LGBTQ supporters protest in Johnson Hall after program cuts
Students are protesting at Johnson Hall today about positions in LGBT Education and Support Services programs being cut.
About 30 protesters started at the Health Center and marched down 13th Avenue, carrying signs that said things like “The UO exploits LGBTQ/POC labor” and “support queer services,” while chanting “President Schill you’re rich and rude. We don’t like your attitude.” The protest funneled into Johnson Hall where students began a sit-in in the lobby that is scheduled until 5 p.m. today.
Max Jensen, who led the protest, said they are sitting in Johnson Hall because of a loss of professional staff for LGBTQ services. Right now there are two staff members, but Jensen said that there will no longer be any professionals running the LGBT programs for the next six to eight months. When a staff member returns they will have a downgraded position with less pay. LGBTQ support services are also losing a GTF staff member.
Tobin Klinger, a UO spokesman, said the position will be changed from a director and an assistant director to a “program coordinator.” The new coordinator position will handle more of the day-to-day services of the program and less of the administrative duties.
“The commitment is that there won’t actually be a cut in services for the group,” Klinger said.
ASUO made the final decision to not hire a second staff member after the position change, and the graduate school made the final decision not to fund the GTF position, according to Klinger.
Jensen said that the protests are meant to put pressure on administration and to let them know they want the Dean to Students office to help them.
“Most of our students come to this campus because they think they are going to be going to a queer friendly, trans friendly school, but when they get here they are disillusioned to find that shit like this happens,” Jensen said.
The protestors were not able to tape or tie their balloons to the columns in front of Johnson Hall, and they could not stand in front of the entrance, but they were allowed to chant in the lobby and upstairs. Protesters got as loud as 92 decibels, which is as loud as a train whistle from 500 feet away.
Helen Richardson, another protestor, believes that the sit-in will help them get back the services that are being cut.
“I do think it’s going help because we’re not just doing a rally, we also gave same suggestions of services that we need currently,” Richardson said.
— Will Campbell (@wtcampbell) April 21, 2017
Noah McGraw contributed reporting to this article.
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