Protest groups organize
February 23, 2008
More than a week after former College President Gene Nichol announced his resignation, student protest groups are transforming into cohesive organizations with specific goals aimed at the reformation of the Board of Visitors.
p. One group, Tribe United, was formed before the BOV’s decision in an effort to promote Nichol’s contract renewal, according to founding member Sarah Rojas ’10.
p. “Once the decision became public, we transformed into an all-inclusive organization working to promote the best interests of the College,” she said in an e-mail. “We embody the values that President Nichol stood for, and we are now all different sections of the College community working together to keep our College heading in the right direction.”
p. She added that there are approximately 35 students at the core of Tribe United. As of press time, 427 students were members of the Tribe United Facebook group.
p. Rojas said the group is looking forward to today’s forums.
p. “We hope that this meeting with the BOV is the first of many and that we can continue an open and transparent relationship in the future,” she said. “It is important that students, faculty, staff and alumni are able to voice their concerns to the BOV when they come to campus and in the months to follow.”
p. According to Rojas, the group’s long-term goals include continued student, faculty, staff and alumni involvement in the presidential search process, keeping students involved in college affairs and dialogue, open communication with the BOV and working with Interim College President Taylor Reveley to promote the best interests of the College.
p. “Tribe United hopes to help preserve the future of that dialogue and work to make sure it continues over the course of the upcoming months,” Rojas said.
p. Another student group that mobilized in response to the situation is Students for a Democratic Society. Sean Walsh ’08 and Margaret Smith ’10 said that, although they are members of SDS, they do not speak for the group but as “concerned students.”
Walsh said that he opposes the BOV’s closed-door decision not to renew Nichol’s contract.
p. “I personally believe that’s wrong,” he said.
p. SDS has used this situation to advocate a more open BOV decision-making process in order to prevent situations such as this in the future.
p. “We really want a more open, democratic process in the way the BOV makes its decisions,” Smith said. “One of the things we’re asking Michael Powell — we’re really excited he’s coming — is to keep an open mind.”
p. Walsh said that they will formulate a long-term plan after today’s forums and but that they were anxious to hear what Powell and other BOV members have to say.
p. “We want to hear them out,” she said.
p. “We’re really dedicated to seeing change here,” Walsh added.
One new website, ReplacePowell.com, focuses on BOV Rector Michael Powell. Founder James Rosenthal M.A.’08 said that he intends for it to be a place for those who want to see Michael Powell removed as BOV rector to organize — maybe.
p. “This website hasn’t been officially launched, and I hope it never will be,” he said. “If people find Powell’s explanations [at today’s forums] adequate, this website will quietly go away.”
p. If Powell’s explanation is not adequate, Rosenthal said, ReplacePowell.com will launch and provide a petition and information on contacting government officials.