Students for Monteiro, the student coalition supporting the reinstatement of African American studies professor Anthony Monteiro, drew heightened security around Main Campus and was promised a meeting with Provost Hai-Lung Dai during two demonstrations last week.
The student-protesters, accompanied by Monteiro’s community supporters, marched around Main Campus and held a rally at Sullivan Hall on April 16, where they protested the week before. Students disrupted the Provost’s Lecture Series with trustee and media mogul H.F. “Gerry” Lenfest the next day.
During the Q-and-A portion of Lenfest’s speech, coalition member and junior political science major Felix Nnumolu asked Lenfest if he was aware of Monteiro’s situation. Lenfest replied that he was, but said Monteiro’s situation was part of a procedure and declined to comment further.
Brett Wise, a junior political science major and another coalition member, said he approached Dai after the event, and he promised to meet with Wise “sometime before graduation.”
“For [Dai] not to make time for students seems kind of irrational,” Wise said.
In anticipation of the April 16 protest, Temple police officers were outside Anderson and Gladfelter halls and security guards were checking identification at the front doors instead of inside. The protesters did not march to these buildings.
“We just want people to feel safe,” Acting Executive Director of Campus Safety Services Charlie Leone said. “We don’t know what [the protesters] are going to do. It’s just a precaution.”
Prior to the march, about 15 students were in the Charles L. Blockson Collection in Sullivan Hall before they were told to leave for “security reasons,” junior political science major and coalition member Paul-Winston Cange said.
Temple police officers were also posted at the entrance to Sullivan Hall and crowd control barriers were again in place on Beasley Walk by the time the protesters arrived.
Between 70 and 80 people gathered for the rally to hear speeches by students, community members, activists and Monteiro himself.
“The university’s behavior over the past year regarding the African American studies department has been totally dishonest and totally dishonorable,” Glen Ford, the executive editor of the Black Agenda Report, said. “It’s a deplorable example of racist and cutthroat capitalist behavior.”
“Allow my firing to stand,” Monteiro said in his roughly 20-minute speech. “I can tell you, President Theobald, in fact I can guarantee it, that you will be held in utter contempt by your neighbors in North Philadelphia.”
Monteiro, a non-tenure track associate African American studies professor, was notified in February that his contract would not be renewed for the next academic year. Students for Monteiro claimed the decision was a “retaliatory firing” in response to his activism and called for the firing of College of Liberal Arts dean Teresa Soufas, student representation on the Board of Trustees and better relations between Temple and the surrounding community.
Joe Brandt can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @JBrandt_TU.