MSU Greenpeace students arrested
Social science and international studies sophomore Peter Rustad is escorted out of President Lou Anna K. Simon’s office on Thursday afternoon. Protesting MSU’s use of coal to generate electricity, Rustad was one of three MSU Greenpeace activists who were arrested at the Administration Building for sitting in after hours. Josh Radtke/The State News
Three members of MSU Greenpeace were arrested by MSU Police for trespassing in MSU President Lou Anna K. Simon’s office Thursday afternoon.
Social science and international studies sophomore Peter Rustad, linguistics and philosophy sophomore Adam Liter and zoology junior Kendra Majewski went with four other MSU Greenpeace students at 3 p.m. to Simon’s office, requesting to meet with her to address their concerns about the T.B. Simon Power Plant located on campus.
The students chose to stay in the building past its closing time of 5 p.m. About seven police officers escorted the students out of the building.
“Over the past two years, we feel the university hasn’t taken (concerns about the danger of the coal plant) seriously,” Liter said. “We felt the need to bring the message to (Simon) directly.”
The students brought a letter to Simon stating their demands.
“We demand that you, President Simon, announce that (MSU) will retire T.B. Simon and announce an ambitious time line for transitioning to 100 percent clean energy,” the letter to Simon said, among other requests.
Simon was unable to meet with the students directly because she was in a MSU Board of Trustee administrative meeting.
But Simon was able to respond to the students with a letter.
In the letter, Simon encouraged the students to attend the MSU Board of Trustee meeting that will take place at 9:30 a.m. today.
Interim Associate Vice President for Student Affairs and Services Denise Maybank offered to meet with the students to discuss their concerns yesterday, but the students said they wanted to stay in Simon’s office.
At 5 p.m., the students were asked to leave the office, but three students refused.
University spokesperson Kent Cassella said he is confused by the protestors’ actions.
“It’s unfortunate that (with) all the meetings we’ve had, that the students don’t seem to have an understanding of the ongoing process and that it had to come to their … being arrested,” Cassella said.
MSU’s Energy Transition Steering Committee has been working with students on a new energy plan, Cassella said.
The committee was formed in 2010 and is made up of a variety of faculty, staff, administrators and students, including a student representative from both MSU Greenpeace and MSU Beyond Coal campaign.
The goal of the committee is to create a campus energy transition plan.
Committee representatives are scheduled to present at the January 2012 MSU Board of Trustee meeting.
But Liter said MSU’s Energy Transition Steering Committee is not going to effectively address MSU Greenpeace’s concerns in the time line the student groups want.
“It seems (MSU’s Energy Transition Steering Committee) is designed to fail in regards to the concerns we’ve raised,” Liter said.
Simon and the university do not plan to address the protestor’s demands at this time, Cassella said.
“It is inappropriate for us to react immediately until that process (involving MSU’s
Energy Transition Steering Committee) with goals and strategies for a long-range energy transition plan is complete,” Cassella said.