BOULDER, COLORADO — College students on the College of Colorado Boulder held a protest Monday in opposition to the upcoming affirmation of former Republican congressman Mark Kennedy as president of the college system, citing his report of conservative and anti-LGBTQ votes.
Kennedy, the previous president of the College of North Dakota, was named as the only candidate to be the subsequent College of Colorado president by the College’s Board of Regents in an announcement final week. Within the announcement, the Board of Regents cited Kennedy’s “dedication to variety.”
Kennedy served as a congressman representing Minnesota within the U.S. Home of Representatives from 2001 to 2006. Whereas in workplace, he voted in favor of and co-sponsored payments that aimed to create a constitutional modification defining marriage as between a person and a lady. He additionally voted in favor of funding well being care suppliers that don’t present details about abortions and towards offering grants to black and Hispanic schools.
Protesters on the College of Colorado Boulder gathered in entrance of the college library to rally towards Kennedy, holding indicators bearing the telephone numbers for the president and vp of the Board of Regents, the physique which chosen Kennedy because the finalist for president and which is anticipated to verify him later this month. Different posters had phrases comparable to “Kennedy skis in denims” and “CU plus Mark Kennedy doesn’t equal variety.”
An indication on the protest towards Mark Kennedy in Boulder, CO. (Credit score: Robert Tann)
“His voting report on just about the whole lot I characterize is abysmal,” mentioned pupil Natalie Sharp, who recognized herself as a queer girl of colour. Sharp is a graduate pupil in artistic writing, and was on the protest holding an indication saying “no less than CU college students know the right way to Google,” a reference to the board’s obvious failure to vet Kennedy.
The Board of Regents was closely criticized for statements that got here out after Kennedy was introduced because the finalist revealed he was not absolutely vetted. One of many regents mentioned the board didn’t ask Kennedy about his political historical past throughout his interview.
“The College of Colorado system may do higher than somebody with this historical past,” mentioned graduate pupil Andrew Guttman. “We predict we deserve a pacesetter who has a previous to be pleased with, a profession to be touted, not hid from and apologized for.”
Kennedy wrote an open letter to the college on Friday by which he mentioned that his views on same-sex marriage had “advanced” since his time in Congress, and that he would vote otherwise right this moment. Nevertheless, some college students are skeptical of the declare.
“As a member of the LGBT group, I’m drained of people that have contributed to rampant homophobia in politics merely saying they’ve advanced,” mentioned CU pupil Victoria Acuña, addressing the gang.
One former regent, Bob Sievers, additionally attended in help of the protest. Sievers, 84, represented Boulder’s congressional district on the Board of Regents from 1990 to 2002.
“There’s a fairly sturdy want [among the students] to see a couple of candidate,” Sievers mentioned. “So I’m including my small voice to those that fear about how the vetting goes.”
“We have to guarantee that Mark Kennedy is completely vetted if he turns into president,” mentioned CU regulation pupil Pardeep Singh Badhesha.
College students and school have been annoyed with the truth that just one finalist was named, and that the opposite candidates have been saved secret from the general public. The board is anticipated to carry a affirmation vote on Kennedy in two weeks, however Kennedy seems to have resigned from UND, main many locally to really feel that the choice interval is only a formality.
“I’ve been on many search committees and I do know that when there’s just one candidate it’s just about a carried out deal,” mentioned CU English professor Julie Carr. Carr helped draft an open letter despatched to the regents Saturday, which voiced issues about Kennedy’s report. The letter garnered virtually 5,000 signatures.
College of Colorado college students protest Mark Kennedy on campus on Monday, April 15, 2019. (Credit score: Robert Tann for ThinkProgress)
Not all college students are towards Kennedy’s nomination. Konrad Schreier, the regulation faculty consultant on CU’s pupil authorities, mentioned it involved him that college students have been criticizing Kennedy based mostly primarily on his time in Congress.
“When you’re simply utilizing his congressional report to criticize him, it appears like an excessive amount of of a political litmus check, and since this can be a public college I don’t suppose that’s acceptable in any respect,” Schreier mentioned.
In response to the protest, College of Colorado spokesperson Ken McConnellogue instructed ThinkProgress in a press release that “the College of Colorado is a group with individuals obsessed with points that have an effect on CU and society, and we admire college students voicing their views in a productive and considerate means.”
College students plan to carry a second protest on April 26 when Kennedy visits the Boulder campus for an open discussion board.