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Students, staff protest closure of St. Gregory’s University

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SHAWNEE, Okla. - Students, faculty and staff sung a hymn not so much for praising but more for saving.

They protested Monday on the steps of historic Benedictine Hall in hopes to save their future.

"We want to know why they didn't tell us, like why our teachers and we all had to find out from Facebook and the media," said Alysa Walker, a graduate student. "We want to know where this money is gone that's been donated."

It's a popular question written on many posters at the rally.

St. Gregory's University announced last week it will close, causing many students to be forced to transfer. Walkers said she fears her credits to be a counselor won't carry over.

"I'm kind of in that spot now - where do I go, what do I do?" she said.

So, they prayed in hopes their faith can prepare them for the future.

But, they also wanted to ask the president why.

The crowd gathered around President Michael Scaperlanda. Walker asked him if he know about the university's financial strains before taking the job, and Scaperlanda answered yes.

"We did absolutely everything we could to make the place thrive and survive," Scaperlanda said.

Recently, the archdiocese has given more than $1 million to St. Gregory's.

In 2015, The Pottawatomie Nation provided $5 million to the university for operations in exchange for full scholarships to 60 tribal members.

But, all those funds were exhausted.

"We haven't been sitting on it," Scaperlanda said. "We've been trying to find solutions, and the last solution we had fell apart about a week and a half ago."

Meanwhile, Walker is trying to figure out what's next

"I'm two classes from away from a master's degree," she said.

The administration suspended operations after December, closing down the school. Board members hope, in the future, they can reopen the university.

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