At noon on Friday, Nov. 20, leaders of the Douglass Leadership House (DLH) , Minority Student Advisory Board (MSAB), Spanish and Latino Students’ Association (SALSA) and the Black Students’ Union (BSU) held a protest to express solidarity with the students at Mizzou and other universities “in their plight against systematic racism and oppression” and to observe parallels between UR and other universities.
DLH President Charlisa Goodlet, MSAB President Farid Adenuga, SALSA President Kiara Cruz, BSU Vice President Simone R. Johnson and Senior Advisor for SALSA Lisamarie Roman announced a list of demands which called on the University to “provide a safe and productive learning environment […] improve inclusion and representation […] and increase funding and support for underrepresented minority students and departments.”
Specific demands to support these greater goals included the removal of Yik Yak from UR’s servers. The app has been used to make racist comments and threats towards members of DLH especially. Another demand was for UR President Joel Seligman to hold a town hall meeting to discuss issues relating to race. The list of demands also included revisions to the policy on harassment and discrimination within the student code of conduct; the establishment of the Frederick Douglass institute for African and African-American Studies as its own department; and increased funding and a separate space for the Office of Minority Student Affairs (OMSA), which currently shares an office in Dewey Hall with the Center for Education Abroad.
The protest began outside DLH before moving to Wallis Hall, where the protesters gathered in the lobby and delivered the list of demands to President Seligman. The protesting students, who were joined by other members of the community, including alumni and faculty, then marched to ITS and through Rush Rhees Library, to the George Eastman Statue on Eastman Quad. Some of the students printed screenshots of racist posts seen on Yik Yak and excerpts from the full list of demands, and taped them around campus. This continued at the statue, where the campus landmark was covered in sheets of paper listing the demands.
The protest ended in Hirst Lounge, where two students unveiled a long banner with a chronological history of UR with regard to race and listing some of the injustices experienced by minority members of the community.
Curtis is a member of
the class of 2017.