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Fort Lewis College Administration silenced Students and Threatened another Kent State could happen if they protested on campus

September 8, 2011

As we enter into a new semester will fort lewis college administration continue to ignore students rights and concerns
We shall see but we must not forget or allow time to go by without knowing what are the issues from last year never solved on Fort Lewis College
Well here is one of many issues that can’t go ignored.

November 17, 2010
FLC President Dene Kay Thomas Brings up Kent State Shootings
At Fort Lewis College in Durango, Colorado an urgent letter was
released altering the fort Lewis and Durango community about a
meeting that took place between FLC president Dene Thomas, Provost
Steven Roderick and two students. Concern was raised because of the
methods used by the president and the Provost of the college with
regards to student input. Not only did the students concerns fall
on deaf ears, but we feel there was an attempt to silence us. Most
surprising of which is an analogy President Thomas made to FLC and
Ken State. Please read the narrative below explaining the meeting
in further detail.
November 15th, 2010
The following narrative is a jointly written document concerning
the meeting held on Friday November 12th, between FLC students,
Jake Brettin and Alex Pullen, and FLC President Dene Kay Thomas and
Provost Stephen Roderick. As students who were invited by the
President to her office to talk, we feel our voices were not heard
and, moreover, an attempt was made to silence us.
On the morning of Friday November 12th, Alex Pullen received a
friendly email from President Thomas explaining that she would like
to chat and continue a conversation that President Thomas and Alex
had the day prior walking to her car. Alex responded, accepted the
invitation and brought fellow student Jake Brettin to the meeting,
assuming she wanted to continue talking about the recent removal of
Tina Evans from the Environmental Studies Program. We went to the
President’s office, met Dene Kay Thomas and were surprised to also
see Provost Steven Roderick at the meeting.
After introductions, the President stated that she received an e-
mail describing a peaceful protest that we and other students were
planning for Monday, November 15th. We tried to speak on the goals,
concerning the desired outcome of the proposed peaceful sit-in.
But, instead of having a productive discussion regarding the
communication issues between students and administration, a blame-
game began. President Thomas started by making an analogy that, we
felt, demeaned all students involved in the rally and march held
two weeks ago. Her analogy was that the student protests were like
contesting a speeding ticket by going down to the courthouse with a
large group of friends and screaming from the sidewalk, stamping
and waving signs around.
This insulting and unproductive conversation continued and
President Thomas focused on the idea that the students had not
pursued all the available means of contesting Professor Evans’s
removal, even though over the last two weeks students held a rally
and marched into Berndt Hall to talk to the administration. The
ASFLC Student Senate also passed an Emergency Resolution in favor
of Professor Evans’s reinstatement, and numerous letters were
written to the FLC administration and the local newspapers. Prior
to this meeting, none of the student-led actions above gained even
a wink from the FLC administration. President Thomas’s solution to
our problem was to look into the faculty handbook and consult the
school’s policies.
President Thomas then explained school procedures and asked us if
we had talked with Professor Evans about the matter. President
Thomas went on to say if Professor Evans has not pursued the
grievance policies herself, why are you pursuing them for her? Then
she said, does that make you feel like a pawn? We felt that this
statement was an attempt to turn us against our professor, mentor
and friend, to get us to question our motives and drop the issue.
Most surprisingly, the conversation then turned to the potential
hazards of a peaceful protest when President Thomas brought up the
shooting that took place at Kent
State in 1970. As neither of us were familiar with the details of
the shooting, President Thomas and Provost Roderick went on to
explain the significance of this event in their lives. Provost
Roderick explained seeing a front page newspaper picture of a
female student holding her friend in a pool of blood. Then they
both went on to explain that to this day the university doesn’t
know what to do with the spot where the shooting took place and
that the location will forever be a blight upon the campus. They
also explicitly conveyed that this tragedy was the students’ fault.
They told us that the unarmed students were fired upon by the
National Guard because they were told to stop moving and the
students disobediently moved forward.
After that gruesome note, the topic was generously changed by
Provost Roderick. We responded by trying to re-state our peaceful
mission and desire for open communication. While Alex was talking
on the matter, President Thomas leaned her head onto her hand and
smiled in a very patronizing and demeaning way. Her verbal response
to our agenda was playful and curt, yet she seemed not to
understand what we had just said. Then Roderick chimed in, stating
that our meeting time was drawing to a close. President Thomas and
Provost Roderick explained how both of them have open door
policies, and if we had any more concerns or questions to let them
know. Even though both of these administrators explained their open
door policies, we feel that at any future meetings our concerns
would not be taken seriously.
We as students feel there is a lack of communication and
transparency regarding the future of Tina Evans at Fort Lewis
College. We also feel this lack of communication is symptomatic of
the general lack of transparency, student inclusion, and input in
administrative policies. In talking with the administration, our
goal was, and is, to hold an open and public discussion so that
these concerns can be heard by all parties involved. V

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