Luther College Chips

Students demand change with sit-in

Students gather outside the office of the president during the sit-in.

Students gather outside the office of the president during the sit-in.

Jacob Warehime (‘18) | Chips

Jacob Warehime (‘18) | Chips

Students gather outside the office of the president during the sit-in.

Jacob Warehime, Editor-In-Chief

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Members of the Luther community held a sit-in on the second floor of the Union on Friday, April 27. The sit in, which lasted from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., was intended both as a response to the bias incidents reported on April 25 and 26 and as an opportunity for students to voice their concerns directly to the administration.

The sit-in was organized by students in Associate Professor of Religion Todd Green’s Theology and Religious Diversity course following a discussion they had during class. After deciding to organize a sit-in, members of the class reached out to campus organizations for support, such as PRIDE, Luther College Young Democratic Socialists, and the Luther choirs.

Member if the Theology and Religious Diversity class Sierra Twesten (‘18) said that the goal of the sit-in was more than just to draw attention to the bias incidents.

“With the sit-in, we are choosing to sit in the places where decisions are made to show that we, as a campus, are involved in the making of decisions,” Twesten said. “It’s not just about the administration hearing our ideas and translating them into action. We want to help spur that action. This sit in is not a reaction to what happened, but a call for action to move forward in the future.”

Twesten’s class also created a poster on which attendees were encouraged to write.

“The [poster] is titled ‘Ideas for Institutional Change,’” Twesten said. “It’s our campus’ way to say, ‘Look at all these ideas. Here are all the voices from our community.’”

Throughout the day, various campus organizations led events and donated resources. Community member Liz Rog led a song and dance circle outside the Office of the President, PRIDE made stars to show support of the LGBTQ community, choirs joined in song, and many other groups donated food and water. Students were also encouraged to sign a petition drafted by Nick Vande Krol (‘18) which advocated for the addition of a required social justice course to Luther’s curriculum.

Vice President for Academic Affairs and Dean of the College Kevin Kraus was one of many faculty and administration members present at the sit-in.

“I’m a Luther faculty member,” Kraus said. “I think it’s great that the kids are saying ‘Stop. Fix what you can fix.’ I think it’s great.”

Sandhya Purohit Caton is a community member who said she showed up to support the Luther students she knows.

“Momentum,” Purohit Caton said when asked what she hoped the sit-in would achieve. “I’ve known of similar incidents over the past 15 years and I’m tired of it happening over and over again. Students will come and go in four years, but over 15 years I’ve  seen this hurt, pain, confusion and fear before; I’ve offered comfort while at the same time felt it deeply myself. This is tiring.”

By the end of the day, over 600 students attended the sit in, and approximately 450 students signed the petition for a required social justice course.

Community liaison for PRIDE Neve Heimer-Lang (‘19) said it was inspiring to see so many students and community members show their support.

“So many people have been here to support not only the LGBTQUIA+ community but also all sorts of different minorities and people who have been targeted in the last couple days,” Heimer-Lang said. “It’s really powerful.”

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