On Friday afternoon, about 60 University of Dallas students gathered in front of Braniff Graduate Building carrying signs and American and Vatican flags. Students chanted phrases including, “Save the Core,” “Con-stant-ine,” and “No New College!”
The event was organized in the wake of President Thomas Keefe’s recent announcement of his interest in creating an adult degree completion college and outspoken resistance to this plan from faculty, the student body and a substantial number of alumni.
The protesters marched down the Mall to the Haggerty Science Center, where senior Joey Kelly made a speech from the balcony.
“I would say that [those in favor of the New College] are operating under an assumption that what is good is mutually exclusive from reality,” Kelly said.
He was greeted with cheers from the crowd. Kelly ended his speech by saying that the ralliers are “against no person, but the idea that is so at odds with who we are.”
The protesters continued in the direction of Carpenter Hall, through Haggar and back toward Braniff. Keefe addressed the crowd of students, asking why they did not first try to ask him their questions before resorting to demonstrations.
Students engaged in an impromptu Q&A session with the president for the next half hour. The crowd dispersed, while a few students remained behind to talk with the president.
Responses to the event ranged from those seriously in favor to those strongly opposed.
“There’s a tendency to see the people who are celebrating the Core as naive and not understanding that it takes revenue for a school to run,” senior history major Emily Buckner said. “That is a mischaracterisation that is, I think, dangerous. … The administration should be coming up with revenue increasing proposals, and the students should be vigilant in defending the Core as the core of the school. These two aren’t mutually exclusive.”
Physics professor Dr. Sally Hicks who did not attend the event, commented,
“It’s a very important time for the university, and I wish [the march] wasn’t happening right now. It’s a time of our recruitment, it’s a time of our new provost, and I think it conveys a picture of UD that’s not very realistic. This would probably be the first time since I’ve been here that we’ve had a march. And so I wish it weren’t happening right now. I think everybody has the right to march, you know, I participated in the March for Science. … I don’t want to say that the students don’t have a right to march at all, I just wish it wasn’t happening.”
A senior chemistry major, who chose to remain anonymous, said of the event.
“It [was] well intentioned and shows the fervour of the student body, but by participating in such a protest, students reveal how they exist within the Bubble and not outside of it. They see the problem, but do not have the solution.”
Freshman Rose Safranek said she was grateful Keefe stopped to talk with students.
“I appreciated that he gave us his time … I hope he really does take into account our efforts and the efforts of the faculty,” Safranek said.