Staff and faculty perspectives on protest

Staff that attended the protest gave their thoughts during and after the Sept. 15 event.

Eliza Hagstrom, Guest Reporter

Students gathered on the lawn of Old Main on Sept. 15 to protest against the words President Fayneese Miller said on Sept. 11 in the Student Organization Leader Workshop. The organizers of this protest acknowledge that these words impacted more than just the students, they impacted the staff and faculty of this university as well. 

Patrick Haught was the organizer of the workshop and the one who invited Miller to speak. Miller was asked to briefly describe her role on campus, encourage the leaders and welcome them back for the new year during her speech. 

“My request to the President was to come speak at the org workshop, to address the student leaders, to excite and engage them going into the year, to talk about the impact and importance of their work and of involvement. And I did welcome her to talk about her goals for the year ahead, and how student orgs can help work towards them,” Haught said. “I think I anticipated that to be more around like retention and engagement, but the reality is that I did welcome her to talk about her goals and fundraising is one of her top goals. It wasn’t what I expected the focus to be.” 

Haught described Miller’s three main goals for the year: fundraising for the university, improving and raising the universities retention rate and getting students to stay and graduate from Hamline and improving the inclusivity and diversity in all aspects of the university. 

“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.  

Vice President and Dean of Students Patti Kersten was at the protest for almost the entirety.

“In many ways, this is great. Our students need to be able to gather. Students need to be able to share concerns, students need to be able to have a voice. My role is about creating that. My role also is to be able to communicate that in many ways and … some of what I’m hearing is there may be some disconnect,” Kersten said.

 Dean of the College of Liberal Arts Marcela Kostihova echoed Kersten’s concerns. She made an appearance at the event hoping to hear what students have to say. 

“Overall I would say everyone that I work with at Hamline … everyone cares deeply about students. The fact that students feel the need to organize means that we’ve failed and we need to do better,” Kostihova said.

Associate Professor of Sociology Susi Keefe returned to campus during her sabbatical to speak at this protest. Keefe’s speech opened with her stating how honored she is that students reached out to her for support, seeing her as someone who will advocate for them. 

“In moments like this, deeply challenging moments, I’m inspired by bell

hooks – social activist best known for her work on race, feminism and class. I want to read a quote from her: ‘The moment we choose to love we begin to move against domination, against oppression. The moment we choose to love we begin to move towards freedom, to act in ways that liberate ourselves and others. That action is the testimony of love as the practice of freedom.’” Keefe said in her speech. 

Keefe also heavily focused on the concept of ‘institutional betrayal.’

“I applaud your spirit, your fight and your love – for yourselves, for your peers, for your communities. Your actions can be the testimony of love and courage to make our community better.” Keefe said.

*Some of this content was published in a Sept. 15 article at