‘If the administration did not want us to be arrested, we would not have been arrested’: Eight arrests made during sit-in

and | Senior Editors

Eight individuals occupying Chancellor-elect Andrew Martin’s office for a Fight for $15 protest were arrested by the Washington University Police Department (WUPD) earlier this evening.

The occupation was part of the Fight for $15 campaign, which aims to secure a living wage for all workers. While protesters marched through the Danforth Campus, eight people occupied Martin’s office.

Eight individuals occupying Chancellor-elect Andrew Martin’s office for a Fight for $15 protest were arrested by the Washington University Police Department Monday. Now, Fight for $15 supporters intend to camp outside of Brookings until Martin agrees to raise the minimum wage on campus and provide free childcare.Grace Bruton | Student Life

Eight individuals occupying Chancellor-elect Andrew Martin’s office for a Fight for $15 protest were arrested by the Washington University Police Department Monday. Now, Fight for $15 supporters intend to camp outside of Brookings until Martin agrees to raise the minimum wage on campus and provide free childcare.

The arrests were made because individuals violated Washington University’s Demonstrations and Disruption policy. Civil rights activist Reverend Darryl Gray was among those arrested this evening.

“We understood that, if we went in, that [there] was a likelihood that we would get arrested, so we knew that. We didn’t think we would get arrested as quickly as we did. We thought that ‘We’re not hurting anything, we’re in a secure building, we’ve got police around, let’s talk’,” Gray said. “That wasn’t the case. I was surprised at the quickness that we got arrested. But I wasn’t surprised at the quickness that we got released.”

Because Gray is not a student, he was given a warning that if he returned to campus, he could be charged with criminal trespassing.

“I think that I haven’t really caused any disturbance. I haven’t caused any destruction. I’m not a threat to property or to people, and I think that’s a very harsh, intimidating tactic … to try to deter people from coming on campus being part of civil disobedience,” Gray said. “I’m disappointed that they would feel the need to do that. I’m an activist, and that particular warning will be challenged.”

Gray said he felt it was smart of the University to not involve outside police and keep the process internal, because “the visuals, the optics would have been awful.”

“Because this is private property, outside police cannot enter without being requested,” Gray said. “And so it would have to be the University who would have to make that call. I give them credit—I have to give the school credit for not involving outside police. That was smart.”

According to Vice Chancellor of Public Affairs Jill Friedman, the arrests were necessary so they could close Brookings Hall for the day. Friedman also wrote in her statement that the University is in the process of surveying its options in regards to wage. The University currently pays its workers $12 an hour.

“Regarding the underlying issues, several members of the University leadership have met with Fight for $15 leaders to listen to their concerns and understand their perspective,” Friedman wrote. “In each of those conversations, including with Chancellor-elect Martin directly, administrators have shared that there is a process underway to develop an issue brief that includes an analysis of options. When that process is complete, the chancellor-elect will discuss the options with a variety of stakeholders. After that, a decision will be made and shared with the University community.”

Occupiers estimated that they were in the office for about four hours before WUPD arrested them. Ph.D. candidate Ben Groebe was one of the individuals arrested tonight. He said WUPD were “just doing their jobs.”

“If the administration did not want us to be arrested, we would not have been arrested,” Groebe said. “That is a choice that the chancellor gets to make.”

Currently, supporters are camping outside of Brookings. They say they will be there until Martin commits to raising the hourly wage on campus to $15 an hour. They are joined by other allies—both graduate and undergraduate—alike.

“It’s extremely important to countless people on campus,” freshman and Asian and Pacific Islanders Demanding Justice (APIDJ) member Josie Robinson wrote in a statement to Student Life. “Most of the workers don’t get paid enough to live above the poverty line, and they don’t receive free child healthcare.”

Other participants, like Ph.D. candidate Oguz Alyanak, said they would be camping out as long as it takes for Martin to respond to their demands. He said that in his seven years at the University, he hadn’t seen activism on campus until groups of graduate students advocated to unionize two years ago.

“This was the first [civil disobedience] on campus that we did. … I’ve been here for seven years and I haven’t seen any sort of activism until two years when grad workers decided to unionize so this is something quite new to us…,” Alyanak said. “We don’t know what’s going to happen with this ‘Martinville’ now … more people are coming. They’re bringing their tents as well. We expect to stay here as long as it takes,; hopefully it doesn’t take too long so we don’t freeze our asses off.”

Fight for $15 brings together a large coalition of workers and students on campus.

“We’ve talked to workers on this campus … who have urgent problems that can’t wait. I remember talking to one housekeeper who talked about how she’s working three jobs, doesn’t get to see her kids, and she’s had to come home to an eviction notice before, because she couldn’t pay her rent,” Groebe said. “That, to me, is a crisis.”

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