As students filed into the Coffee House at 10 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 25, Kaylee Pope, Grand Rapids senior, began to etch a simple phrase in bold lettering on the chalkboard that would be the focus for the night’s conversation. The phrase read, “THIS MATTERS TO US.”
The phrase transcribed by Pope was originally created by Albion alum Katy Van de Putte . Van de Putte stresses that whether “THIS” is a department or even the idea of saving the principle of liberal arts, students on Albion’s campus need to realize and rally behind what is important about their education. The goal is that with enough students supporting the idea that an elimination of faculty is both unnecessary and a threat to academics, the Board of Trustees will take notice and reconsider their plan of action, according to Pope.
“We, as students, have a voice in this matter,” Pope said.
As a response to the memorandum delivered to students on Feb. 24 by Donna Randall, college president, regarding the cuts, Pope and Greg Hodges, Rochester Hills senior, created the idea for a group known as Keeping Liberal Arts at Work (KLAW), with the help of several students.
Initially, Karen Linderborg, Palos Park, IL sophomore and KLAW member, formed a Facebook group to spread the message of KLAW. Within the two days leading up to their scheduled public forum at the coffee house, their group had grown to almost 900 members and their forum filled the house, with students standing from wall to wall.
“I’m not normally a protest person, but when I came to Albion, I grew to love this institution,” of education and water down the value of my diploma (which is what I think this elimination would do).” said James McRae, a Charlotte junior in attendance. “This change will not only affect current, but future students as well, and I couldn’t stand to see this college disregard the value
At the forum, the leaders of KLAW presented their ideas about how cuts directly affect students and laid out their plan of organized action.
“What we’re talking about tonight is inquiry, cooperative action and taking a stand,” said Abigail Walls, Dearborn sophomore and KLAW member. “It’s going to show that we care — that we’re taking a stand, that we’re inquisitive and that we want to work towards a solution.”
KLAW’s plan included a seven-day protest that began Friday, Feb. 26. The group is urging all students to attend the student senate meeting on Monday, March 1 where Randall and Susan Conner, provost, will be present to answer students’ questions. There, KLAW plans to present a student-signed petition as well as a letter expressing the concerns of KLAW and KLAW’s supporters to administration and the Board of Trustees.
“We want to get across to administration that we do care, and that we are going to take action,” Hodges said. “The Board of Trustees will realize that there is no apathy on the part of the students—this matters to us.”