NORTHFIELD, Minn. (KMSP) - Students at St. Olaf voiced their grievances on Monday in a packed auditorium as classes across campus were canceled.
Protesters said they feel the college has done far too little, too slowly in reacting to racial threats.
Krysta Wetzel is involved in the student group The Collective for Change on the Hill.
“This has been something that’s been happening for years and has not been addressed in a structural way,” said Wetzel.
The group drafted a list of demands: assurances threats are aggressively investigated, bigger changes to diversify staff, faculty and curriculum, much more intense diversity training and better engagement with students who've been targeted.
“When it comes to things like campus-wide hurt, we want more transparency, more cooperation on that kind of level, so that we can feel part and we can feel heard as part of this process,” said Wetzel. “We’re just looking for something concrete because nothing you've given us so far has been concrete.”
President David Anderson met with the assembly several times. While he took issue with the idea of demands, he told them some things they did already, others they'd like to work on, and he said the school’s response hasn't been what it should be.
“Colleges and universities aren't famous for their expeditiousness, I’m not going to lie to you. But we want to be, so if there are things we can do and should do, we're going to do them and do them as fast as we can,” Anderson said.
President Anderson sent the following letter to alumni:
Dear St. Olaf Community,
At 3 p.m. today, we agreed with the student-led group “Collective For Change on The Hill” on a process for addressing concerns about racism and lack of inclusion on our campus. Sharing our Agreement with you now fulfills one of its terms.
This the first step in a process towards a long-term solution, and all of us on campus are committed to moving forward in a spirit of collaboration to address these important issues.
David R. Anderson '74
President, St. Olaf College