Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Negotiations, Concessions Led to End of Occupy SLU Protest; FERGUSON POLICE SHOOTING

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Negotiations, Concessions Led to End of Occupy SLU Protest; FERGUSON POLICE SHOOTING

Article excerpt

For six days last week, protesters lived in tents near St. Louis University's clock tower, flying an upside-down American flag and talking to students as they walked by about inequality and systemic racism.

For many on campus, Occupy SLU was a polarizing event that garnered support from a significant number of people on campus, confused others and triggered hostility from many, including some parents, who wanted the protesters gone.

The latter group got their wish on Saturday when protesters packed up their tents and left.

What seemed like an abrupt ending to a protest that many people suspected could linger for several weeks, was actually the result of negotiations between SLU's new president and protest organizers.

The result is an agreement spelled out in a document detailing 13 steps SLU will take to address poverty and racial inequality in St. Louis.

Some say the university was backed into a corner and forced to make concessions, others accused protesters of losing their resolve after several nights sleeping outside, while still others said the group was forcefully evicted once university leaders lost patience.

Both sides disputed those claims this week, agreeing in separate interviews that progress had been accomplished.

"My goal throughout was to come up with a peaceful resolution," SLU President Fred Pestello said. "It's clear that we all wanted the same things."

Some of the more significant items SLU agreed to in the resolution include a larger budget for the university's African- American Studies program; more money to keep black students from dropping out; and the establishment of a K-12 bridge program to increase the number of college-bound children in the Normandy and Shaw neighborhoods.

Pestello acknowledged those agreements could potentially carry a significant price tag, but he said the university had not come up with cost estimates for each item or timetables for their completion. …

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