The student coalition to reinstate African American studies professor Anthony Monteiro is now circulating a petition and planning to walk out of class Wednesday, April 9, as part of an “all April long” effort.
Students for Monteiro, the coalition between People Utilizing Real Power and Temple Democratic Socialists, consists of a core of about 30 students who since March 31 have gathered signatures and distributed fliers and pamphlets near the Bell Tower and on Polett Walk.
“We’re shooting for 1,000 [signatures],” sophomore music therapy major and TDS president Stephen Cozzolino said. “We set a goal for 50 a day and we’ve actually been getting about 100 a day. It’s going well so far.”
On the afternoon of Friday, April 4, when the group was gathering their belongings to avoid the impending rain, the petition had more than 400 signatures.
The petition made four demands: to reinstate Monteiro with tenure, fire Dean of the College of Liberal Arts Teresa Soufas, have students and community members on the Board of Trustees and “create a mutually beneficial relationship between the community and the university.”
“We want to get student power on campus,” political science major and PURP member Paul-Winston Cange said, adding that his goal was 2,000 signatures.
Cozzolino said the pedestrian response had been mostly positive.
“Not everyone knows about the issue,” Cozzolino said. “But once we explain it to them, they sign.”
Cozzolino said that Molefi Asante, the chair of the African American studies department, came to the petitioners’ table in front of the Bell Tower to state his position on the Monteiro case.
Along with Soufas, Asante has drawn heat from the protestors for his perceived role in Monteiro’s contract not being renewed. Soufas has said the decision was made in collaboration with the department due to a shift in academic focus.
Asante and Monteiro didn’t respond to multiple requests for comment.
“[Cozzolino] didn’t know it was Asante,” freshman undeclared and TDS member Andrew Mattei said. Mattei said Cozzolino tried to get Asante to sign the petition, mentioning Asante by name in his “pitch.”
“You could see the looks of terror on [the petitioners’] faces when they found out it was [Asante],” Mattei said.
The walkout is planned for Wednesday at 1 p.m. in front of the Bell Tower. Joie Wu, a freshman economics major and TDS member, said the coalition plans to start a rally once the walkout begins.
PURP member and junior secondary education in social studies major Walter Smolarek said the walkout’s purpose is to “put additional pressure on the administration.” Students for Monteiro’s last meeting with the administration was on March 14 with Ken Lawrence, senior vice president for government, community and public affairs.
“We’ve seen communication between us and the administration really break down since then,” Smolarek said. “We need to let them know this wasn’t a one-off thing.”
Joe Brandt can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at @JBrandt_TU.