Student Life | The independent newspaper of Washington University in St. Louis since 1878

Ineffectual meeting with chancellor fails to put end to sit-in

Stephen Huber | Student Life

Junior Samuel Lai holds up a sign expressing concerns about Peabody worker rights. Students are continuing their sit-in under the Brookings Archway indefinitely.

Students are continuing their sit-in under the Brookings Archway after Chancellor Mark Wrighton rejected their core demand to remove Greg Boyce, CEO of Peabody Energy, from Washington University’s board of trustees Saturday.

At a rally Friday afternoon, participants specified their three demands: unseating Boyce, having the chancellor visit extraction zones and issue a public statement denouncing Peabody, and giving students the power to elect all University trustees.

Students have been camped out under the iconic archway since Tuesday, April 8, calling for Washington University to cut ties with the world’s largest private coal company because of human rights and environmental concerns.

They hoped the chancellor’s agreement to meet with them Saturday signaled his openness to negotiate but said it was ultimately just a public relations move.

“When asked the question, ‘Well, you are in a position to take a stand [against Boyce], will you take a stand?’ he said, ‘I can, but I won’t,’” junior and sit-in organizer Julia Ho said. “And at that moment we said, ‘Well, we’re done here,’ and we left.”

“Listening isn’t going to be good enough,” she added. “We need the University to really consider what we’re doing [here].”

While five sit-in organizers met with the chancellor, other students and community members wrote a letter to Wrighton explaining why they considered their efforts significant. After their peers’ meeting, they delivered it to his second-floor North Brookings Hall office, the door to which they were surprised to find open.

After handing the letter to the chancellor, they were told to leave the building by Washington University Police Department Chief of Police Don Strom, who said the building was closed.

“I think it was a good way to show that we’re serious about this issue and that we are not backing down,” Ho said. “We have support from the students; we have support from the community; we have support nationally. And it’s just figuring out what are the best ways to pull that support together to really pressure another meeting with the chancellor that is really about negotiating.”

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Student Life | The independent newspaper of Washington University in St. Louis since 1878