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Questions and Answers About the KWOC Protests at Macalester

What action do KWOC students want the college to take and why?

In response to community concern about foreclosure and community reinvestment activity, students of KWOC requested that Macalester sever its ties with Wells Fargo.  Macalester’s relationship with Wells Fargo is limited to the college’s purchasing card program.  The college’s Vice President and Associate Vice President for Finance consulted extensively with the students, with banks, and with community groups following receipt of KWOC’s request.  You may read their final response here.

What was the action that resulted in the students being referred to the Conduct Board?

During the KWOC protest, the 17 students who barricaded the doors to Weyerhaeuser Hall during business hours violated college policy and community standards by infringing on rights of others and disrupting the operations of the college.  As a result, they were required to appear before the Conduct Board.

What is the role and composition of the Conduct Board?

The Conduct Hearing Board is authorized to make decisions of responsibility in cases of alleged violation of College policy. A Conduct Hearing Board consists of two students and two staff/faculty, selected from a pool of members, and a chair designated by the Dean of Students. 

Why were students disciplined for participating in KWOC activities?

Macalester has not and will not discipline students for involvement with sit-ins, protests or demonstrations that are not in violation of college policies.  Student responsibilities are clearly stated in the Macalester Student Handbook.  Students who choose to engage in behavior or activities that violate the conduct code face consequences for their actions.  Some, but not all, of the students participating in KWOC demonstrations faced disciplinary consequences because they took specific actions that were in violation of college policies.

Were sanctions against the 17 students unusual?

No. The sanctions were commensurate with the violations and in line with previous recommendations from the Conduct Board.  The fact that these students were involved with the KWOC group did not result in more severe disciplinary action.   

Are KWOC students being denied the opportunity to participate in study abroad, internships, or sports?

The conduct board can place students on disciplinary probation which automatically includes restrictions on student participation in sports, leadership in student organizations, study away and internships. None of the students involved in the KWOC protests are being denied participation in study abroad or opportunities for internships. 

Did the KWOC students referred to the Conduct Board know that their actions were a violation of college policy?

Student responsibilities are clearly stated in the Macalester Student Handbook.  Students who choose to engage in behavior that violates the conduct code face consequences for their actions.  The student handbook states: Conduct which is harmful to or infringes on the rights of others, which disturbs the orderly functioning of the college, undermines the standards of the college, or which is in violation of college policies and regulations is not acceptable. The handbook also clearly outlines the disciplinary process and associated consequences.

Did KWOC students conduct other actions during the year for which they did not receive punishment?

Yes.  KWOC students held demonstrations on campus both inside and outside college buildings including a sit-in in the President’s Office and Weyerhaeuser Hall lasting several days.  They also orchestrated a campaign to deluge the President’s email account with messages and conducted a phone campaign to call and disrupt the work of the President’s Office.  During the sit-in in Weyerhaeuser Hall, one student urinated in a litter box in the President’s Office.  None of these actions resulted in punishment.

Does the probation that the KWOC students received create a "chilling effect" for student activism on campus?

Macalester has a long and supportive history of student activism and tolerates, supports and respects student protests and other expressions of free speech. Each academic year student groups engage in assemblies, protests and demonstrations. Such events are primarily concerned with larger societal issues, but occasionally include disagreement with college policies or administrative decisions. Such events or activities are a natural component of college life in a democratic society. Macalester has not and will not discipline students for involvement with sit-ins, protests or peaceful demonstrations that are not in violation of college policies.

Macalester continues to support and encourage student activism and remains committed to engaging with student groups in meaningful dialogue around societal and college issues while holding students accountable to established community conduct standards. Respectful and civil discourse should be the model for student activism and civic engagement.

Will the College be reconsidering its decisions concerning the purchasing card contract with Wells Fargo?

No.  After a thorough investigation of the issue the college decided to remain with Wells Fargo for the purchasing card program.  The reasons are provided in detail in the report linked above.

Will the college be reconsidering its decisions on placing students on probation as a result of recent media attention? 

No.  Students have the right to appeal Conduct Board decisions and several students have exercised that right.

Are KWOC students encouraging alumni not to donate to the college?

Yes.  KWOC students have emailed alumni and held several meetings with alumni on campus.  An alumni petition has started online that asserts that the college placed students on probation for conducting peaceful protests.  This is factually incorrect. The 17 students who barricaded the doors to Weyerhaeuser Hall during business hours violated college policy and community standards by infringing on rights of others and disrupting the operations of the college.  Students who participated only in other forms of protest were not placed on probation or brought before the conduct board.

The college will not—in this instance or in others—make decisions about disciplinary or business policies on the basis of threats by some to withhold financial support.  All gifts are accepted with gratitude, and all decisions not to give to Macalester are respected.

How widespread was the student participation in KWOC activities this year?

KWOC consists of around 30 students.  There have been expressions of dissatisfaction from other students with the KWOC protests and tactics.