By Nick Stephens
Since Monday evening Beloit College students have occupied the atrium of the Science Center in recognition and support of the Madison protesters, who oppose the budget repair bill introduced by Republican Gov. Scott Walker. Students have established their presence in an effort to circulate information on campus and create a nexus from which to organize plans of action. Current efforts include 24-hour occupation of the Science Center, daily rideshares to and from Madison, open discussion forums, communal dinners, guest speakers, and a running newsfeed.
The movement has faced mixed support amongst students. “I’m not sure if their use of the Science Center is the appropriate use of their efforts in opposition to the bill,” commented a few students living off-campus. Darrah Chavey, associate professor of mathematics and computer science, stayed with the student protestors during the second and third nights. “I think it’s really great to see students coming together for a positive cause,” he said. John Winkelmann, associate dean of students and director of residential life, echoed similar sentiments.
Security is generally required to oust students from academic buildings after 2 A.M. The first night of the occupation, students complied with a security guard’s request to vacate; however, they’ve been permitted to stay if they are accompanied by a professor.
Clara Baker ’13 remarked, “What’s going on now is beyond just a political statement about the bill, it’s now about a place where students and faculty members can have a community and an open forum to discuss any sort of issue, political or otherwise, that Beloit students face.” Steven Jackson ‘12 said that he was in support of the physical presence on campus, but worried that the focus on the use of the Science Center was becoming a distraction.
Spring Break begins this weekend, during which it’s likely that the student coalition won’t maintain as active of a presence in the building.