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Saint Louis University students demand school ‘decolonizes education’ and disarm campus police

School has a history of caving into demands

Students at a Catholic university in Missouri have demanded the school comply with a list of 11 demands.

Saint Louis University students released their list on September 25, including a demand that the college “decolonizes education.” This includes “decentering whiteness” and “dismantling white supremacy,” according to a copy of the demands posted by St. Louis Public Radio.

Ashlee Lambert, a graduate student, led the effort. She started the list of demands in response to her disappointment to the non-indictment of two of the three police officers involved in the fatal Louisville shooting of Breonna Taylor, according to the public radio station.

Lambert did not respond to two requests for comment from The College Fix via Facebook messaging.

She first chalked Taylor’s name at the school’s Clock Tower, a popular student activism site, but found her messages written over by someone blaming Taylor for her death.

MORE: Cornell professors demand university ‘decolonize’ curricula

“At the end of the day, we need actions, we need something to be done about this,” Lambert told the radio station.

“It’s not just about the chalk, it’s deeper than that, it’s the fact that these students think that they can do that and get away,” she said. “It’s the fact that we deal with so much and that we don’t have the support.”

A demand asks campus officials to “Disarm DPS,” which refers to the campus police department.

The students also want the school to create a course that discusses SLU’s history with slaves and indigenous people. The Jesuit priests who started the university brought several slaves with them to Missouri in 1823.

The activists also want university administrators to remove the names of three buildings that are named for people who also owned slaves.

Other demands include increased funding for mentorship for “BIPOC,” a reference to black, indigenous and people of color. The students also want to see increased wages and benefits for campus workers.

“We have a majority Black and Brown staff here” who work as campus workers, student activist Ryan Staples said. The workers “deserve the same rights that everyone else does and they deserve to have the same equity that everyone else does in their position,” Staples explained to the radio station.

Campus officials, including Fred Pestello, the school’s president, met with the activists. The school’s diversity officer, Jonathan Smith, told St. Louis Public Radio “we are including those [demands] in our consideration and conversation of all of those things that have been brought to us.”

Smith said that the demands are similar to other demands they received during the summer.

That July 2020 list, released on Medium.com, included disarming campus police and increasing access to Pestello.

Smith did not respond to multiple emailed requests for comment from The Fix, nor did the school’s media relations office.

The university has a history of accepting demands from student activists. Six years ago a group called “Occupy SLU” camped out on campus asking for a series of changes from the university. It came after the shooting of Michael Brown in nearby Ferguson.

Pestello agreed to many demands from the activists, though he denied paying off the protesters to get them to leave.

MORE: Saint Louis University gives students protesting tips ahead of Brown verdict

IMAGE: Photographee.eu/Shutterstock

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About the Author
Rachelle Hernandez -- Liberty University