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University of Minnesota Solidarity Network
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Contact: Hallie (612)217-2462, firstname.lastname@example.org
March 29, 2011
Students, Faculty, and Community Members Continue Occupation of Social Sciences Tower at the University of Minnesota – Twin Cities
Negotiations with UMN Police Allow Some Occupiers to Stay Overnight
Minneapolis – After occupying the first floor of the Social Sciences Tower on the West Bank of the University of Minnesota Twin Cities campus for ten hours, students and community members were confronted by the University of Minnesota Police Department around 10:15 pm, 45 minutes before the building was supposed to be closed for the night. Police initially insisted that occupiers leave the building, and were not willing to negotiate with the group. However, the UMPD was persuaded to meet and discuss the issue with two occupiers, one of whom was a faculty member. After 40 minutes of negotiations between the two parties, a compromise was made. The police would allow 12 students to stay in the Social Sciences tower over night, but all other occupiers had to leave for the night.
“Ideally, we all would have been allowed to stay overnight,” said Elliot, a member of the South Minneapolis community, “But given the choice between being arrested and completely losing the space, or allowing 12 students to stay and continue the occupation, it was a fairly easy decision for us to make.” In the morning, the other occupiers returned and the space continued to function as it had the day before.
The occupiers have also created a calendar of events that are open to all members of the university and the public. The events, which are listed on their blog, http://www.umnsolidarity.wordpress.com, include group meals, a movie night, and workshops. According to Danny, a graduate student, more events are being planned to further spread the message of the occupation and to talk about how the university community can solve the issues that it is facing. “We have been approached by a number of professors who want to bring their classes to the space. So far, it has been really successful for both the classes and the occupation,” he added.
Students, faculty, and community members have been occupying the Social Sciences Tower on the West Bank of the Twin Cities University of Minnesota campus since 1pm on March 28th. Their list of demands is as follows:
“Because we are residents of Minnesota, and because this is a public, land-grant university,
We demand the right to peacefully occupy space at our university,
We demand that the general public has reasonable access to university resources;
We demand that the university respect the rights of all workers to organize and to earn at least a living wage;
We demand tuition and fee reductions;
We demand that regents be democratically elected by the university community;
We demand that the university treat student groups fairly and equitably with respect to funding and space. We demand student groups on the 2nd floor of Coffman Union be able to keep their spaces.
In doing so, we stand in solidarity with the people of Wisconsin, and students and workers worldwide.”