11-14-11 a group of students (Occupy UMKC) met in the Student Union. After a few hours, we decided to take a break and meet again later that evening in the lounge of Johnson Hall, as it is open 24 hours for use by students. During the course of discussing the meeting place, one student mentioned that it might not be safe for the residents of Johnson Hall if a group of people who do not live in the building were there late at night. A female student and resident of Johnson Hall assured us that the floors on which students live can only be accessed by key cards, while the lounge is not equipped with card readers. So with her blessing, we agreed to meet there that night.
We did some arts and crafts, watched parts of a few different movies, and talked well into the night, building a sense of community amongst ourselves at UMKC. Aside from the Johnson Hall residents that were at the initial meeting in the Student Union, several other residents expressed an interest in our activities and joined in. As we (Occupy UMKC) engaged in this alcohol-free social activity at our campus, there was no sense of danger and no indication that we were not supposed to be there.
The next day we were informed that Caleb-Michael Files was fired for supposedly letting us into Johnson Hall and thereby exposing the residents to some sort of danger. The supposed reason for the firing is entirely incorrect. First, Caleb did not "let" anyone into the building. The Johnson Hall lounge is open 24 hours and we had been assured that we would be allowed to be there without worry. Second, even if Caleb had let us in, he would not have been exposing anyone to any sort of danger. BUT, he did not let anyone in, the desk attendant allowed us in. The non-residents did not have key cards, and the people attending the meeting were not the sort to endanger anyone.
Caleb is a very responsible RA and our meeting posed no threat to anyone. He was invited to attend the meeting during his off-duty hours and even though he was not working, he took the time to let the on-duty RA know that students would be meeting in the Johnson Hall lobby. If there were any problems with the meeting, the RA on duty should have alerted someone. That the university would treat a student employee in this manner is not only reprehensible in itself, it sets a dangerous precedent allowing the dismissal of any student employee based on the whim of the university.
The message that this incident sends is that UMKC seeks to suppress student engagement outside of the classroom. UMKC only has one space that is open 24 hours and random off-duty RAs will get fired if the students actually use that tiny space. These oppressive practices are not conducive to fostering a broader learning and exploratory experience and we will be making sure that current and future students are made aware of these conditions before they agree to continue supporting this institution.