“They’re pretty much denying the students’ voice and our right to be here,” said Melanie Rafoss, an anthropology and political science major. “That’s why we’re out here today protesting and taking direct action, because they’re giving us no other choice.”
Yesterday,3 students from Temple University were arrested holding a nonviolent sit-in at their campus PNC Bank branch. That same day, the University Investment Committee was scheduled to meet and discuss Temple’s financial and ethical relationship to PNC Bank – but Temple students were denied the chance to speak or be present at the meeting.
PNC is paid to provide Temple’s on-campus banking services, and in fact PNC Bank’s Regional Manager Bill Mills sits on Temple’s Board of Trustees! Even though the students at Temple were able to gather over 500 signatures in support of their petition, the University administration furnished our student allies in ‘Temple Community Against Mountaintop Removal’ with a letter stating that “There is no opportunity for others who may be interested in [Temple and PNC’s relationship] or any other matter under discussion to participate in the Committee’s deliberations.”
As the Temple 3 sat and spoke inside the bank, we sang and spoke outside, passing out copies of the Trustees response and the students’ demands: an unconditional public statement of opposition to PNC’s investments in mountaintop removal, a timeline for the severence of the relationship between the two institutions from the Investment Committee, and open and public hearings on the issue! EQAT Temple Alumni Carolyn McCoy, Ingrid Lakey, and Lee Reinert spoke out about the issue alongside Temple Students, EQAT member Luke Byrnes mediated between students and local police officers, and Occupy Philadelphia provided legal support when the students were taken to the precinct.
As of this morning, Ethan Jury, Diane Isser and Daniel Teichman have been released safe and sound. Please keep them in your thoughts as they enjoy some well-earned rest!
Watch a video of the 3 Temple students reading their statement inside the bank at the beginning of the sit-in:
And click here to read the excellent Temple News article about the event: