Protesters “Storm” Parkhurst

Remember that interview where President Kim stated that he wanted students to “symbolically storm Parkhurst“? No? Well, it actually happened today.

Well, storm may be too strong a term. There was no property damage done and everyone was more or less civil. There were only two tie-dye shirts and one of them turned out to be a Ben and Jerry’s t-shirt. Anyways, after receiving the Blitz in the previous post, I caught a lucky break when my midterm finished at 3:20. I was able to run back to my dorm and grab my camera and Dictaphone. I proceeded to swing back by Parkhurst and managed to catch the protesters as they were organizing. I counted twenty-six of them initially and the number varied throughout the protest, dropping towards the end.

I learned the event wasn’t widely publicized. It had been organized by Tim Bolger ’10. As was made clear in my previous post, the point was to deliver a letter to President Kim, which one of the members of the protest was kind enough to Blitz to me and can be read in its entirety here. A quote or two to give you an idea of its content:

In the spirit of the students that took over Parkhurst in protest of the Vietnam War and built slums on the Green to protest apartheid, we accept your challenge to take on the world’s problems as our own with the belief that as committed and passionate individuals we can promote positive and lasting change. Climate change is an issue of great urgency for which Dartmouth students are ready and willing to address, but we need your support. We envision a Sustainable Dartmouth as a place that produces no net greenhouse gas emissions, uses renewable sources of energy, models a cradle-to-cradle system for waste management, and promotes sustainable behaviors among its students, staff, and faculty. A Sustainable Dartmouth is integral to the mission and future of the College as a place to practice creative and experiential leadership that may be adapted to the world beyond.

And their demands–well, demands is definitely the wrong term to use. The way it’s worded, it’s almost more like it’s a series of suggestions.

  • Make the necessary investment that will hedge against the risk of high future energy costs, double our energy efficiency efforts, and replace our dependence on No. 6 oil with renewables.
  • Appoint an Energy Research and Advisory Committee to help develop conservation and efficiency policies, raise the funds necessary for a transition to renewable energy sources, and build partnerships with the town, state, businesses, and other colleges and universities.
  • Make sustainability efforts a core part of Dartmouth’s next capital campaign.
  • Provide more staff support for implementing these policies and programs through the Sustainability Office.

There is a true opportunity for leadership in addressing climate change and making sustainability an institutional priority at Dartmouth. We hope that you accept this challenge in partnership with students and that together we can create a more sustainable campus, community, and world.

When the clock struck 3:50 (apparently an allusion to this), somebody let loose a cry of “Leeroooy, Jenkiiins!” (yes, seriously) and we all walked up the steps and into Parkhurst.

Unfortunately for the intrepid protesters, President Kim was in a meeting and it was unknown when it would finish, most likely around five-thirty. The group elected to stick around and wait rather than just leave the letter for him. The secretary went to inform President Kim of the crowd outside his door and the sit-in commenced. One fellow remarked aloud that he felt like he should’ve shaved because he was going to be meeting the President.

I asked another protester, the same one who was kind enough to Blitz me the letter, why they were protesting. He told me it was about the administration’s inaction on climate change. When I pointed out that we’d had several buildings built to be environmentally friendly, he said we could be doing, “so much more with our resources.”

While we were waiting, people spread out into the hallway and settled into the chairs–and the floor–in the reception area. I glanced at the posters downstairs which I had briefly noted as we walked in. They were posters for the Dartmouth Sustainability Initiative, which can also be seen in Baker-Berry library. It struck me as a little odd that they were there to protest when the administration cared enough to put their posters behind glass in Parkhurst (Marissa Knodel ’09, one of the protesters, is featured on the leftmost poster).

A ways into the sit-in, a slightly befuddled Senior VP Kadish met with the protesters and tried to talk them out of it. The group held firm and the aforementioned Marissa Knodel ’09 informed Kadish that she had been in the office several times trying to schedule a meeting and had been told the earliest she could meet with President Kim would be the winter term. Kadish retreated a bit, telling the students that he really did, “appreciate what [they’re] doing,” because he, “stood right where [the protesters] are standing.” He suggested the two groups huddle and work out a deal. It was no good; Bolger’s group held their ground.

Somebody brought in Ben and Jerry’s ice cream to fortify them while they waited. I considered running and grabbing something from FoCo when somebody whistled. Kim had emerged from his meeting. It was showtime.

I apologize for the somewhat lousy quality of the videos. My camera isn’t the best and people weren’t speaking particularly loudly. The group scheduled a meeting with President Kim for tomorrow morning at 8:00. I headed back to my dorm, only to encounter this lady on the corner of Wheelock and Main, which is a favorite for folks who want to protest something.

To be clear, the lady has nothing to do with the protest at Parkhurst, I just found her day-glo sign, which is nearly as big as she is, to be humorous.