CAUS barricades door to Board of Trustees meeting

Ahead of final vote on University budget, student protesters want more voice in AU's finances

CAUS barricades door to Board of Trustees meeting

Public Safety officials attempt to move student protesters blocking the door to the Board of Trustees meeting. CREDIT: JARED ANGLE / THE EAGLE

Eight members of a protest group called the Coalition of American University Students (CAUS) blocked the door to Butler Boardroom Feb. 22 ahead of the AU Board of Trustees' final vote on the University budget for the next two years.

Department of Public Safety officers showed up almost immediately and brought out flexcuffs. Public Safety backup arrived at 7:52 a.m.

The officers asked for the AU IDs of the protesters and told them to leave. After trying to move the protesters, officers began escorting the trustees through the other door to the boardroom on the sixth floor of Butler Boardroom.

"[The protesters are] not harming anyone," Phil Morse, senior director of Public Safety, said.

Vice President' of Campus Life Gail Hanson later came out to answer the protesters' questions and promised to take CAUS' complaints to the Board.

When the protest ended around 10 a.m., the eight protesters had been joined by four more CAUS members, two Public Safety officers, University Chaplain Joe Eldridge and Assistant Vice President of Campus Life Fanta Aw.

Complaints and promises

Protesters, in an impromptu meeting with Hanson, said they were disappointed with last night's town hall with Board of Trustees Chairman Jeff Sine and that it was "far below what the bare minimum is needed for real dialogue on these issues," protester Niusha Nawab, a sophomore in the College of Arts and Sciences, said.

"We, as students, have no power besides the direct action we're taking," Nawab said.

In the past, CAUS, which stands for the Coalition of American University Students, called for a tuition freeze, The Eagle previously reported. The student protesters also held a rally outside President Neil Kerwin's home in November.

When Hanson asked the protesters to work through their Student Government and student trustee representatives, protesters said they had tried many times to work with SG to voice their concerns.

"There's an obvious disconnect," protester Katie Plank, a freshman in the School of International Service, said.

Hanson told the protesters the Board increased the tuition discount rate, the amount of tuition returned through financial aid.

Staff writer Jared Angle contributed to this report.

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