Grand Jury Protests at Webster University

| December 3, 2014

Tuesday evening, Dec. 2, saw some 50-75 students and others peacefully demonstrating in the streets surrounding Webster University’s Webster Groves home campus. The organized protest was in response to the Michael Brown grand jury announcement. The same type of organized protest has occurred at other universities in the St. Louis area and across the United States.

“It is completely within our students rights to express themselves in an orderly manner consistent with our Webster University values of treating all individuals with respect,” said Julian Schuster, Webster’s provost, senior vice president and chief operating officer. “Last night, our students who were here at the time of the demonstration learned more about themselves and others as they confronted these tense and significant issues and emotions facing our students, our region and the world today. It is only by confronting these issues head-on that we will ever make a difference for the world and for our future.”

Webster students came together with others to peacefully protest and express their views. The Webster Groves Police Department and Webster University Department of Public Safety collaborated to ensure the least disruption to traffic and safety during the protest.

Ted Hoef, Webster University’s dean of Students, was on the scene. He said that some students and Webster staff observers expressed concern over a few specific actions taken by some members of law enforcement. But, overall, students and staff were appreciative of the work done by most law enforcement officers to keep them safe.

“At no point were any of our students, faculty or staff considered to be in danger;” said Rick Gerger, leader of the Webster University Department of Public Safety. “Overall, it was a peaceful demonstration.”

One Webster student was arrested and released only hours later, due to the collaboration between the Webster University Department of Public Safety, the Provost’s office, and Webster University students all working together to help the student, who had been protesting peacefully.

“These are the moments that that help to define us,” said Elizabeth (Beth) J. Stroble, Webster University’s president. “Whether we experience them in person as some of us did last evening, or as a University community and we see it on the news or hear it through the Webster University grapevine. What impacts us here in Webster Groves, impacts us in Vienna, in Kansas City, in Charleston, in Orlando and beyond – and vice versa. We are one University community and we grow together and experience and learn from life’s challenges together.”

“It is in moments like this that we find our personal strength and our collective power as individuals,” added Provost Schuster. “We witnessed students of all origins and ethnic backgrounds standing side-by-side expressing their views in unison. We saw the police force exhibit flexibility when students occupied the streets and intersections. And we saw our students rally to understand and support each other in their individual viewpoints. This is Webster University and this is what higher education is all about. This is not only the future for higher education, it is the future for each of us if we want to succeed.”

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Category: Presidential Messages, Webster News

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