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Students stage sit-in protest at President Bardo’s office

Lou+Heldman%2C+vice+president+of+strategic+communications%2C+foreground%2C++looks+at+a+group+of+student+protesting+outside+go+John+Bardo%E2%80%99s+office.+%0AThe+group+were+demanding+transparency+and+to+know+what+happened+to+Eric+Maki.+%28Mar.+14%2C+2017%29
Lou Heldman, vice president of strategic communications, foreground,  looks at a group of student protesting outside go John Bardo’s office. 
The group were demanding transparency and to know what happened to Eric Maki. (Mar. 14, 2017)

Lou Heldman, vice president of strategic communications, foreground, looks at a group of student protesting outside go John Bardo’s office. The group were demanding transparency and to know what happened to Eric Maki. (Mar. 14, 2017)

Brian Hayes

Brian Hayes

Lou Heldman, vice president of strategic communications, foreground, looks at a group of student protesting outside go John Bardo’s office. The group were demanding transparency and to know what happened to Eric Maki. (Mar. 14, 2017)

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More than 50 student protesters staged a sit-in outside of Wichita State President John Bardo’s office at Morrison Hall Tuesday, demanding change from the administration.

The group, We The Students, intended to march from the Grace Memorial Chapel to Morrison Hall and up to Bardo’s office to have the sit-in there. But university police Cpt. Guy Schroeder was waiting. He stood in front of the door to Bardo’s office and would allow only three students to enter.

Anna Weyers, director of operations for the president, said Bardo was at an off-campus meeting and would not be available until possibly after spring break.

Seated along the walls outside the president’s office, the group presented a list of three demands, including calls for transparency, shared governance and better representation for marginalized student groups.

The group’s chants included “We the students demand shared governance!”; “We the students demand transparency!”; “Where is Eric Maki?”; “We the students demand equal representation!”; and “No more resignations!”

About forty-five minutes into the sit-in, university General Counsel David Moses addressed the group, asking them to move to the Grace Memorial Chapel and continue the discussion there.

“This is not an appropriate meeting place,” Moses said.

Students declined to move and demanded to hear from President Bardo directly.

“We are here to be disruptive,” student Kavya Natesan said. “Our education has been disrupted by the administration.”

“We are being very polite,” said a student whose name was removed from the online version of this story after careful consideration of transparency and after The Sunflower learned she was a domestic violence survivor who did not want her name included. It’s important to note that the student publicly identified herself by name at the sit-in, which took place in a public setting in front of several live streaming cell phone cameras and local television station cameras.

“You want to move this behind closed doors,” the student said.

Natesan said that Vice President for Student Affairs Teri Hall once suggested that Muslim students use a janitor’s closet to wash themselves and pray, instead of pushing for the installation of wash stations.

Natesan said the renovations “Wouldn’t be as big of an undertaking as Innovation Campus itself.”

Provost and Senior Vice President Tony Vizzini said that Hall was not there to defend herself.

“I do not think it is appropriate to send somebody to the janitor’s closet to pray,” he said.

Vizzini also addressed students’ questions regarding Director of Campus Recreation Eric Maki’s sudden resignation. Maki’s departure was announced just one day following student senate’s vote to oppose the building of a YMCA on Innovation Campus.

Students questioned if he was forced by the administration to quit his position.

Vizzini said he could not comment on the details of Maki’s resignation because they relate to personnel matters.

“I do not know the specifics of that episode,” he said. “I was not present.”

Vice President for Strategic Communication Lou Heldman addressed students’ concerns regarding transparency on the part of the administration. “(Bardo) speaks regularly to student organizations. He’s gonna start another round of that after spring break.”

Heldman said it may be a while until students hear back from Bardo. He said Bardo will be at the Kansas Board of Regents meeting tomorrow and will be traveling with the Wichita State Men’s Basketball team to tournament games in Indianapolis immediately after.

“A considered response is probably a couple weeks away,” Heldman said.

“There’s no shortage of answers,” he said. “We respond to questions all the time.”

Randy Barbour, a doctoral student and spokesperson for the group, said — at the conclusion of the sit-in — that this is only the first step for students engaging in the process of shared governance.

“This is just a moment,” said Barbour. “We are starting a movement.”

If their demands are not addressed by 5 p.m., Wednesday, protesters said they will “turn up the energy.”

“Students have been lulled to sleep by promises made by the administration,” Barbour said.

———

See the full list of demands here: We The Students List of Demands

 

 

7 Comments

7 Responses to “Students stage sit-in protest at President Bardo’s office”

  1. Real Shocker on March 14th, 2017 9:26 pm

    This is a very interesting article and list of demands. In order to understand the present it is helpful to understand a little about the past. In a May 9, 2015 article in the Wichita Eagle, then SGA President, Matt Conklin, shared several thoughts. The link to the article is:

    http://www.kansas.com/news/local/education/article20574063.html

    Part of the article is as follows:
    And he (Conklin) said this about Bardo: The student affairs office “is suffering because of the culture of hostility and retaliation promoted by Bardo and his circle of advisors.” Student affairs staff at WSU, Conklin said, “can’t speak up or express their concerns because they have seen what’s happened to Dr. Robinson.” “Bardo was not surprised when I conveyed my concerns to him,” Conklin wrote the regents. “When I expressed how I’ve seen a culture develop where people are looking over their shoulders, fearful for their job, he said some should be.”

    Why would Bardo (according to Conklin) say some Student Affairs staff need to be looking over their shoulders, fearful for their job? Who are the staff needing to look over their shoulders? Was Eric Maki one? Who else should be fearful for their job? How can staff support students in an environment like this?

    There are so many questions.

    In 2014, did members of the President’s Executive Team fly on a private/chartered plane to visit other colleges and universities with entities like Innovation Campus to learn more about them? Who on the President’s Executive Team took these trips? When and where did they fly to? Who provided the private/charter plane? Would that private/charter flight be valued at more than $500 per person and be considered a gift since it was from another person or company? If it is a gift valued at more than $500 per person, would those who traveled need to list that on their State of Kansas Statement of Substantial Interest (SSI) forms? Where is the record of this private/charter flight information? Did the General Counsel at that time travel on the private plane or go to other colleges and universities on his own and not on a private plane? What schools did he visit on his own?

    Did a member of the President’s Executive Team require staff in Campus Recreation to take down the “Gender Neutral Restroom and Shower” banner over the renovated space designed to provide a private and safe space for transgender students to change and shower? The renovated space had been open for over a year and widely praised by transgender students when someone noticed it and required it be taken down. How does this support LGBT students?

    Why would members of the President’s Executive Team support a YMCA that commits over $100M in student fees and $5M in Board of Trustee money for a project not even listed as a Kansas Board of Regents Capital Improvement Request on the five year plan approved in 2016? The list is at:
    http://www.kansasregents.org/resources/PDF/FY_2018_Capital_Improvement_Requests_and_Five_Year_Plans_-_FINAL_REPORT_-_07-01-2016.pdf

    The same plan lists a $65M business building built between 2018 and 2020. It is to be financed with half from private gifts and half from student fees according to this February 23, 2017 article in the Wichita Eagle:
    http://www.kansas.com/news/business/forward/article132738699.html

    Without the ability to sell bonds or borrow money from a bank or anyone, how can student fees generate the necessary revenue in just three years? It would need a $36 per credit hour increase over those three years to generate the half of the total needed to build the new Business building since WSU cannot buy bonds or borrow any money.

    The same article written on Thursday, February 23, 2017 lists a Recreation and Fitness project on Innovation Campus with no expected date of completion, no project cost, and no financing detail. However, the very next day, Friday, February 24, 2017, John Tomblin made a comprehensive powerpoint presentation to the Student Fee Committee with all that detail. Then on Wednesday, March 1, 2017 the following article was printed in the Wichita Eagle:
    http://www.kansas.com/news/business/article135675608.html

    How could there be no schedule, cost, and financing details and no shared information with students on February 23rd and then less than a week later John Tomblin was making a full blown request to SGA for over $100M in fees with specific plans, schedules, designs, etc.?

    Hopefully students can get answers to some of their questions and demands.

    [Reply]

    Andrew Linnabary Reply:

    In response to a section of your comment, General Counsel Emeritus (and General Counsel in 2014) Ted Ayres said, “For the record, I traveled to North Carolina with President Bardo and several others from the University to visit campuses there. I traveled, alone, to West Lafayette, Indiana, to visit Purdue University, and I traveled, alone, to Stillwater, Oklahoma, to visit Oklahoma State University. The purpose of each of these trips was to learn what other Universities were doing with regard to the development, acceleration and commercialization of faculty research. Each trip was with the approval of the President and I flew commercial and/or drove my personal vehicle and all expenses for these trips were paid from my University budget. None of my visits was on a private plane.”

    [Reply]

    Real Shocker Reply:

    Thanks to Andrew and General Counsel Emeritus, Ted Ayres. Looking forward to the answers to private plane information.

    [Reply]

  2. Amos A. Non on March 15th, 2017 12:25 am

    Boy, Bardo get protested by Students at every school he heads. Seriously, I tried to warn you during the Presidential Selection Q&A of the Western Carolina University Student protests against him. His record extends beyond one school. He will never listen to the Students. He did not then, he will not now.

    [Reply]

    AnonGirl Reply:

    Oh I’ve been saying that for years too. He tries to bury that but we know.

    [Reply]

  3. WSU Activist on March 15th, 2017 11:49 am

    How do we impeach/remove?

    [Reply]

  4. Real Shocker on March 15th, 2017 7:58 pm

    Here is something else We the Students can ask Bardo and Tomblin about. In the BKD audit for WSU that was linked in a previous Sunflower article, it was noted that Dave Murfin of MWCB, LLC was announced as a member of the Kansas Board of Regents on June 16, 2015.

    You should ask Bardo, Tomblin, and WSU staff how many contracts were AWARDED to MWCB, LLC, or any of the individual members/companies of Murfin, Weigand, Crossland, or Barrett PRIOR to June 16, 2015. It shouldn’t take them long to get you that list of contracts and projects.

    Then you should ask Bardo, Tomblin, and WSU staff how many contracts were AWARDED to MWCB, LLC, or any of the individual members/companies of Murfin, Weigand, Crossland, and Barrett AFTER June 16, 2015. That list will be a little longer.

    Look at the article in the Wichita Eagle that lists all the involvement of MWCB, LLC or individual members. Were all the projects in this article AWARDED after June 16, 2015 when Dave Murfin was named to the Kansas Board of Regents? That Eagle story is:
    http://www.kansas.com/news/business/forward/article132738699.html

    The Eagle article doesn’t even list the $15M Innovation Campus Utilities & Infrastructure project listed on the Kansas Board of Regents Capital Improvements Request list at the following web link:
    http://www.kansasregents.org/resources/PDF/FY_2018_Capital_Improvement_Requests_and_Five_Year_Plans_-_FINAL_REPORT_-_07-01-2016.pdf

    Ask Bardo, Tomblin, and WSU staff what company got the Innovation Campus Utilities & Infrastructure work listed at $15M and if that came after June 16, 2015.

    How many of the projects listed in the Wichita Eagle article were awarded by competitive bid and which were not? Who got the competitive bid projects and who go the projects not competitively bid?

    If this information is not shared you can ask for the information via a Kansas Open Records Act (KORA) request. You can actually ask for that now and not wait to ask Bardo or WSU staff.

    [Reply]

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