Dozens of graduate students and supporters of the Graduate Labor Organization gathered at the steps of the Stephen Robert ’62 Campus Center at noon Wednesday to protest the removal of two graduate students from their respective programs. Backed by the sound of horns and drums, speakers took turns advocating on behalf of both graduate students.
Three graduate students — Jeremiah Zablon GS, Clew GS and Karina Santamaria GS — faced removal from their programs for various personal reasons, The Herald previously reported. Zablon, an international student who was at risk of losing his student visa after being placed on inactive student status, has since raised the necessary tuition to enroll in fall classes. GLO representatives plan to meet with University administration on Friday regarding Clew and Santamaria, said GLO President Sherena Razek GS.
“Despite its alleged commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion, we are seeing grads who should be protected based on these values abandoned by this institution after … their admissions and photo ops are over,” Razek said in a speech that drew cheers from the crowd. “This is why grad workers at Brown unionized — we cannot, and do not, trust the powers that be to honor their commitments and values to our workers.”
Gabby Momah GS, a cohort member with Clew in the Brown Trinity MFA program, spoke about Clew’s experience applying for family leave after their sister was diagnosed with cancer.
“The fact that Clew was denied the opportunity to return home and spend time with their sister receiving chemotherapy is deplorable,” Momah said. “The institution, and the people who uphold the institution, care more about following the rules than supporting our artistry and ensuring the emotional safety … of each student.”
Clew is the only immediate family member of their sister, but their request for family leave was denied because University family leave policy does not extend to siblings.
University administrators declined to comment directly on the rally, but pointed to communications from previous coverage by The Herald. University Spokesperson Brian Clark previously wrote in an email to The Herald that federal law prohibits the University from disclosing students’ academic or financial circumstances, preventing administrators from speaking on the matter.
“I’m sick of grads being forced out of their programs,” GLO Communications Director Kate Clark GS said. “These grads have fought hard to get here and to stay here. We should fight even harder” to help them stay.
When the speeches were over, GLO leaders led chants as attendees, holding signs that read “Let Them Stay” and “Stop Forcing BIPOC Grads To Leave,” picketed on the Main Green in front of University Hall.
“I hope they heard that,” Razek said.
Charlie Clynes is a University News editor covering University Hall and graduate schools. He is a sophomore concentrating in History and Applied Math.