ST. LOUIS - A sit-in landed seven Washington University in St. Louis students in jail Friday. They were part of a group protesting outside the Board of Trustees meeting.
That group wants Peabody Energy CEO Greg Boyce off the university's governing board. One of the students arrested was senior Julia Ho. She says she would do it all over again if it means getting their message across that Greg Boyce has no place on Wash U's Board of Trustees.
"The police sort of had a line right up against us, and whenever we moved forward just to sort of try to advance that line, that's when were basically taken outside and cuffed," Ho said.
This is the same group that camped outside of Brookings Hall for two weeks wanting Boyce removed from the Board of Trustees.
"The university didn't relent on doing so. So right now we have come to the Board of Trustees meeting to directly ask or talk to Boyce, ask him for a response to our requests for him to resign, or for him to make a public statement to respond to what we're doing," said junior Nancy Yang.
"We think that Peabody's business practices do not align with the values of this university, or the values that brought us here today," added senior Brian Redline.
But not all students agree.
"Having Boyce on the board doesn't send the message that we support is business practices, so much as the value that we value his contributions to our university," explained sophomore Kaity Cullen.
Cullen says for the millions Boyce and Peabody pour into the university, he has a right to see how his money is spent as a member of the board. She says the university meeting their demands wouldn't be wise in the long-run.
"...it sends a message to people that want to contribute to Wash U that a couple of tents outside of Brookings could make or break a multi-million dollar relationship," she said.
Wash U released a statement saying the students were told in advance, and at the sit-in that if they tried to get in they'd be arrested.
The university also says the student organizers gave them a list of several demands that they cannot and will not meet, but the university is going to take steps to address the concerns they raised.
Friday afternoon, Washington University Chancellor Mark Wrighton and Provost Holden Thorp released a statement concerning the protest, which can be viewed in its entirety below:
We continue to support our students' right and ability to express their views. We encourage our students to be active and engaged citizens. This is an important aspect of the students' experience here at Washington University.
Over the course past few weeks, the two of us have had numerous conversations directly with student organizers to listen to their concerns. Many issues have been raised and though we may not always agree, we have welcomed constructive and respectful dialogue. This is consistent with who we are as an institution and the way we interact as a community.
Communication from the student organizers has laid out several demands that we cannot and will not meet. However, there are steps we are going to take to address concerns that have been raised.
As one of the world's leading institutions, Washington University has a unique opportunity to enhance the quality of life close to home and around the world. We do so through our roles as convener, educator, researcher and community leader.
In our role as convener, we will host a symposium to explore the issues of corporate social responsibility and how institutions like ours can help to motivate positive change. We will work with students to frame the agenda and select speakers.
In our role as educator, we will provide an opportunity for student representatives of our Board of Trustees to be more actively engaged in board meetings by regularly presenting their perspectives on matters that are of interest to the student body. This would include the opportunity to present Student Union resolutions to the Undergraduate Experience Committee of the Board of Trustees.
In our role as researcher, we will continue to work toward cutting edge discoveries that will solve one of the greatest challenges of this century: meeting the world's energy needs with minimal effect on the environment. Right now, principally through our International Center for Advanced Renewable Energy and Sustainability (I-CARES), Washington University researchers and students are exploring remarkable possibilities to make alternative energy sources more viable. We also are focused on mitigating the environmental impact of the use of coal, including approaches to capturing and storing carbon dioxide that accompanies combustion of any fossil fuel.
Also in our role as researcher, we are willing to consider the terminology we use to define our work, particularly if it helps to better describe the breadth and potential positive impact of our discoveries.
Lastly, in our role as community leader, we will continue to invest in sustainability efforts that directly reduce our own carbon footprint. Meeting LEED-certification standards in new construction, increasing our use of solar energy, promoting recycling and composting, and providing ride-share and other alternative transportation options are some of the many ways in which Washington University is leading by example and positively impacting the environment.
No matter the role we fulfill, we will act in a way that reflects the university's respectful, collaborative and supportive community. At the same time, we will foster an environment where our students feel their voices are heard.