Organizing the Art of Protest – The Oracle

Hamline students respond to President Miller’s comments with art.

Freddie Buergin Witt

As students from Hamline marched past the grassy outlook of the Old Main to protest remarks made by President Fayneese Miller days before, music and art spilled everywhere.

During the September 15 protest, many students were branded with a sticker created by junior Max Ridenour.

“I wanted to promote this event, protest and student resistance to [Miller’s] comments and the student community through some ironic references to what was said,” Ridenour told the Oracle.

The stickers show a red Starbucks logo with the Hamline Piper on its face and a green “$5” at the bottom. Ridenour himself wore a pin with an iPhone and a Starbucks logo that read, “Spend your five bucks wisely. Both creations, Ridenour explained, referenced comments Miller made to a group of student leaders on 9/11.

“Part of what offended me about the comments is that I feel like there’s this equation between having the money to buy food and having food for yourself. and having an iPhone and disposable income. And I wouldn’t say that’s a fair equivalence to draw,” Ridenour said. “Using them as symbols of…response to President Miller’s comments, I’m trying to make understand that spending money on these things is a fair use of your money: that you don’t need to feel guilty for not giving your $5. in Hamline.

Ridenour told the Oracle that they have always believed that art is the best way for them to share their feelings on different issues with others.

“I’ve always felt like this was the most direct form of translating how I feel into a medium that other people can access and use for themselves as well,” Ridenour said. .

Sophomore Cameron Stockwell shared with the Oracle that he too thinks the use of stickers and pins is important to spread student messages.

“For me, wearing this kind of stuff raises awareness. Hope this sparks a conversation as well. Like ‘what does your pin mean?’ So we can talk and let it be known that Hamline has a lot of issues that we need to work on and that we will hold the administration accountable,” Stockwell said.

For Michael Horton senior, these stickers serve as a reminder.

“If we had something to pass on to people as an icon of support or to hold on to and keep that trending throughout this semester because…it’s not a one-and-done thing…for me, that’s wise “, Horton told the Oracle.

Hamline sophomore and co-leader of Thursday’s protest, Abi Grace Mart, agrees that art has a place in protests, especially this one. In fact, Mart shared that the whole protest started with one of his friends wanting to make a sign. After that, Mart and his other friends thought, “How about we hold a protest?” Mart told the Oracle.

Between student and faculty speakers, Mart decided to play from a “Teenage Dirtbag” playlist through a loudspeaker on the steps of the Old Main.

“I think it’s appropriate,” Mart said. “One of the things about something like this, especially something that lasts for hours, is maintaining the energy and the momentum.”

Mart also told the Oracle that the music symbolized student concerns about Miller’s comments and actions following the student uproar.

“President Miller’s silence has resonated through this university, but we will be stronger than that silence no matter how it happens and no matter what it looks like,” Mart said.

Through the use of their art, the Hamline students physically and metaphorically expressed their feelings towards the President’s comments.

Christopher S. Washington