ASU Chancellor States Opposition To HB2 After Students Week-Long Occupation of Admin Building

Published Wednesday, April 13, 2016 at 3:56 pm
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Students and community members protest the HB2 law during UNC President Margaret Spellings’ visit to App State earlier this week. The students stood near the corner of State Farm and Deerfield roads, which is adjacent to site dedication event for the new Beaver College of Health Sciences. Photos by Ken Ketchie

By Jesse Wood

In the past week, local protesters of the HB2 law certainly made a presence through a just-completed, six-day “occupation” of App State’s administration building to picketing UNC President Margaret Spellings’ visit to the campus.

Organized through Appalachian State Student Power, the group called on App State Chancellor Sheri Everts to publicly denounce HB2, which the group decried as “hate-fueled bigotry,” or else it would occupy the admin building indefinitely.

During the past week, Everts and her administration staff met with the sit-in protesters and the chancellor and her office released a few public statements, one of which the group decried as “vague.” Those statements were interpreted as neutral-at-best by the protesters.

Students convene in the BB Dougherty Administration Building lobby to discuss ASU Chancellor Sheri Everts' statement on Tuesday night.

Students convene in the BB Dougherty Administration Building lobby to discuss ASU Chancellor Sheri Everts’ statement on Tuesday night.

While the students noted that Everts told them personally that she didn’t support the bill during a Monday meeting, the students continued to demand in writing her opposition to HB2.

That finally came, and after the group convened to discuss Everts’ statement, the occupation of B.B. Dougherty Administration Building ended on Wednesday morning at 10 a.m.

In her statement that can be read in its entirety here, Everts praised the students for exhibiting “community engagement, civil discourse and thoughtful debate” and said she was saddened and touched after hearing from the students who felt targeted by the law.

“Many have courageously been sharing deeply personal stories. It is this personal connection, the well-being of our students, faculty and staff, that touches me most deeply and causes me the greatest anxiety. It saddens me greatly that anyone is suffering as a result of HB2, especially on a university campus where we should stand as beacons of acceptance and inclusion,” Everts wrote. “Further, I told student protestors that I value each of them for who they are and I am dedicated to working together to ensure our campus is inclusive to all beliefs, backgrounds and identities.”

Everts also noted the challenging position that employees of the UNC system are in if they oppose the law.

“Appalachian finds itself in the middle of this territory where we are required to comply with the laws of our state and work diligently to support our community during a time of fear and anxiety,” Everts wrote. “…I am among many at Appalachian, and across the UNC system, in the challenging situation of being opposed to HB2; however, our charge makes our campuses subject to it, while also working to embody our campuses’ commitment to a diverse, inclusive, safe and supportive environment for all members of our community,” Everts wrote.

Huy Quang Tu, App State student and spokesperson for Appalachian State Student Power, said on Wednesday that the group came to a consensus to end the occupation after Everts released her statement in opposition to the law.

“We got what we needed,” Tu said. “But our leaving doesn’t mean that it’s over. We are just leaving because we got what we originally demanded. So we will keep fighting [discrimination on campus and beyond] and at the same time we are going to keep Chancellor Everts accountable for making the campus an inclusive space for marginalized students.”

Announcing the ending of the occupation on Facebook, the group wrote:

“The student occupation is just one tactic in our toolkit. Before this year ends, we will have arranged meetings with the Chancellor to get some action plans started. Moreover, in the year to come, we will hold the Chancellor accountable for her words to create a more inclusive and diverse community with the aid of you all, students involved in this protest, students in marginalized groups, and Student Body President, Jalyn Howard.”

Photos of Spellings protest: 

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Photos of HB2 Protest on Campus Last Week

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Photo by Lynn Doyle

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Photo by Lynn Doyle

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Photo by Lynn Doyle

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Photo by Lynn Doyle

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