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Day of Shame on SSU

Day of Shame on SSU

Saturday, May 12th was a Day of Shame on Sonoma State University to protest the honorary doctorate degree that was given to former Citigroup CEO Sandy Weill–one of the chief architects of the financial crisis.

This Wall Street fat cat has given $12 million of his ill-gotten money to SSU and is obviously garnering support and leverage from the Board of Trustees. He has pushed the Green family (the original donors for the music center) out of the board. Where will this big money and influence take us next?

Somber protests in the spirit of quiet shame for SSU were contrasted by congratulations for the students.

We were silent and respectful of the fact that this is still an important commencement for the legitimate students who have achieved their  honors, so we reserved the shame only for the university’s Board of Trustees and any involved administrative staff including SSU President Armiñana and Mr. and Mrs. Weill. There was no heckling or jeering of any kind.

The Shame on SSU Coalition is planning future action to call attention to this ongoing shame and to demand revocation of the honorary degrees bestowed upon the Weills. These banksters will not be welcomed in our community and can not hide the wrongs they have done under a cloak of philanthropic diversion.

Note: This information is being conveyed directly from the organizing working group. This donated website only functions as a communication channel for them and for no one else. The working group is made up of many students, faculty and community activists and all information on this site are the fruits of their collective process.
  1. paul johnson says:

    Thanks for making us aware of this. These bankers need to be shamed anytime they come out of their heavily fortified ivory towers.

  2. Briah Gere says:

    For those of us involved in the commencement ceremony (and earned it), what can we do? I LOVE the non-violent and non-disruptive approach, but I wouldn’t mind THAT PART of the ceremony disrupted (that’s what Sandy Weill earned). If you have ideas for how we (those involved in commencement) can participate, or what others will be doing to demonstrate the shame, please post them. Thanks!!!

  3. I do wish leftists wouldn’t use expressions like “shame,” since i’ve noticed moralism gets people to defend their harmful behavior–often by repeating it. However, i hope to be able to get to the action and would like to know what time it starts and exactly where.

  4. I love the non-violent protest and I understand the travesty that is the honorary degree, but this day will be meaningful for a thousand deserving graduates. Personally, I’ve worked my little butt off for 4 years to earn this day. My only questions… Will this protest be taking place during the ceremony? If the protest does become disruptive during the ceremony, have you all discussed ways to quietly remove the distraction?

  5. Rozwaldo says:

    I’m not an SSU student myself, but I think holding a protest of any kind at this particular event is going to be more a punishment for the graduating students and their parents than it will be for Sandy Weill. For them, this is the biggest moment of their lives and for Weill, well he probably won’t bat at eyelash. I appreciate non-violent protests against corruption and bribery but if you want to protest the decision made by the Board of Trustees, do it outside a Board meeting rather than during student commencement.

  6. Matthew says:

    Just some food for thought, but if he donated 12 million dollars chances are it has already been circulated throughout any number of departments. I’m all for holding people accountable, but if even one of us has unknowingly benefited from the 12 million dollars, it seems somewhat hypocritical to protest. Don’t ruin other people’s graduation day over this, he isn’t worth it.

  7. Its a sad day to hear my Alma mater is giving a bank crook an Honorary Degree. She doesn’t even deserve a degree even if she paid to attend your university. Financial Education must be taught in schools again, and I’m not talking economics. It’s called generation to generation wealth transfer and we use to be really good as it as a country till the banks made the government take it out of schools.

  8. Anonymous says:

    Please do not ruin this special day for many people who have worked so hard to arrive at this achievement. That is not fair, and I do not appreciate my special day being compensated because you are mad about something that cannot be changed.

  9. I understand the frustrations you have with this man. However, there will be hundreds of young students who just worked their butts off to earn their degree, and your presence in general is a distrubtive act. I am just incredibly saddened to know that there will be any type of protest at my graduation. I just want a nice peaceful ceremony and what is this protest going to do? It hasn’t stopped SSU from giving him that degree, it hasn’t made this guy any more remorseful of what he did. What it is doing is upsetting a large number of the graduates who want to remember all the good things this day has to bring. So I beg of you please stop your protest, having this protest won’t benefit many people but not having it will benefit much more. Shouldn’t we do what’s for the better good?

  10. Steven says:

    We hear the concerns of the students who want their special day respected loud and clear.

    In fact, we had a vigorous debate as to whether or not to even protest on that day or some other day in respect for the students and their families and friends.

    Unfortunately, SSU has already done much damage and made this political by honoring a villainous non-student **at your commencement**. Would you feel the same way if the King of Syria was being honored at your graduation?

    If any disruption of your ceremony happens, and we hope it doesn’t, it has at its core been caused by the shameful act of honoring a pariah of our society. Even if we called for an end to the protest, some show of disgust is likely if not inexorable.

    Now having said that, everyone I know who is planning to protest says they intend to actively protect the dignity of the ceremony itself.

    If anything at all happens during the ceremony (and that’s a big if), it will only happen at the moment of Weill’s name being mentioned.

    Of course there is a possibility that those trying to discredit such protest movements may purposefully disrupt your ceremony just to make the protesters look bad… and if that happens it will be an added shame on them.

    But please know that the vast majority of us have absolutely no intention of disrupting the rightful honors being bestowed upon commencing students. Again on the contrary, we will be actively protecting your ceremony!

    If any outsiders do disrupt are likely to be in concert with those who have brought this shame on SSU already.

  11. Jessica says:

    No matter what happens, don’t blame the protesters, blame those who brought them here.

    Once the choice was made to honor that crook, the wheels were set in motion–no one could stop them if they wanted to.

    Even if no one called for a protest, you can bet that people (maybe even some crazies) would show up when they found out about this guy being here. It’s the people who decided to bring him here that are causing this whole thing.

  12. It’s not everyone’s decision to give that man an honorary diploma but why do you care what kind of piece of paper he gets? Why are you even wasting your time giving this man any attention?

    I’m just as upset about how he benefited from the financial crisis but at the same time he donated that money and students are benefiting from it. There are classes being held there and events that students love to go to.

    Start to move on from happened in the past because there is no way to change it only ways to prevent it. Prevention starts with what you can do. Start to work on YOUR future and what you can do to protect yourself from ever being hurt in a financial crisis again. There are thousands of reasons as to why we are in this type of economic situation. Focus on educating yourselves about the type of investments you make and the money you borrow and where you put your hard earned money.

    This being said please choose another time to make your protest or “Public Demonstration”. ANY other time except graduation. It’s not as if the students and all their family members chose to bring him here so why would you want to risk any sort of public disturbance? There’s limited seating anyway and it should go to those that supported the students through there college career :)

    I’ll express my concerns about giving this man a piece of paper and hopefully they’ll hear my concerns as well as, all of yours and maybe they’ll back down. If they don’t be the better person and don’t give this man the time of day, he doesn’t deserve it. On this day don’t focus your attention on one stupid man who doesn’t deserve it focus your attention of the students that do.

    We understand that you feel it’s wrong and something needs to be done, but understand there are a lot of parents and students who are worried about there being a disturbance from anyone!

  13. Go Protest against the CSU Board of Trusties they’re the ones that made the final decison. Plus “street theater” what exactly is that? This isn’t a street fair it’s a serious event.

    What do you exactly plan on doing? You say on this page people will be protesting AND participating in a silent message of scorn, well which it? If you’re protesting you’re not being silent. How many people do you plan to have at this protest? Are you going to be interfereing with the seats reserved for partents to see their children grauate? If you’re going to be sitting where you could see this man get his “degree” you’ll be occupying space for those that have earned to be there.
    Are you bringing posters? does that count at silent? Are you going to park on the SSU Campus for this protest? The biggest parking lot that is used for grautation is the Green Music Center parking lot, most likely built with this man’s money. If you park on it you’ll be benefitting from the facility that he helped funded. Little things to think about. Is my 81 year old grandma going to have to walk becuase you protestors are unexpected/ unwelcomed guests taking up the parking? Are you going to be dressed appropriately for this affair? It’s supposed to be a nice occasion so I hope you put on your best.

    There is a serious lack of planning on your part that is what is bringing up many of the worries that the student have.

    This is a graduation and I feel like you’re making this about all of you not about the students. This ceremony shouldn’t be about your opinion on this man or what you believe is right and wrong. You might say that SSU is making this ceremony to be about him but the fact of the matter is, he will be taking up at most 10 minutes through out the whole ceremony. Are you going to leave after that? I hope you do because the other hours that are left in the cermony are about the students.

    If you’re really part of this 99% and care about the needs of your fellow citizens then listen here, stop this protest because the majority of your fellow citizens, the ones that actually earned to be there don’t want you there!

  14. How about if the graduating students turn their back on Mr. Weill as he is being awarded his degree? Harvard students did that to protest Henry Kissinger in the 70′s when he was receiving an honorary degree. I’m graduating and would be happy to recruit my friends in turning their backs to the stage.

  15. Anonymous says:

    I will be one of the graduates Saturday and while I fully support the cause and share the same frustration (as we all do) I’m incredibly dissappointed that your sheer presence on our campus is going to detract from the recognition of the hard work made by hundreds of students. While your intention is to be silent you can’t possibly control or guarantee that one person won’t break that “silence”. I’m very dissappointed in the time and place chosen. In some ways you’re just going to make them look even more justified by giving them attention. On behalf of myself and many other students I respectfully ask that you stay away from the ceremony.

  16. Anonymous says:

    This is great and all…however as a graduating senior, i think its a little unfair to put all of this into action on the day that we have been longing for for the past 4 years. i fully support the idea to have a protest, but it should be taken place in a different setting. Ive worked my butt off for 4 years and i, along with the rest of the class wish for it to be a drama free enviornment where we can focus on our accomplishments.

  17. I will be one of the graduates Saturday and while I fully support the cause and share the same frustration (as we all do) I can say without a doubt that your sheer presence on our campus is going to detract from the recognition of the hard work made by hundreds of students. While your intention is to be silent you can’t possibly control or guarantee that one person won’t break that “silence”. I’m very dissappointed in the time and place chosen. In some ways you’re just going to make them look even more justified by giving them attention. On behalf of myself and many other students I respectfully ask that you stay away from the ceremony.

    Please don’t penalize students ONCE AGAIN for the egregious decisions of educational administrators such as those that represent SSU.

  18. go find something else to do with your time says:

    don’t blame the protestors? what is a protest going to accomplish? nothing. it takes some pretty disrespectful and immature people to protest at a ceremony intended to honor GRADUATING seniors. regardless of the character of this one particular person, a protest is not going to change what has already happened and will ultimately draw away from the purpose of this ceremony altogether.

  19. Anonymous says:

    While I respect your right to a peaceful protest, and even support your motivations behind the protest itself, I don’t think it’s fair to be holding your protest on the day of our graduation.

    I, and many of my fellow students, are very concerned. Is my 89 year old grandmother going to be able to hear my name called as I walk across the stage? Will my family be able to see me receive my diploma, or is their view going to be blocked by posters? Is there going to be less seating and parking for the families of the graduates? It isn’t fair to take a day that is supposed to be a celebration for the graduates, and turn it into something entirely different. It also isn’t fair to have made this decision without involving the student body.

    You say that you mean to have a peaceful and silent protest, but you’ve advertised this all over the newspapers, internet, and the radio. You have no control over who shows up, or how much respect they may or may not have for the rest of the ceremony. You say that there is only a slight chance that the ceremony is disrupted by your protest, but any chance at all is entirely unfair to the graduates. We get one day: one day to celebrate our achievements and to be surrounded by our supporting friends and family.

    By holding the protest on Saturday you are shifting the focus from the graduates entirely. Sometimes this may be appropriate, but in this case it isn’t. I’m surprised and disappointed that members of the faculty are supporting this decision. We deserve our day, please don’t take it away.

  20. Worried Student says:

    Could you imagine going to your graduation and instead of everyone paying attention to the graduates they’re distracted by the “Creative” ways of protesting?

    I don’t go out to your special occasions and protest, why? Because I think it’s disrespectful. I would feel bad knowing I seriously upset someone else. Do you feel bad that you’ve upset me and my piers on our special occasion?

    If you don’t then it doesn’t make you any better than Mr. Weills becuase according to your articles he didn’t feel bad about the financial crisis.

    Would you oppose if Bill Clinton of George W Bush got an honorary degree from SSU? They’re on the same Time Magazine list as Mr. Weill. Have you read the article? or the poll that goes along with it on who deserves the most blame? Let me quote it

    “TIME’s picks for the top 25 people to blame for the financial crisis includes everyone from former Federal Reserve chairman Alan Greenspan and former President George W. Bush to the former CEO of Merrill Lynch and you — the American consumer”

    Don’t forget that each and everyone of our actions but us here as well. Now let’s not make this ceremony anything that it shouldn’t be. Please stop your protest

  21. Are We Sheep? Not me! says:

    I am a student and I think it’s a shame that everyone is so selfish about their ‘special day’. Yes we deserve recognition, and I’m pretty sure we will have it. But doesn’t everyone see the outrage here?

    This guy is a total crook and he is being honored at OUR ceremony! THAT is disruptive! THAT has already ruined our special day. Where are your backbones? This is an outrage. The protesters didn’t do anything (yet) other than bring it to everyone’s attention.

    We students need to organize our own protest within the ceremony so the others can stay at their rally near the Green Center. I heard some of the organizers say they want us to have ownership of anything that happens in the ceremony …and I believe most protesters agree and it seems like outsiders are being steered away from the ceremony.

    We are telling them to stay out… and hopefully they will. But why don’t we show them how we can protest without disrespecting our own ceremony?

    Come on, let’s show everyone what we have learned and stop being afraid to stand for what is right.

  22. Protester says:

    I’m not sure if folks realize this, but taking on Sandy Weill and Citigroup is a very brave act.

    Some students are worried about a possible disruption of their ceremony – but those who are organizing this protest have made an enemy of a very ruthless, rich and well-organized man as well as all of his associates.

    Sure, this may be risking a little solemnity at the ceremony, but we are risking having an army against us. These guys play hard ball and it is likely that there will be casualties in one way or another.

    Do you see what SSU has dragged us into? But we are brave enough to stand up for what is right.

    A little solidarity from the nervous students above would be appreciated here. =) We do honor you more than you know. We are trying to save the CSU system from being sold out to crooks. No less. We do this for future students and their ceremonies too…

  23. I take issue with the author’s sweeping generalization “…we will reserve the shame for the university’s Board of Trustees and the rest of the administrative staff.” I am part of the administrative staff at Sonoma State and I am no less outraged than faculty and students about this disgraceful event. The stereotyping and dehumanization of groups of people was one contributing factor to our country’s financial crisis. Let’s not repeat their mistakes.

  24. site_admin says:

    Thank you. We have corrected this mistake. Our apologies.

  25. Student says:

    I think that we’ve earned the right to be selfish. 1. There shouldn’t be any outsiders there, I don’t how you would ask them not to come or how you would steer them away.Nor, how you are going to be able to control the one outsider that does show up and is out of control 2. I don’t think you’re understanding what the majority of the students are trying to get at here, we don’t want to protest!

    Risk some solidarity some other time, why do you have to protest him now? What do you hope to achieve with this protest?

    All that it seems like you want to protest is the fact that you don’t think he deserves this honorary award. Okay, you’ve expressed that opinion on here, and through the press, everyone knows how you feel. We get it you don’t think this man deserves this award. I’m sure he knows your feelings as well.

    So then what’s the rest of the point of a public protest? Protest through the internet and with your petition, and through the media, but stay away from graduation.

  26. Good for these students for standing up, turning their backs, staying informed ,and exercising their rights. Isn’t that part of what their education is for? They have already stated that ANY act of protest during the commencement will be conducted in a respectful manner. You kids should be proud you are at an institution that is somewhat active and NOT sleeping. Change does NOT come from the top down, it comes from the bottom up. It’s not hard to be a “yes” man, or a “yes” woman.

  27. Kendall says:

    So five years from now when I’m looking back at my graduation day, I want to be able to say we had an awesome commencement AND we stood up against corruption.

    Let’s face it, must of us won’t even have decent jobs by then because of this guy and the back room deals (that are even happening right here of all places).

    But we DO have a shot @ doing something about it AND having a great time doing it with style and even fun. What better way to graduate?

    When I think of the alternative- imagining that we whined so much they called the protest off completely. ill be sitting in my mediocre job thinking, why did we choose the empty Disney moment?

  28. Briah Gere says:

    I can’t believe people are willing to “let things slide” because we don’t want to disrupt things. If anything, this protest signifies that SSU is not willing to sell our souls for a few bucks. There are students benefiting from the $$$, however, they benefitted from the Green money too… where are those benefactors now? No longer a part of the project they started or a part of the board for the Center that will support so many dreams. And, can anyone tell me what connection the Weills have to SSU? My degree (and yes, I am graduating on 5/12) is not dependent on that money and I enjoy the fact that I know my mind has been expanded due to my education, despite my pocket book. To think I can’t get a job in today’s economy, but turn around and honor someone responsible for that, is absurd. Do we need to continue to be cattle and follow suit? I think not. It is uncomfortable to break away, sure. But nothing will change if we continue along the same lines. I believe it was Einstein who said, “the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” Shall we continue to be charged exuberant amounts in tuition, always rising, and settle for larger class sizes because some mogule contributes to it? I think not. While this is one moment in time for “us” (the graduates), it is a moment to mark in the history of SSU… what shall you make of it? I only hope the principles of diversity and value of analysis that SSU preaches, rings true in the students who are set to graduate and we stand against this “degree,” unwilling to stettle for honor someone who hasn’t work as hard, if not harder, for the degree they receive.

  29. Has anyone noticed that Arminano hasn’t come up in this discussion at all?

    Are we afraid of the guy who basically set all this in motion? Look, I’m sure the kingpin of the biggest drug cartel would gladly give us money if we would honor him and let some of their gang members have names on our halls and plazas —but who is supposed to keep that from happening?

    Isn’t everyone mad as hell like I am that they would even pull this crap knowing full well the students would be their human wall to use if anyone found out?

    Students are getting screwed from every possible direction here all because of the decision to take this dirty money (from a guy whos causing higher student debt)and trying to make everyone think this greedy bozo is some kind of hero. It actually makes me physically ill.

    I’m really, really sorry we are all in this situation. Its just sad.

    Personally I lay every bit of the blame on Arminano, even the fact that he snuck it by the SCU Board of Trustees who look to him to disclose ‘potential problems’.

    Back room deals with our lives. Disgusting.

    I hope my rant doesn’t make anyone think I will disrupt the ceremony, cause I wont even be in the state at the time and I wouldn’t anyway.

    I actually dropped out because i couldn’t afford to finish.

  30. Indeed. I hadn’t even thought of all the people who are *not* at this graduation due to Weill and his friends.

    Everyone should sign the petition right away and spread the word. If Armiñano can be persuaded to cancel the “honor” or at least postpone its presentation, the ceremony can turn into a true and more complete celebration.

    Once we present the petition, the ball will be in his court.

  31. Robert B says:

    I just want to say I’m very proud of all who are truly graduating and I wish you the best whether you protest or not.

    For me its too late… I graduated (yes!) but am under heavy debt and still can’t find work two years later. I am basically enslaved.

    So I do this for future students. We can’t let these banksters run rough-shod over us anymore.

    Any students who see the big picture here, now’s your chance to stand up before they clap the chains of your debt on you and throw you in with the other slaves.

  32. No Heart says:

    These protestors are weak at best! They do not have the stones nor brains to carry this out. This will be a great day for our students…….This is all talk, to get a reaction….

  33. Barbara Baer says:

    Shocked and dismayed that the Weills=Wiles were being honored for their banditry and greed, so I don’t think a silent, respectful resistance is at all out of place. It’s important we protest against legitimizing greed, rapacity, indifference, shameful wealth, that the Weills have and use to launder their ‘success’ at the expense of millions here and around the world. When if not now? that’s the question. So I’m there.

  34. Grotesque. Sanford Weill and Citigroup have not only brought misery to SSU students and their families but also to the Democratic Republic of the Congo, where the UN Panel of Experts, in 2001, reported their involvement in laundering money gained by the illegal extraction of minerals and other resources.


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