Student and community members protesting the dismissal of African American studies professor Anthony Monteiro interrupted a meeting of the Board of Trustees general bodyMonday, forcing an impromptu and private meeting between several of the protestors and top university officials.
The board meeting began with a memorial dedication to George Moore, secretary to the Board of Trustees and university counsel, who died on March 2.
The board also approved the executive committee’s recommendation to borrow $30 million to cover expenses from April through June of this year, as well as the agendas of the other committees.
During the announcement of a new department in the College of Liberal Arts, the protests began. Sacaree Rhodes, a representative of the African Daughters of Fine Lineage Community, stood and shouted, “Where are the black people on this board?” at Chairman Patrick J. O’Connor and the rest of the trustees.
O’Connor then told Rhodes and the other protesters, who chanted “justice for Monteiro,” that they were out of order and promised to speak with them in another room when new business could be raised.
After the meeting, the protesters demanded to meet with O’Connor and President Theobald, who had resigned to the president’s offices. The protesters staged a sit-in in the lobby of the president’s offices for approximately half an hour. The protestors agreed to end the sit-in and elect several representatives to meet in a private discussion with university representatives.
Monteiro, and his supporters sat in a circle across from O’Connor, Theobald, Senior Vice President of Government, Community and Public Affairs Ken Lawrence, Athletic Director Kevin Clark and Special Assistant to the President Bill Bergman.
Monteiro and the protestors told the university administrators that the decision not to renew Monteiro’s contract was made because Dean of the College Liberal Arts Theresa Soufas’ feared Monteiro’s outspoken rhetoric.
Theobald and O’Connor responded that they were not informed on all of the specifics of the case and wished to hold further meetings to discuss the mater.
Towards the end of the meeting, while on his way out to teach his class, Theobald was asked if he had ever visited the Charles L. Blockson Afro-American Collection, a library and museum dedicated to African-American history in Sullivan Hall one floor below where Theobald’s office is located and this meeting was held. Theobald said that he “had not been invited,” and thus never visited.
Joe Brandt can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter @JBrandt_TU.