Students Demand Washington University Cut Ties With Prisons

 

VIDEO LINK: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=64VqmvbEb7c

Students Demand Washington University Cut Ties With Prisons

St. Louis Students in Solidarity is releasing a list of demands in support of Decarcerate St. Louis, calling for a public disclosure of Washington University’s financial investments in prisons, following students organizing universities across the country to address racial injustice on college campuses and their surrounding communities.

Enterprise Holdings CEO and Washington University board of trustees member Andrew Taylor connects the university with profits from correctional facilities. Taylor holds the majority stake in Centric Group, which oversees a network of prison service companies called Keefe Group.

Operating in more than 800 private and public prisons across the country, Keefe secures its profits through price mark-ups on commissary goods, including food and toiletries, and fees for services and utilities, such as phone, internet, and money transfers. Keefe is projected to make $8.5 million a year in their new contract with Missouri prisons.

St. Louis Students in Solidarity is releasing the new set of demands after Chancellor Mark Wrighton and the Washington University board of trustees failed to follow up on a student call for a transparent and ethical endowment a part of a larger picture of expanding resources for students of color on campus and improving the relationship between Wash.U and the surrounding St. Louis community.

Decarcerate St. Louis, an organization founded by formerly incarcerated St. Louisans, is calling on Taylor for the investment of 1% of Enterprise Holdings $12.8 billion net annual profit towards efforts statistically proven to decrease rates of incarceration in St. Louis neighborhoods with the highest rates of incarceration.

In conjunction with Decarcerate’s “Justice, Not Charity” campaign, St. Louis Students in Solidarity demands (1) Taylor comply with Decarcerate St. Louis’s demands; (2) Craig Schnucks use his position as the chair of Washington University’s board of trustees to remove Taylor from the board; and (3) Chancellor Wrighton publicly disclose Washington University’s investments and financial connections to prisons.

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WUSIS — Statement in Solidarity with Mizzou and Yale University

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November 11th, 2015

At Washington University in St. Louis, we stand in solidarity with students at the University of Missouri. We see the pain and trauma that students of color are experiencing, and we will continue to speak and act against the racist power structures of universities and police forces that reinforce white supremacy.

Death threats from white people towards people of color, and the trivialization of marginalized students’ fear, pain, and resilience, have been pervasive throughout the history of America’s educational institutions.

For students of color, an education should not mean enduring consistent discrimination, marginalization, and disregard from administrators.

The acts of hate and violence on the University of Missouri campus have been frighteningly reminiscent of incidents occurring on college campuses across the nation. Washington University’s campus is all too familiar with threatening yik yaks, unsupportive faculty, racist police forces, and an administration that has failed to proactively protect faculty, students, and staff of color. As we witness similar events unfold at the University of Missouri, Yale, and other campuses, we recognize that these are not isolated incidents. They indicate how the structures upholding this country, including higher education, fail marginalized peoples.

Last year, when the St. Louis region was at war with white supremacy, many Mizzou students left Columbia and joined the fight. Many more offered much-needed words of solidarity. Now, we stand ready to join and support Mizzou however we are needed.

Concerned Student 1950, we are proud of your radical resistance work and sacrifice that is not only making equitable change a possibility, but a reality. We love and support you.

#InSolidaritywithMizzou
#WashUStandswithMizzou
#BlackLivesMatter

St. Louis Students in Solidarity, Washington University branch
W.U. Association of Black Students
W.U. +People Like Us: QPOC Support Group

Washington U. Students in Solidarity Statement – February 11, 2015

10734078_350065985160510_2506349531649023516_nOn February 9th, the six month anniversary of the death of Michael Brown Jr., the Washington University contingent of St. Louis Students in Solidarity  (SSIS) took time and space to remember the life of Mike Brown and the many other black lives killed by police brutality and systematic racism.  At noon, a member of SSIS who was also involved in Black Anthology’s production titled “The Six,” performed a monologue from the script which included the names of those whose lives were lost due to police violence. Black Anthology produced a poignant show that addressed pressing issues faced by black students and communities. Ultimately, today’s action in the DUC was planned and conducted by SSIS and any criticisms people may have should be directed towards our organization.

On this same day, another group of students implemented a flyering campaign addressing racist posts on the anonymous forum YikYak. The campaign sought to reveal the racism in our campus community by distributing printouts of the most offensive and racist online comments. It intended to bring to light the intolerance that festers at Washington University under the shield of anonymity. Washington U. Students in Solidarity was not involved in this campaign, and we recognize that this action had unintended consequences for many black students who were unexpectedly confronted with hatred that they may have chosen to avoid. Nonetheless, SSIS supports the right of students to publicly demonstrate and organize to seek change by their own means. Though some were adversely affected by this action, including members of WU SIS, let us not allow this to distract from critical conversations about the thriving racism amongst students that these statements highlighted.

Dean Jen Smith has publicly condemned the “hateful and racist messages” written by Washington University community members on Yik Yak. We hope that both the W.U. administration and student body are equally horrified by the intolerance and that both will take definitive actions against bigotry on campus.

Response to Chancellor Wrighton’s End of Year Reflection – WU Students in Solidarity

Yesterday, Chancellor Wrighton released a statement to the entire Washington University community regarding recent events on our campus and larger St. Louis region. The Washington University contingent of St. Louis Students in Solidarity recognizes the effort and thoughtfulness that went into the Chancellor’s email. We, along with many other students and alumni, view his message as an important first step in holding our Washington University community accountable and taking a necessary stance on the issues plaguing our community and region. This email is a needed departure from previous emails from the administration that did nothing to change the neutrality and apathy of the Washington University community. The statement acknowledged the fact that racism exists on our campus and that Washington University students are not exempt from the biases that led to the deaths of Michael Brown, Eric Garner, Tamir Rice, and so many others. Washington University Students in Solidarity will continue to push the administration and the Chancellor to be courageous in actively tackling these issues, ranging from taking a self critical look at how Washington University contributes to racial inequities in the St. Louis region to improving the climate for students, faculty, and staff of color on campus. As Chancellor Wrighton pointed out, “Black lives matter” is more than a slogan of this movement, and we expect that he will take actions with other university leaders to actively work against racism and towards equity. We look forward to presenting our official list of demands in January and ask that the administration lean into the discomfort that may come along with these negotiations as we push our institution to do better and be better. 

Sincerely,

Washington University contingent of STL Students in Solidarity