Pushing for a constructive dialogue

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University spokesman Gary Susswein says that President William Powers Jr. does not want to meet with any of the 18 students who were arrested during the April 18 sit-in because Powers does not want to “reward criminal behavior,” according to The Daily Texan.

But the only reason that Dean of Students Soncia Reagins-Lilly called Make UT Sweatshop-Free Coalition members Carson Chavana and Alonzo Mendoza (who were not arrested) to set up a meeting is because of the arrests. Are we to believe that now, out of the blue, the administration is ready for a meeting? And if administrators are so concerned with not “rewarding” criminal activity, then why has UT hired faculty who have been arrested under similar circumstances to the 18 students?

The most interesting part of the administration’s recalcitrance is that it seems to want to be a “conscientious observer” in meetings but refuses to do so on the issue of human rights. It seems the administration’s priorities are out of wack. And while UT dilly-dallies about, workers who make UT apparel have their rights violated every day.

Let me be clear, the Make UT Sweatshop-Free Coalition has tried for years to have a constructive dialogue with the UT administration. We have attempted to go through the usual channels only to have our letters rejected, ignored or replied to with responses that can only be interpreted as dialogue-prohibitive. This is why the Make UT Sweatshop-Free Coalition chose to sit-in.

Sophia Poitier is a Philosophy and rhetoric and writing junior and a member of Make UT Sweatshop-Free Coalition. She was one of the 18 students arrested on April 18.