This is a video of the incident Reed administrators have described as "harassment" and "breaking and entering." This conversation is the basis upon which admin issued no contact orders against RAR members, some of whom were not present for the conversation, and threatened police intervention.
According to the Reed anti-racism statement, it is “our responsibility to continuously learn about and disrupt systems of privilege, inequality, and oppression.” John Kroger himself said he had the power to sign our contract, committing to changing to a more ethical bank, and would not. RAR has invited a response contract, which has not been presented, nor has a response to any of RAR’s other demands. Kroger also has said he does not believe prison slavery, as is funded by our operating bank Wells Fargo, is of emergent concern. He has had weeks to respond and negotiate with protesters.
Thus, after 23 days of sitting in the Eliot 3rd floor hallway and president John Kroger’s office lobby with little to no response to our demands, as well as retaliatory sanctions and slander, RAR has entered Kroger’s inner office in order to add pressure on him to take action.
Our actions are not for our own well-being, but for the well-being of those most impacted by Wells Fargo’s investment in the prison industrial complex, immigrant detainment, racist predatory loans, and the Dakota Access Pipeline.The administration chooses to focus all their energy on the methods of our protest and retaliatory sanctions against protesters, while completely failing to address our concerns and demands. In doing this, they are showing they prioritize the power and capitalist efficiency of the institution to carry out business as usual over the emergency of our complicity in modern day slavery. John Kroger himself insisted that if we disagree with the morals of the institution, we should leave. But we are not leaving. When those in power in this institution fail to do so, it is doubly our responsibility as Reedies to disrupt systems of privilege, inequality, and oppression.
Today we vacated one of the administrative offices we were occupying as a compromise with Mike Brody.
Dean of Faculty Nigel Nicholson threatened us publicly in the aforementioned office with a Judicial Board case. He also accused us of breaking into the office and had the locks changed, even though the door was ajar when we entered, with a "come in" sign hanging.
Several students have received no contact orders (NCOs) since this interaction. To the best of our knowledge, all of the black people involved have been issued NCOs, even though none of us have slept in the aforementioned office. Several of the white students who have slept in the office have not received NCOs, even some of those who have slept there every night.
John Kroger is the person who ultimately has the power to change the bank, so we will continue to occupy his office.
Today, October 31st, 2017, Reed College Vice President of Student Services Mike Brody and Dean of Students Bruce Smith issued a no-contact order against many RAR members, including organizers Addison, Alex, and Mia, banning them from occupying the offices of two administrators on counts of “harassment”. Likewise, black students were told they were “breaking and entering” the office space even though they walked through an open door with a sign that says “come in.” The conversations that have taken place between RAR and these administrators in no way constitute harassment, and it is a disingenuous and racist tactic of the administration to paint students of color in this way.
These students are banned from entering the VP and treasurer’s office and the 3rd floor hallway of Eliot, where most of the occupation is taking place, as well as any faculty or staff office without prior consent. Sanctions include full exclusion from campus and a “referral to law enforcement” for continuing this peaceful protest in these restricted areas. Historically, militarized police have frequently been leveraged to quell black liberation movements and silence anti-oppressive voices by fatal violence and incarceration. By threatening the police on student protesters, the administration has made it clear that they prioritize their “orderly processes” and ties to oppressive systems over the lives and livelihoods of their students of color. Reed staff and faculty have hinted all year at the potential of calling the police, and after repeatedly expressing concerns of safety, Dean of Faculty Nigel Nicholson sent out a public-wide email saying that he would not call the cops for any other reason than “imminent risk of physical harm or severe damage to property.” This promise has been broken. For students who have to continuously live under the weight of white supremacy and police brutality, and who will be targeted if the police were to show on campus, this threat is traumatic and constitutes a violation of the school’s own anti-racism statement.
Kroger then sent out a second mass email slandering the protesters, saying we should only protest in his office lobby, “a place of symbolic power.” No substantial change can happen while working within the parameters outlined by the institution you are working to change. We see this at Reed both historically and presently. The conversation around our financial ties to oppressive and racist systems has been ongoing for decades, but Reed has historically always refused to divest. Reed even refused to divest from the South African Apartheid. Specifically, the conversation around our ties to Wells Fargo has been happening for several years, was stated in both this and last year’s boycott demands, and still no movement or conversation has occurred.
Instead, we are told to trust the “orderly processes” of the school, processes that prioritize debatable financial benefit over the immediate endangerment, incarceration, deportation, and murder of black people, immigrants, non-black poc, and marginalized children. Though our educational mission statement (which allows and demands exception to the Investment Responsibility Policy), claims we are dedicated to making Reed as accessible to students of “historically marginalized backgrounds,” we continue to disenfranchise and reinforce systems that inhibit these students from the opportunity of accessing higher education. It would be dishonorable to put our trust in orderly processes with misplaced priorities, without encouraging immediate and anti-racist change through pressuring the administration. By this no-contact order, Reed has proven to us that our occupation of these two administrators’ offices is putting pressure on them. It is therefore our duty to continue pressing the school to change in ways they should have been moving towards on their own.
Additionally, we are told that the board of trustees are entrusted with researching and deciding whether Reed should change their operating bank. This is an explicit conflict of interest, as several members of the trustees investment committee have personal relationships with and investments in Wells Fargo. President John Kroger himself has the power to sign our contract today, and he has repeatedly refused, saying that our investment in prison slavery is not of pressing concern. The President also has the power to call for an emergency trustee meeting to address this issue, rather than wait until the next trustee meeting. Again, Kroger continues to refuse. Conversation and “orderly processes” with a personally-invested committee and leader who does find prison slavery to be emergency enough will yield no change. Thus it is necessary and imperative to truly disrupt these systems in order to enact change.
Kroger’s email also claimed Wells Fargo had “alleged ties” to private prisons and pipelines. It is a fact that Wells Fargo is a large contributor to Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) and GEO Group, the top two private prison corporations in the country, and has invested more than one hundred million dollars in the Dakota Access Pipeline, as is stated on their own website. (See divestment for more info). The Reed administration’s refusal to condemn or even firmly acknowledge these affiliations is abhorrent and embarrassing to an institution that claims it has a “responsibility to continuously learn about and disrupt systems of privilege, inequality, and oppression, and to reform our programs, policies, pedagogy, and practices in accordance with this responsibility.” (Reed official anti-racism statement).
RAR is still occupying the 3rd floor of Elliot, John Kroger’s office, and the office of the administrator for whom the no-contact order was issued. We will continue to peacefully occupy these spaces until our demands are met, including signing the contract committing Reed to divest its money from Wells Fargo and transfer to a more ethical bank. RAR wants the content of this protest to be at the forefront of this conversation. The Reed administration should be doing everything it can to figure out how to cut financial ties with Wells Fargo and the institutions in which it invests. Instead, they are doing everything they can to figure out how to quell the protest and ostracize its organizers, students of color dedicating all their time and unpaid labor to this occupation and movement.
Reed College's Investment Responsibility Policy, which is the policy that Lorraine Arvin continues to cite as her reason for putting off signing the contract, states quite clearly that RAR's demand for the contract to be signed this week is within reason and should be met (see 1., 2. and 3.). Furthermore, in looking at the anti-racism statement made by Reed College, we can see that said policy supports the form in which we are making this demand and denounces the way Lorraine Arvin is responding to this demand(4.).
1. That the educational institution of Reed College should center the needs of people of color:
"An educational institution, with the special obligation of protecting the widest possible expression of divergent viewpoints, and the special responsibility of protecting intellectually dissenting minorities, may of necessity be more abstaining on controversial social, political, and moral issues than individuals or groups who exercise ownership but do not have such special responsibilities."
2. That the college should act if the issue at hand reflects widely-held, or universally-held social or moral positions:
"In acting on non-economic questions the College recognizes that its traditions require it to act only where the issue at hand is of a compelling social or moral character and where the action taken reflects widely-held, perhaps almost universally-held social or moral positions. It should refrain from actions where significant divergence of opinion is perceptible among college constituencies or members."
3. That the treasurer can address concerns at times other than board meetings if the matter is urgent.
"The Treasurer will normally report such concerns to the Committee at its regular meetings, but may do so more
frequently where the matter is of urgent concern."
4. The anti-racism statement states that it is our responsibility to disrupt systems of oppression and reform/ rid ourselves of policies that feed into said systems.
"We affirm our responsibility to continuously learn about and disrupt systems of privilege, inequality, and oppression, and to reform our programs, policies, pedagogy, and practices in accordance with this responsibility."
The President of the college, John Kroger, and the Dean of Faculty, Nigel Nicholson, intend to bring a judiciary board case against RAR organizers, including Addison Bates, Alex Boyd, and Tiffany Chang. This constitutes a Title VI violation and we are currently in touch with a lawyer.
Needless to say, we did not harass Reed staff. We carried out a peaceful sit-in like we always do. They did change the locks, though.