The Office of Multicultural Affairs set up a platform outside the Campus Center after Chapel Wednesday and allowed various students to speak out on issues of race for more than two hours. The demonstration, in a high traffic area on campus, drew upwards of 100 people at times.
Students of all ethnicities took turns at the microphone. Some told stories of how they’ve experienced or witnessed racism on campus; others challenged the crowd to listen and take a stand against racism. Watch a video of the first 25 minutes.
The demonstration was a response to a Snapchat video that went viral Monday in which a white freshman woman appearing to wear “blackface” makeup said, “I’m a strong, independent, black woman.” The students involved are no longer enrolled, according to an email from Dr. Phil Schubert, president of the university. Prentice Ashford, director of OMA, said many students came to his office Monday morning to talk about the video. OMA hosted a meeting Monday evening, and students decided to demonstrate Wednesday after Chapel.
Ashford said at first the demonstration was to take place in the Campus Center, but the crowd would have been too large for the space, so the office set up the demonstration outside. OMA invited the university’s Senior Leadership Team to witness the demonstration.
The demonstration started at 11:30 a.m. and lasted until 2 p.m., although Ashford said he wanted to let students talk all day.
“I was prepared to stay out here until the last student was done,” Ashford said. “I think students definitely need a platform to talk because they don’t get to do it publicly really ever.”
Abbey Moses, Students’ Association president, said she was moved by the passion of the students who spoke and hopes a change will happen on campus.
“I’m just really excited that we were able to give students a platform,” Moses said.