To protest what they say is a University administration out of touch with student concerns, six prominent left-wing campus activist groups have united to form a coalition.
The umbrella group, which calls itself Campus Unite!, plans to stage a protest Thursday afternoon outside of the Fleming Administration Building while the University Board of Regents meets inside, said Blase Kearney, a member of the anti-sweatshop campus group Students Organizing for Labor and Economic Equality.
Kearney said the rally’s location will ensure that University President Mary Sue Coleman and the regents are aware of the group’s concerns.
“It’s to scare them,” he said.
While SOLE has confronted University administrators at times – last year, several SOLE members cornered Coleman in a Fleming building stairwell and demanded a meeting – its public demonstrations haven’t been well attended by people outside the organization.
Kearney said he expects at least 100 people to attend Thursday’s rally, though.
Maricruz Lopez, a spokeswoman for the militant pro-affirmative action group By Any Means Necessary, said the demonstration could be the largest student rally at the University in two decades if all goes according to plan.
The groups within the coalition, which typically advocate for separate issues, came together in an attempt to make the University administration more responsible for its actions, Kearney said.
“We want the University to be run like a republic, not a corporation,” Kearney said.
University spokeswoman Kelly Cunningham said administrators are always open to hear concerns.
“The University has a very strong freedom of speech and expression policy,” Cunningham said. “It has demonstrated over the years that it is interested in and encourages student input.”
The rally is part of Week of the People, a set of protests and events sponsored by local activist groups. Week of the People is also sponsoring a protest march on Saturday to mark the fourth anniversary of the Iraq War.