What Macalester students did during their recent sit-in — and the letter they received

Use a bucket, would you?

You may have read the Star Tribune‘s piece on discipline being meted out against some of the students who participated in the sit-in of Macalester College’s administration building over the college’s ties to Wells Fargo.

I spoke to one of the 17 students who were apparently disciplined — freshman Alex Bartiromo. He said the students disciplined were indeed the ones who’d blocked the doors to the building, thus keeping administrators from working there.

Although he said he expected some kind of punishment, he considered the measures the college took “disproportionate” to the violation. Among those penalties, students couldn’t take internships for credit that next term, nor could they participate in study-abroad programs.

That, Bartiromo told me, hurts students academically:

“Some people can’t apply for internships and can’t complete their majors. (And) study abroad is part of academics.”

The controversy has generated more than a dozen comments on a Facebook page for Mac alumni, which you can see here.

I asked Bartiromo to explain the Facebook comment by Kevin James Williams, who mentioned “certain bodily functions” that took place in President Brian Rosenberg’s office:

Bartiromo told me the 10 students couldn’t get access to the bathrooms, so urinated into a bucket of kitty litter. He said that lasted only a couple of hours before administrators gave the protesters a pass code to the administrative bathrooms.

Bartiromo told me:

“It didn’t smell great.”

I was able to get my hands on an email from one of the students. It discusses the discipline to be meted out. I was asked to omit the student’s name, so here it is:

Division of Student Affairs


This letter is to confirm the outcome of the conduct hearing held on 04/29/2013 in the Campus Center, Room 206. At that time the Conduct Hearing Board discussed allegations you violated College policy.

As the student handbook states, “students are free to support causes by orderly means so long as those means do not disrupt the operation of the College.” All of the students who were charged in this incident who were present for the hearing acknowledged willingly obstructing access to Weyerhaeuser Hall and that they had done so with the knowledge that it was a provocative act that would result in a response from the College. Based on this information, the Conduct Hearing Board has made the following determinations with regard to your responsibility:

Interference with College Activities Responsible

Based on this finding and the discussion that occurred during your hearing, the Conduct Hearing Board has assigned the following sanction in an effort to help you learn from this incident and hopefully avoid future violations of College policy:

Sanction Description

Sanction Due Date

You are being placed on Disciplinary Probation ending on the due date listed here. This is a formal notice affecting your non-academic status as a student and stating that your behavior is unacceptable within the College community. Disciplinary Probation effectively places your future status as a student of the College in jeopardy and requires that you demonstrate during the probation period that you are capable of functioning in a way that does not violate the College’s policies and procedures. As a result of your disciplinary probation you are not able to represent the college in an official capacity. This would mean you are ineligible to practice or compete in intercollegiate athletics, to hold an elected office in student government or a leadership position in a student organization or elsewhere on campus, to undertake a role in a major music or theatre production or forensic activity, to apply for study abroad or to register for an internship unless otherwise noted in this decision letter. Any further violation, even of a minor nature, could warrant immediate suspension from the College. During this time it is essential that you seriously consider your role as a member of the College community and the responsibility you have in not only adhering to College policies but also in making the College community you are a part of a positive experience for all who are involved.


Your role as a member of the Macalester College community requires that you act responsibly toward other members of the community and in accordance with College policy. Should you have any further policy violations, you will be faced with more serious consequences.

As indicated in the Student Handbook, you have the right to appeal this decision. Any appeals must be made in writing and addressed to Keith Edwards, Director of Campus Life at kedward2@macalester.edu. Dr. Edwards should receive this letter no later than 5 p.m. on 05/09/2013.

Thank you for your willingness to meet on this matter. Best of luck this semester!


Robin Hart Ruthenbeck

Conduct Hearing Board Chair


I have calls into the Macalester spokeswoman requesting comment.