WATERVILLE, Maine — About eight weeks after Occupy Augusta protesters picketed at Colby College, they were back with more support to voice their message — get rid of Bob Diamond.
A group of more than 20 protesters, which is about double the number from July’s protest, stood outside the Diamond Building along Mayflower Hill Drive with picket signs and handing out flyers that denounced Colby’s support for its board of trustees Chairman Bob Diamond.
Diamond resigned as chief executive of Barclays on July 3 in the midst of a scandal regarding interest rate reports of its interbank borrowing rates that were falsified. That data goes into the calculation of a key market index, the London interbank offered rate, according to the Associated Press.
Barclays was fined $453 million by U.S. and British agencies for its submission of those false reports.
During a discussion in executive session last month, the board of trustees decided its position regarding its board of trustees Chairman Diamond.
“At the conclusion of the [two-hour] discussion, the board strongly affirmed its support of Mr. Diamond as chair,” said Sally Baker in a statement released Aug. 14. Baker spoke on behalf of the board of trustees. “Its review was informed by several fundamental values of the college and of the liberal arts tradition, including the paramount importance of seeking truth, an overarching obligation to fairness, and the absolute necessity of deep, critical and patient consideration of complex issues.”
Colby College spokesman Michael Kiser referred to Baker’s statement when asked about Occupy Augusta’s protest Wednesday.
“I’m really appalled. They’re giving him a vote of confidence,” said Jody Spear of Brooksville, who was protesting outside the Diamond Building. “I don’t understand how they can declare confidence in him and to hold him up as an example. It doesn’t make sense to me.”
Columbia University professor Todd Gitlin, who teaches journalism and sociology, was a speaker at Colby College on Wednesday evening. He stood by the protesters on the sidewalk.
“I support what they’re doing. It’s an exemplary act of citizenship,” said Gitlin of the Occupy Augusta protesters. Gitlin recently released a book entitled “Occupy Nation: The Roots, the Spirit, the Promise of Occupy Wall Street.” He also spoke at Bates College in Lewiston on Tuesday.
Gitlin also was critical of the college board’s stance of backing Diamond.
“I don’t think that’s an appropriate remark for a university official. A university official is committed to liberal, in a small ‘L’ sense, values in the educational process and has a moral commitment to truth and should stand behind that principle,” said Gitlin.
Diamond, a 1973 graduate of Colby, donated $6 million toward a building that would be named after him, the Diamond Building. Construction began on the building in April 2005 and it opened in February 2007. It houses eight departments, including economics and government, along with the Goldfarb Center for Public Affairs.
What is taught in that building is worrisome to Hillary Lister, who works in the library at the college.
“Since the Diamond Building got going, this whole investment banking program has really been a dominate program on campus,” said Lister. “I’m just really concerned that this is a pattern of a way this institution has been focusing a lot on these really unstable economic policies and moving away on the focus of the community.”
Lister said other college workers support the Occupy Augusta demonstration, but were afraid to attend because of potential reprisal from the college.