NESCACs respond to Mizzou

In response to the protests that took place last week at the University of Missouri, student activism has ignited at colleges and universities across the country. Many schools within the NESCAC have joined the call to action as well, standing in solidarity with Missouri in order to cast a spotlight on issues of race, social class, and sexual violence.

According to The Amherst Student, on Thursday, November 12, hundreds of students joined together in Frost Library at Amherst College to protest racial injustice. The protest was advertised through Facebook as an event to “stand in solidarity with the students in Mizzou, Yale, South Africa, and every other institution across the world where black people are marginalized and threatened.” Although the event was originally scheduled as a one-hour sit-in, the protest only gained strength as time went on, continuing well into the night.

The organizers of the event formalized their protests into a movement called “Amherst Uprising.” The group created a list of 11 demands “in an effort to change the status quo for a more just and inclusive environment within our campus.” Among the demands was a request that both Amherst President Biddy Martin and board of trustees chairman Cullen Murphy issue an apology for the institution’s history of racial injustice. The leaders of the protest said they would continue to occupy Frost until the first of their demands were met, and declared that if their goals “are not initiated within the next 24 to 48 hours, and completed by November 18 we will organize and respond in a radical manner, through civil disobedience.” President Martin briefly spoke at the protest, praising the students involved for their activism but not addressing their demands at the time.

Student activists at Wesleyan University in Middletown, CT took a different approach to the issues at hand. On the same day, Thursday, November 12, students dressed in all black stood together in silence in the typically loud Usdan Marketplace at Wesleyan, according to The Wesleyan Argus. By 12:20 p.m. Usdan was packed with students wearing all black, sitting quietly and holding signs in protest. After a loud drum roll, students of color began to stand-up in solidarity, while allies remained seated to demonstrate their support, all remaining silent in unity.

After three minutes, a group of students stood up and broke the silence in order to address the purpose of their protest. “As students of color at Wesleyan University, we cannot idly sit by and watch as our brothers and sisters get treated like second-class citizens within an institution that claims to protect them,” said Henry Martellier ’19.

Besides standing in solidarity with the student protesters at Missouri, the group wished to bring attention to the injustices that occur at Wesleyan as well as many other institutions across the country. Hailey Broughton-Jones ’18 shared, “This is not just a Missouri issue; this is not just a Yale issue. This problem exists everywhere. This problem exists at Wesleyan.” Another student, Jaylen Berry ’18, presented a challenge to her peers, “We challenge you to hold each other accountable for your actions, and raise your voice against the gross injustices that students of color are forced to deal with every day.”

Many alumni and faculty supported the silent protest at Wesleyan. Vice President for Equity and Inclusion Antonio Farias wrote an email to the school’s newspaper, The Wesleyan Argus, stating, “I firmly stand in solidarity with our students and acknowledge the lived pain they are experiencing and will continue to work with student leaders.” School President Michael Roth sent out a campus wide email following the event, recognizing the importance of the ongoing issues. Roth wrote, “Bringing these issues to the fore creates openings for more concerted efforts to improve the experience of students of color and other marginalized communities on our campus. I am confident that doing so will make our entire institution stronger.”

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