St. Louis University alumni protest planned sculpture honoring demonstrations

Donors and alumni of Saint Louis University are up in arms over a proposed sculpture honoring a  protest on school grounds against police brutality.

The plan has led those opposed to the art project to launch a petition demanding plans for the monument be shelved according to the College Fix.

The higher education blog also reports that students are divided on the issue and that a campus forum will be held later this week.

Last October, protestors refused to leave the St. Louis campus and end their demonstration, which was intended to extend the Ferguson, Mo. protests of the previous summer.

Demonstrators flew upside-down American flags and gave speeches and teach-ins on topics like "conscious awakening, systematic oppression, white supremacy, and students' responsibility to the community."

In order to get the protestors to leave, University President Fred Pestello agreed to a list of 13 demands, including that a monument be installed on the quad.

The demands came from the coalition of protestors which included Tribe X, the Metro St. Louis Coalition for Inclusion and Equality, and the Black Student Alliance.

The proposed monument is described as a sculpture slated to fulfill the demand of "mutually agreed upon artwork" and capturing "the spirit and importance of the demonstration and encampment at Saint Louis University on October 13-18, 2014," according to a statement released by the university.

There was no indication of the sculpture's size or what form it might take.

The plans have caused considerable backlash from the alumni community, causing some to say they will stop donating money to the school because they were left out of the decision-making process.

Ken Atkins, a 1958 SLU graduate and former NASA employee, told the St. Louis Business Journal that more than 50 alumni from the university's Parks College of Engineering, Aviation and Technology have discussed their displeasure with the proposed sculpture and accords.

"Almost all of the people said, 'You're not getting another dime out of me,'" he reported.

Mary Trottier, a graduate of SLU's medical school, started the petition and has been collecting signatures from university alumni, benefactors and parents.

Trottier's petition questions the sit-in's dialogue, citing videos of "a vile vulgar incoherent speech, defilement of the American flag, and disrespectful interactions with students." The petition calls for the commission of the sculpture to be deferred, and the agreement further examined.

"...Area protests have consistently and shamefully been highlighted by a lack of respect, and this disrespect has been demonstrated by both verbal and physical violence," reads the petition. "Intolerance of any facts or opposing views has also hindered meetings or efforts that aim at finding solutions.In lieu of actions like these, not to mention the Ferguson riots that ensued after the grand jury decision and the continued violence that borders the outskirts of SLU's campus, we question the appropriateness and haste of erecting a statue honoring the recent protests that occurred on campus. We also question the appropriateness of signing ANY agreements with ANY protestors at ANY time and for ANY reason."

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