- University of Washington students occupying offices of Athletic Director Scott Woodward in protest of Sodexo contract.
Thirteen University of Washington students were arrested around 7 PM yesterday after occupying and refusing to vacate the office of Athletic Director Scott Woodward. This brings to 40 the total number of students arrested and cited for misdemeanor trespass over the past week during two acts of civil disobedience demanding that the university terminate Sodexo's $3.4 million concessions contract at Husky Stadium.
"It's not like we want to get arrested," sit-in spokesperson Katy Lundgren, a UW sophomore told me. "We just want our university to be a socially responsible institution."
Sodexo has been cited by Human Rights Watch for a pattern of global human rights abuses, including racial discrimination, worker harassment, and union busting. Earlier this week Western Washington University announced it would terminate its 50-year relationship with Sodexo, leaving the UW as the only public university in the state to contract for its food and concession services.
Yesterday's protest was peaceful and well-planned. As about a hundred protesters drew the attention of campus police at a well publicized, 3:30 PM rally in Red Square, about 20 other protesters quietly occupied the Athletic Director's office. The protesters then marched to the Athletic Administration building to cheer on their comrades, while UW Police Chief J. Vinson attempted to persuade the students inside to vacate the premises. As you can see from the video below of student leaders Alix Goldstein and Garrett Strain cordially talking with Chief Vinson, the protesters were fully prepared to accept the consequences.
The past week's actions and arrests came only after a seven-month campaign in which student leaders feel acting UW President Phyllis Wise has misled students and betrayed their trust. "She's supposed to represent us, and she's not doing that," said Goldstein, a sophomore, expressing a growing sense of frustration amongst student activists that isn't likely to be arrested anytime soon.