MILWAUKEE – On Tuesday, students protesting the delayed response to giving Puerto Rico necessary hurricane relief aid moved to the bathrooms of the Wehr Chemistry building as to not make anyone uncomfortable.
Following the disastrous hurricane that left Puerto Rico in dire need of supplies, many people around the nation felt that President Trump and his administration were too delayed in deploying resources and making an exception to the Jones Act to allow foreign aid to the regions affected.
To voice their concerns, many affected students and their allies coordinated a protest and had the thoughtfulness to locate it in the bathrooms of Wehr Chemistry as to not be seen or heard. This way, they were able to allow students to go on with their daily lives completely uninterrupted.
Maurice “Mo” Derate, the coordinator of the protest, released a statement on Facebook saying, “The protests against this criminal inaction by our government will be held in the bathrooms at 2:38 am to allow other students to not think about the issue or create any sort of dialogue. We think expression of these concerns is wildly important but would rather have it be completely ineffective than make anyone feel inconvenienced.”
Many students found the protest to be very respectful and think that everyone should conduct their actions in a similar manner. One student commented, “It was really nice to have this outrage be contained to the bathrooms at an hour when I was asleep. Politics has invaded my Sunday Night Football, my Emmy Awards show, and even my Federal Elections. I’m glad it hasn’t invaded my school too.”
Others felt differently. One member of the custodial staff remarked, “I stumbled across this protest when I went to clean one of the bathrooms in Wehr Chemistry. While it inconvenienced me at first, I actually was glad it happened. They had very valid points that were presented with facts and I walked out really contemplating my stance on the issue and our government”.
The participants in the protest left feeling as though their message had not come across to a wide enough audience, but some publicity did emerge as a result of their actions.
The fake news Marquette Tribune published a story with the headline “Marquette Students Protest the Wehr Chemistry Bathrooms, Show Disloyalty to University Buildings.”
The report followed a complaint from a student, who happened to be in Wehr Chemistry late, saying that the protestors were disrespectful to the building and the custodial staff whose work they were obstructing.
Participants in the protest have responded saying that the bathroom and custodial staff were not the target of their protest, but that the bathroom was simply the vehicle. Mary Jane Phorall, a protestor, told this reporter “the narrative behind our protest got completely hijacked and spun negatively. I guess there is truly no way to raise a discussion about an issue without making a single person uncomfortable.”
*The Crisis in Puerto Rico remains ongoing and needs support. Resources like https://www.oneamericaappeal.org/ and others are worthy of funding as we come together to combat the effects of harmful storms across the United States and the Caribbean.