itself.”
The list goes on to demand that student perpetrators of “hate crimes” “be expelled,” specifically imploring the university to expel student Jake Reichhelm for removing a Black Lives Matter flag from a campus flagpole earlier this year.
The BSU also requests that African, Latino, Asian, and Native American (ALANA) clubs be “put higher in the university’s funding priorities,” saying that such groups “are given scraps to eat whilst non-ALANA groups obtain full course meals.”
With that, the demands ask for “a separate donation fund for ALANA clubs” so that alumni can “have the option to direction [sic] donate to ALANA SGA recognized clubs as well.”
Finally, the ultimatum concludes by pressuring the administration to rename an on-campus building named after George Perkins, an environmentalist who served in the Abraham Lincoln Administration and espoused social Darwinist views.
“Considering the racist history of the University of Vermont and the supposed progressive stance this university takes, it is quite paradoxical to still have a building named after George Perkins, considering his racist lineage,” the protesters assert. “If the University of Vermont is truly ashamed of its disgustingly racist history, then the name of this building needs to be changed.”
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