Thirteen protesters occupied the president’s office at the University of Minnesota Twin Cities on Monday, hoping they could lead the school to new heights of progressivism. Instead, they led themselves into a jail cell.
Whose Diversity?, a collection of activist students and alumni, took over the president’s office in order to push a lengthy list of demands upon the school administration. Among these demands were the construction of a gender-neutral bathroom in every campus building, racial quotas for the student body and even the elimination of a suspect’s race from university crime reports.
Instead of caving, or allowing the students to remain indefinitely, university officials instead told the protesters that after 6 p.m. they would be considered trespassers and face arrest. The students refused to back down, and soon found the school was not bluffing.
University officials said the arrests occurred only after repeated warnings and after students rejected offers to have a discussion on their overall goals.
“The university took this action [the arrests] as a last resort after trying to have a dialogue for nearly seven hours. We regret that individuals chose arrest over a peaceful conclusion,” the school said in a statement.
UM’s actions are at odds with the softer approach taken by some other schools. At Dartmouth College, for instance, protesters making their own radical demands occupied the president’s office for several days and only left after the school promised not to punish them.
The activists were released on bail early Tuesday morning, and are scheduled to appear in court in two weeks on trespassing charges.
The group claims to be unintimidated by the arrests, and one of its non-arrested members took to Facebook to threaten more extreme actions.
“Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. says that sometimes you have to go to direct action if negotiation doesn’t work. We tried negotiation,” Tori Hung, who helped plan the sit-in, told Minnesota Public Radio.
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