Student protest: “Institutional failings”

A protest will be held at 11:30 on Sept. 15 by students as a response to a recent speech made by Hamline President Fayneese Miller that has prompted attention online.

Anika Besst and Leo Coughenour

*Updated Sept. 16th*

A protest was organzied by four students on Sept. 15 outside Old Main on the Hamline campus to address “institutional failings.” Students, faculty and staff came throughout the day between classes and other commitments to hear speeches made by members of the Hamline community. Organizers estimated 300 students in attendance.

The organizer’s said their goals were to receive an apology from President Fayneese Miller for remarks made during her speech on Sept. 11 at the Student Organization Leader Workshop and to create the opportunity for an open forum for students to raise concerns with the administration. 

Miller was at a conference out of state and did not attend the protest. 

“Our crowd this morning was inspiring and it was so validating,” protest organizer and sophomore Abi Grace Mart said. “I was ecstatic at the amount of student speakers we had to come up. I’m so glad we were able to do that, that people wanted that. And I think it will really help us solidify our next steps, especially with the public forum.” 

The protest started at 11:30 a.m. and the closing remarks were made by Mart and another protest organizer senior Kinzie McDowell at 5 p.m. Student attendance ranged throughout the day as class periods were in and out of session. 

Students responses ranged with some being excited about the support and others wanting more from administration.  

“I anticipate no positive action from administration because it seems that it is demonstrated that it will be absolutely an uphill battle,” junior Josh Sedarski said. “I know that we as students have power and I’m encouraged that people showed up to exercise that power, not as a show of force, but as unity.”

Hamline’s Food Resource Center and Dean of Students Office offered snacks and Public Safety provided water and coolers to those protesting.


Attendance and speakers 

Those speaking at the protest included: Bisek, McDowell, Perez Cortez, Mart, Jazmin Clausen-Thomas, Julien Halabi, Kimia Kowarsi, Julien Halabi, Catelyn Czywczynski, Sam Crowley, Oly Kasten, Michael Horton, Katie Mikesell, Cameron Stockwell, Josh Sedarski, Travis Matthews, Abigail Carlson, Forestasia Aune, Hayley Magoon, Estell Murray, Sociology Professor Susi Keefe and Alumni An Garagiola.

Members of Hamline staff were in attendance throughout the day including Vice President and Dean of Students Patti Kersten; Assistant Director of Student Activities & Leadership Development Patrick Haught; Dean of the College of Liberal Arts Marcela Kostihova; Dean of the School of Business Beth Gunderson; Sexualities and Gender Diversity Program Director & Deputy Title IX Coordinator t. aaron hans; Associate Dean of Students Carlos Sneed; Associate Provost for Accreditation and Compliance Irina Makarevitch; and Keefe.

“So many of our students are student leaders, are community members, give so much of themselves, and it’s important that we listen. And we hear and we, as a community, move forward in ways that continue to strengthen our university,” Kersten said. “As a student said, this is the beginning.”

Hamline Public Safety was near the site of the protest throughout the day, as well as officers of the St. Paul Police Department were also seen in the morning. 

The protest was also organized by seniors LaNiesha Bisek and junior Brian Perez Cortez. 

Hamline community response 

Members of the Hamline community recognized in many of their comments and speeches that the President was not in office. 

“I think that is unfortunate. I think it would have been nice if it could have been on a day when she was here because I do know students are very important to her and the student experience is very important to her,” Kersten said. 

Kersten stayed for almost the entirety of the protest. Haught said that some student leaders and workers had asked if attending this event would offend him in any way. 

“I do not feel attacked by any students or student leaders attending. It’s good and these things need to be said and heard.” Haught said.   

During the closing remarks, McDowell said how this group is not stopping with the protest.

“Thank you for showing up and standing up to an administration that doesn’t like to listen. We appreciate everyone that has come today, but now it is time to move forward,” McDowell said. “We are here because we care, and we love this community and we are showing up to better it. Moving forward, we’re going to be creating concrete plans and action steps on how we can hold our administration accountable and how we can achieve change.”