WATERVILLE, Maine – More than 30 student protesters quietly took to the pitch Saturday afternoon at Colby College, stopping the school’s return-to-school soccer game against Hamilton College just before kick-off.
A recording of the game from the Northeast Sports Network, which broadcasts college and high school sports across New England, shows the group marching through Seaverns Field to Harold Alfond Stadium during the national anthem.
A protester spoke into a megaphone, although the message was inaudible on the recording of the show.
âI don’t know if they’ll have to go out and round up these people and get them off the pitch or what, but it’s a protest,â game broadcaster Mike Violette said at the event. “And I’ll tell you what was my first shot – [it] was the fact that they went out and disrespected the national anthem right away, not only walking there, but not taking off the hats during the anthem.
The group eventually sat on the ground and stayed there for 57 minutes, then got up and left the field. The match, which was scheduled to start at 1 p.m., was delayed by an hour and a half.
As it turned out, the group was protesting anonymous details of campus life.
“Last Saturday, October 2, the start of the scheduled football game at Colby’s campus was delayed by 90 minutes when a group of Colby students refused to leave the field,” Colby officials said in a press release Monday afternoon. “Although their motives were not clear to spectators, the college eventually learned that it intended to express its dissatisfaction with various aspects of campus life.”
The demonstrators did not carry signs or wear clothes explaining the reasons for their protest.
At first, Violette speculated that this may have been a homecoming ceremony, he said on Monday, adding that the majority of people in the crowd seemed frustrated.
âThere were definitely some people who were extremely pissed off and screaming loudly to get the kids off the pitch, shouting, ‘Where’s Colby’s safety?’ “Where’s the Waterville Police Department?” ” he said. “I think Colby being Colby there was a fraction of people who understood what was going on and were okay with it.”
At one point, a student working in the press box approached Violette and the videographer, saying the administration had requested that a slide be placed on the screen, away from the pitch filled with protesters. In the recording of the show, the camera pans a shot of people walking on campus.
Violette said she heard different reasons for the protesters’ appearance. One student reported sexual assault, while another cited meals and accommodation as issues.
âI just thought it was not only ridiculous, but also ridiculous that the college didn’t do anything,â Violette said. âThe college didn’t make any announcements to the crowd over the public address system about what was going on. There was no excuse for it or anything like that. It’s like they’re okay with that, they want to be as awake as these kids and let it roll.
Students have every right to demonstrate, Violette said Monday.
âI am all for civil disobedience,â he said. âI am all for protesting. â¦ Children on the football team are also allowed to play a football match. Their interests were not taken into account, nor the parents who paid the tuition fees. It was a drawback for everyone. “
Colby officials accepted the right to protest, but said on Monday that interfering with activities was against policy.
âColby fully supports the rights of all members of the community to express their views, including through protests, and our policies are very clear on this important value. However, our policies also state that members of our community cannot disrupt or interfere in any meaningful way with the operations of the College or the activities of other community members, âofficials said.
To add insult to the delayed start, Colby College lost 27-14 to Hamilton College.