Q: Sandy Who? What are you protesting?
A: Sanford (Sandy) Weill, former CEO of Citigroup and one of the chief architects of the Great Recession, gave $12 Million to SSU. In exchange for this, he is being given an honorary degree in Humane Letters (an honor usually bestowed upon those with a long history of humanitarian or community support). Our university system is not for sale!
Q: Why is that important?
A: Time Magazine placed Sandy Weill on the Top 25 list of people to blame for the Financial Crisis we are experiencing. Students are hurting because of the life’s work of this man. He owns a trophy that reads: “Shatterer of Glass-Steagall”. He is unrepentant about the lives he has ruined, including those of students who have been saddled with much higher debt than they would have been absent his influence.
A: The exchange of degrees for obscene amounts of money threatens to corrupt every aspect of public education. We will not allow this precedent to be set, and in such egregious circumstances.
A: The money he donated was taken from the public in the first place. This is like a bank robber being honored for giving a few stolen bucks back.
A: Mr Weill is being honored at a commencement, and thus is being put forth as an example for the students to emulate.
A: If we stand by and do nothing, the crisis will only get worse for future students and learning institutions.
Q: If we took the money, isn’t it hypocrisy to protest now?
A: The students, faculty and community had no say over whether we would take the money–and many of us feel it should be given back.
A: There need to be higher standards regarding the source of donations. Taking blood money sends the wrong message about what the CSU system stands for.
Q: Why did you choose our special day (the day of commencement)?
A: We did not choose the day that this shame is being perpetrated – SSU did. This is the logical time and place to witness and mark this shame – for the public, for the CSU system, and for future students. Our silent actions during the ceremony will demonstrate our absolute rejection of the ‘honor’ bestowed upon Weill, and will not disrupt the ceremony. This is an historic event of great importance.
Q: Will it ruin the commencement ceremony?
A: We are doing everything we can to call for respect for the students and the ceremony itself. We are actively calling for the protest to be peaceful, respectful and silent. We are asking that signs and distractions be kept away from the ceremony itself. The only planned form of protest at the ceremony will be turning our backs, taking our hats off and silently hanging our heads in shame when the names of Sandy Weill and his wife, or the honorary degree itself, are mentioned. All other protest will be held at locations away from the ceremony.
A: Though we can’t promise that outsiders will listen to our calls for silence and respect, we will be actively protecting the ceremony and will do everything we can to limit distraction while the ceremony is in progress.
Q: What will the protest be like?
A: The only planned form of protest at the ceremony will be turning our backs, taking our hats off and silently hanging our heads in shame when the names of Sandy Weill and his wife or the honor are mentioned. All other protest will be held at locations away from the ceremony.
A: Outside of the ceremony, there will be silent rallies and scattered silent protests. Signage will be respectful and will NOT be allowed at the ceremony. Many protesters will actively protect the ceremony area from any signs or marches.
Q: What can I do to support this protest without disrupting the ceremony?
A: The more students and faculty who are on board with the silent protest, the better. Please spread the word to ONLY turn your back, take off your hat and hang your head in shame when Mr Weill’s name is called or the honorary doctorate for him is mentioned. The more people we have who are ‘with the program’, the less chance there is that someone will disrupt proceedings.
Q: Won’t protesting ruin the experience for my family and friends?
A: Your family and friends should be proud of you for standing up for what is right. You will be demonstrating that you have actually learned the value of justice, transparency, social responsibility and community from your time at SSU!