Seattle University Occupation Wins: Humanities Dean Jodi Kelly Placed on Leave Pending Investigation
Direct action works. Ansel Herz
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Bowing to a three-week long student sit-in that charged her with racism, Seattle University placed Matteo Ricci College Dean Jodi Kelly on administrative leave today.
In a e-mail message to students and staff, provost Bob Dullea said the university will replace Kelly with an interim dean. Kelly will remain on leave pending the outcome of formal complaints lodged with the university's equity office and a broader review of "issues associated with her leadership and management." A Seattle University spokesperson confirmed the authenticity of the e-mail late Wednesday, but wouldn't elaborate on the reasons for the decision.
It has been a tumultous three weeks for the student activists. On May 11, they launched a protest
against the university, occupying the front office of the college with pillows, food, music, and a small DIY library. Their hashtag? #DearDeanKelly. Students alleged Kelly presided over a hostile climate for students of color
and had refused to address with urgency a curriculum that relied too heavily on the writings of white male scholars. Some students and alumni respectfully disagreed
with their approach; others directed hateful threats at them.
Meanwhile, the university's elected student government
backed the coalition's concerns, along with a handful of professors; civil rights icon Dick Gregory weighed in
from afar against Kelly stepping down. Last week, according to The Spectator,
an instructor admitted planting a recording device
under a printer in the office occupied by the students. All the while, the leadership of Seattle University praised the students for their activism, but differed sharply in its appraisal of Kelly, who it staunchly defended.
Until today. "This is a win," students said in a statement. They plan to hold a press conference tomorrow at 12:30 at the college's Casey Building to outline their next steps.
This post has been updated.
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