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

| Staff Reporter

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.”

  • Alex

    “giving students the power to elect all University trustees”

    Holy s—, that’s disturbing.

  • John

    When was the last time these hippie activists have taken a shower? The liberal stench emanating from Brookings is overwhelming my delicate nostrils.

  • WashU Students for Peabody

    Here is a group encouraging a more unbiased discussion about the relationship between WashU and Peabody Energy.

    https://www.facebook.com/WashUforPeabody

  • John

    As a current student and soon to be alumnus, I strongly support Peabody and all of our corporate sponsors. Why is the campus newspaper giving so much media attention to fringe elements of the student body?

    I think most rational students understand the need for corporate support. There are worse companies than Peabody. I hope Chancellor Wrighton continues to ignore these fringe elements. He may be in luck since exams are coming soon.

  • anon

    http://studentagainstpeabody.tumblr.com/

    #studentsagainststudentsagainstpeabody

  • lolz

    #studentsagainststudentsagainstpeabody

  • okay

    How is not giving into their every demand considered not listening? My impression from this article is that the organizers of the movement are the ones not willing to listen.

    Also, the third demand is absolutely ridiculous. How are students expected to elect fitting members for the board of trustees when they hardly participate in SU elections?

    • third demand

      The students quickly changed their third demand. They realized that students electing people to the board of trustees was not the best idea, and this was not a demand that was presented to the Chancellor, or one that is being asked for anymore.

  • Danny

    Was anyone from the school contacted for this story? The opinions represented here are fairly one-sided. I’d like to see a more balanced article where there is at least a pretense made of trying to get multiple points of view.

    • okay

      Doesn’t matter #StudentsAgainstPeabody

  • Brendan Ziebarth

    Join us:
    #StudentsAgainstPeabody
    #AlumniAgainstPeabody
    @WUStopPeabody
    https://www.facebook.com/pages/WashU-Students-Against-Peabody/
    http://studentsagainstpeabody.org/

    • anon

      No one gives a s—.