Following the incidents of racial tension that unfolded at the University of Missouri, which lead to protests and the resignation of the school’s president and vice-chancellor, student activists from more universities have drawn inspiration and begun addressing discrimination. They’ve created the hashtag: #blackoncampus, which has rapidly begun trending on Twitter. The hashtag has garnered almost thirty-thousand tweets by early Wednesday evening.
Ithaca college students in upstate New York held a solidarity walkout demanding the resignation of President Tom Rochon. The students are fighting against covert and overt racism in all places of education.
Many students filled the Ithaca quad and gathered around the Free Speech Rock on campus as student leaders led call-and-response chants. Most popular was the South African rallying cry, “Amandla! Awethu!” In Zulu, it means “power is ours.” The walkout was organized by the student organization, People of Color at Ithaca, which stated on Facebook that they were taking a stand for all the injustices students of color on their campus and campuses across the country.
The students claimed there were numerous racially-charged incidents that the campus leadership did not acknowledge properly. This included an incident where a prominent alumnus made racially insensitive remarks about another alumna at a public event last month. Many students were upset that the issue was not addressed or rectified.
Students started calling for a vote of “no confidence” in Rochon after the president issued a statement saying that the college could not prevent the use of hurtful language, and it could not promise never to host another speaker that might say something intimidating. His remarks were not well received. The student’s body president, Dominic Recckio indicated on Tuesday that the future of the college is in Rochon’s hands, and he was letting it slip away. Dominick explained students felt pushed to the margins every day on campus.
However, President Rochon said he would kick-start a search for a chief diversity officer to improve the racial climate on the campus and build a culture that lives up to its values of justice, mutual respect, and civility. He commented that the current associate provost for diversity, inclusion and engagement, Roger Richardson would serve as the chief diversity officer in the interim.
On Monday, thousands of students, faculty and staff members from Yale University took to the streets in a march of resistance. Tensions escalated after one administrator sent an email to students warning them about wearing provocative or offensive Halloween costumes. With an opposing view, another Yale professor asked if there was no more room for a child to be a bit obnoxious, inappropriate or offensive. All of these demonstrations have brought racial crises ongoing in campus colleges across the country to the foreground.