The trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin in the death of George Floyd is reaching its final phase, with jury deliberations to begin early this week. Coverage of the trial and constant reports of racially motivated violence weigh…
Message from Provost Spina to Faculty and University Colleagues
Over the past 24 hours, there have been significant and unfortunate misunderstandings regarding the current situation in Crouse-Hinds Hall. I want to take this opportunity to reach out to you directly and provide the following facts and perspectives:
- Tomorrow, Monday, Nov. 17, will mark the 14th day of essentially unfettered access to Crouse-Hinds Hall for the students protesting their concerns. The only restrictions that apply are fire code rules, expectations that have been set to allow mission-critical University functions such as teaching and learning to continue, and access restrictions to the building when it is closed. During the hours the building is closed, students have been advised that they may remain, but if they depart they cannot return until the building opens. No other individuals, unless they have prior approved access to the building, are able to enter the building during the time it is closed. The same policy applies for many other buildings on campus.
- During the hours the building is open, students, faculty, staff and community members have been allowed to gather, hold teach-ins, invite outside speakers, and conduct other activities not normally held in this space; they also have been allowed to come and go freely.
- Senior administrators including Chancellor Syverud, Dean Bea González, Senior Vice President and Dean of Student Affairs Rebecca Reed Kantrowitz and I, along with our staffs, have committed hundreds of hours of our time and energy responding to the students. This has included no less than four exchanges of a “Demands and Solutions” document that began at 43 pages and now totals 54 pages following our extensive discussions. During the course of these negotiations, the administration has been respectful of the students’ concerns, responsive to giving them answers, and we have made ourselves available night and day to respond.
- On Wednesday, Nov. 12, a full nine days into the sit-in, it became apparent that only complete adherence to the group’s demands would lead to vacation of the building, and that the significant movement by the administration on the demands and the identification of inclusive processes for further dialogue by all members of the University were not compelling to the students.
- The final document that was provided to the students on Wednesday, Nov. 12, made clear that going forward the Code of Student Conduct would be in consideration and that any previous violations would not be pursued by any means.
- On Friday, Nov. 14, the Office of General Counsel, in an effort to afford those students who continued to remain in the building maximum due process, provided them copies of the Code of Student Conduct. Highlighted were the provisions in the Code that might apply under the current situation.
- To date, no students have been specifically requested to leave the building. In keeping with our commitment to provide appropriate due process, the University commits to giving the students advance notice should plans be made to initiate Code of Student Conduct charges. No such plans are currently in place.
- On Saturday Nov. 15, a faculty member from the College of Law arrived at Crouse-Hinds Hall unannounced and requested entry to the building to advise students. In keeping with the rules regarding the closing of the building, anyone was free to exit the building to seek guidance subject to the building rules. I would note that since day one, these students have had full access to their phones, to University Wi-Fi, and their own Internet connections. They have been in communication with anyone of their choosing, including legal advisors, faculty, parents or administrators.
- Today and going forward, a process will be developed so that legal advisement can be provided in the building even when it is closed. As of this writing, 14 students remain at their choosing in Crouse-Hinds Hall.
I recognize that many faculty members have personal connections to the issues and students currently involved in this protest. Chancellor Syverud, his leadership team, and I are working diligently to balance the concerns of the student protestors, the security of the building in which they have chosen to remain and the business functions therein, and the needs of the 21,000 other students who attend our University.
I hope you will recognize that during the past two weeks this process and dialogue has resulted in change, progress, and a significant commitment by the University administration to meet many of the demands brought forth by students.
This said, it is clear that the current equilibrium is not sustainable and that all of us should be focused on finding and supporting a more permanent process for engagement.
Eric F. Spina
Vice Chancellor and Provost