Student protests continue almost two weeks after U. of Missouri resignations – USA TODAY College
Almost two weeks after protests resulted in the resignation of University of Missouri System President Tim Wolfe, increasing numbers of students nationwide are rallying in support of the students there and for radical changes within higher education.
From the University of Nebraska-Lincoln to the University of Kansas to Lewis & Clark, students are demanding that schools, and some state governments, address what they say is the systematic racism found both in their schools and off.
Here’s a round up of some of the latest rallies that took place this week:
University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Lincoln, Neb.
On Thursday afternoon, hundreds of students, faculty and community members gathered outside the school’s student union for a Black Lives Matter Rally to “protest police brutality, racial injustice, and to raise awareness of white privilege,” according to the event’s Facebook page.
Holding signs that read, “Stop telling people of color their experience is an illusion,” “When we say #BlackLivesMatter, we aren’t asking you,” “White Silence is Violence” and more, people spoke about their experiences with racism, from being stopped by police officers without probable cause to hearing fellow students shout the n-word as they walked by on campus.
Student Mecca Slaughter also read an open letter to students signed by a long list of black faculty nationwide posted on blackspaceblog.com. The statement read in part: “You with your stories of erasure break our hearts because you are family. Because your stories of erasure are ultimately stories of violence, because your stories mirror our experiences past and present.”
“Stop thinking this is a small deal because you don’t have experience with it,” said Maya’Lee Evans, one of the organizers, who was brought to tears while recounting personal and national accounts of racism. “Black students are in danger.”
— Vanessa Daves, University of Nebraska Lincoln
Lewis & Clark College, Portland, Ore.
Students at Lewis & Clark College in Portland, Ore., marched to the Oregon State Capitol on Thursday, demanding the removal of Mississippi’s Confederate flag displayed in an adjacent park, and government accountability for eradicating “state-sanctioned racism.”
At the capitol building in Salem, students read a letter, signed by student group Lewis & Clark Black Lives Matter, to Oregon Governor Kate Brown; marched in circles around the capitol rotunda; and demanded the removal of the flag, part of Oregon’s Walk of the Flags display. As it fluttered in the rain, protesters chanted, “Take it down.”
The letter also demanded improvements to hiring practices, resources for students of color and more, and called threats made earlier in the week on Yik Yak targeting black students an act of domestic terror.
The Yik Yak posts had resulted in an on-campus rally on Wednesday. The demonstrators have received letters of support from neighboring Reed College and the Oregon State Bar.
Lewis & Clark’s president, Barry Glassner, traveling in Washington, D.C., on college business, has remained silent about the events on his campus. Student organizers say they plan to stage a sit-in outside the main administrative building upon his return.
— Caleb Diehl, Lewis & Clark College
Mount Holyoke College, South Hadley, Mass.:
At noon this past Wednesday, hundreds of Mount Holyoke College students interrupted classes and meetings to make the following announcement:
“I am leaving to participate in a national walkout in solidarity with students at Mizzou who have been facing racism on their campus. Please join me.”
Participants walked in procession towards the college library, encircling it as chants of “Black lives matter” echoed across campus. Next, students of color stepped forward to share stories of their personal encounters with racism on campus, relating their experiences to those of student protesters at the University of Missouri.
The walkout came on the heels of a protest in the MHC campus center to express solidarity with students at Mizzou, Yale and other schools where students have challenged their administrations’ racial prejudices. In addition, a photo campaign is underway where MHC students are publicizing messages of solidarity with students of color across the country.
“Often, we stay within small cliques when we need to be talking to each other. Students from different racial backgrounds have to communicate,” said Yangla Lama, a Tibetan international student from Nepal. “Domestic students of color need to stand by international students of color and vice versa. ‘Diversity’ comes with a huge workload.”
— Areeba Kamal, Mount Holyoke College
University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign, Champaign, Ill.
Approximately 275 people attended a rally Wednesday organized by student group Black Students for Revolution. It featured speakers, poets and hip-hop artists speaking out in solidarity with University of Missouri students and what it said is racism within the university system.
In response, an anonymous social media page was created after the rally ended called Illini White Student Union that characterized the Black Lives Matter movement as an act of “terrorism” and has left many feeling unsafe at the Urbana-Champaign campus.
Augustus Wood, a PhD student and a member of the Black Students for Revolution, said the group aims to bring students together to use “self-determination” to challenge the administration in an attempt to restructure the university.
Sunny Ture, one of the rally’s organizers, said, “Black people coming together like we did … and showing that we had such strength, I don’t think the black students who were there even realized they were radical, they were revolutionary until they came together as a collective and shouted it together.”
Karen Olowu, also a rally organizer, said a list of specific demands is currently being made that will be presented to the administration.
-– Walbert Castillo, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
University of Kansas, Lawrence, Kan.:
After a grassroots group named Rock Chalk Invisible Hawk took over the stage of a Town Hall on diversity on Nov. 11 to issue demands, a number of academic departments released statements of support, as did Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little and Provost Jeffrey Vitter.
Student protesters, however, have expressed frustration with the responses, according to student paper The University Daily Kansan.
On Wednesday, the Student Body was also being held to account. At a packed government meeting, students called for the impeachment of the Student Body president, vice president and student senate chief of staff after a vote of “no confidence” and a call, rebuffed, for their resignations, according to the paper.
The leaders are being criticized for their slow response to the Town Hall. In addition, students are calling for more diversity in the student senate.
The executives said they would not resign, but promised to rebuild trust with students of color.
Student Body President Jessie Pringle said, “Today, I stand before you to let you know that I did not resign, and I am not leaving this body behind, and I still have work to do,” reported The University Daily Kansan. “It’s more than I can imagine, but I’m going to commit myself to it.”
“Revolution isn’t pretty,” said Kynnedi Grant, a Rock Chalk Invisible Hawk member, and the Black Student Union president. “It’s not cookie-cutter either.”
— Emily Donovan, University of Kansas-Lincoln