Campus Protests


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In the same vein as Chad’s pillar on the black lives matter movement a few months ago, I wanted to do a pillar on what’s been going on on university campuses for the past year or two years. I remember quite a media buzz around what happened at Mizzou last fall, but never really dug into the details. It was only the last couple weeks when I read a story about the “chalkings” at Emory University that there was something out of the ordinary going on. So I’d like to give just a quick play by play of what happened at each of those events, and then get your guys’ opinions on a few things.

I should say before we start – that this was actually really hard to research. It seemed like every single news story I read had some sort of editorial slant. I did my best and will do my best as we go through them to start out with just the facts, but the way people are reacting to these things is very entwined in the story so not sure how good of a job I’ll do.

So first, Mizzou – do you guys remember this?

  • September 12, 2015, a Facebook post[6]by the student government president Payton Head complained of bigotry and anti-gay sentiment around the college campus, which gained widespread attention.[7][8] He claimed that in an incident off campus, unidentified people in the back of a passing pickup truck directed racial slurs at him.
  • September 24, “Racism lives here” protest claiming nothing had been done to address Head’s concerns.
  • October 4, Drunk white student said a racial slur while getting kicked off the stage of a “Legion of Black Collegians” event.
  • October 24, “Poop swatstika” on a bathroom stall door

Now it starts to get interesting:

  • November 3, Student Jonathan Butler launched a hunger strike, vowing not to eat until the president resigned. One of the reasons is that the president Tim Wolfe’s car hit him during the homecoming parade.
  • November 8, Black football players announced they would not practice or play unless Wolfe resigned, which would mean a $1M fine for the forfeit.
  • November 9, Wolfe announces his resignation:
  • Melissa Click incident shortly after that – I don’t really want to get into that one.
  • KKK hoax – Payton Head made a facebook post saying that the KKK was on campus – he apologized later for the misinformation.
    • One professor, Dale Brigham, was at the center of controversy when he chose to administer a planned exam for Nutritional Science 1034, saying, “If you don’t feel safe coming to class, then don’t come to class… I will be there, and there will be an exam administered in our class,” while allowing students an option to take a make-up exam. After some students complained that the professor was not taking the threats seriously, Brigham apologized and offered his resignation, saying, “If my leaders think that my leaving would help, I am all for it. I made a mistake, and I do not want to cause further harm.” However, the university turned down the resignation later that day


So that was Mizzou – any reactions with that limited information? Ok on to Emory just a couple weeks ago:

  • March 24, students wake up to a bunch of Pro-Trump messages written in chalk around campus.
    • Ranged from “Vote Trump” to “Build a Wall” and “Accept the inevitable”
  • That afternoon, a group of 40 to 50 students protested. According to the student newspaper, the Emory Wheel, they shouted in the quad, “You are not listening! Come speak to us, we are in pain!” and then students moved into the administration building calling out, “It is our duty to fight for our freedom. It is our duty to win. We must love each other and support each other. We have nothing to lose but our chains.”
  • Jim Wagner, the president, met with them right away, and shortly issued a campus-wide email with language like:
    • the students with whom I spoke heard a message, not about political process or candidate choice, but instead about values regarding diversity and respect that clash with Emory’s own.”
  • Quotes from other student minority organizations:
    • Yesterday, the Emory community was witness to an act of cowardice, when someone decided to plaster pro-Donald Trump slogans all over campus. The people who did this knew that what they were doing was wrong, because why else would they do so in the dead of night when no one else could witness them? They did not do this merely to support the presidential candidate, but to promote the hate and discrimination that goes along with him. While some students only see the name of a potential nominee, others see hostility and venom which promises to destroy lives.


So that was Emory, then the media got ahold of this story and went a little nuts. The consensus is that these students are whiny, overly-sensitive millennial brats. And that liberalism has gone way too far on college campuses. This was actually the slant of the article I read that got me interested in digging deeper from the Atlantic:

Conor Friesdorf here, makes some really logical arguments about how counterproductive these protests and the capitulation by administration is to people who actually want to stop Trump. He ultimately gets to kind of where I’m at, that the energy these activists have could be much better spent at stopping a political candidate than shaming a university president to denounce and punish Trump supporters.


I also read a lot of articles from students, some even of Emory itself that says it’s not so much about the actual chalkings, but that they represent ongoing issues on university campuses relating to racism.

Reactions/Thoughts? Do you guys remember anything like this happening when we were in College? Geo or Chad, can you compare our very homogenous undergrad campus experience to your masters programs that were in cities that had some more diversity? Did you pick up on this type of institutional racism that has been referenced in college campuses all across the country? Is it even possible for white dudes to pick up on institutional racism if it’s not in their face?


If we have time, there is actually a site where you can go see how many Universities are having these types of protests, and what exactly they want. Remember we talked during black lives matter podcast, as well as here and there with other pillars, about how protesters never seem to have concrete demands. Well here they are for these Universities, you be the judge how concrete they are, but at least they are in writing.

I think the only school on this list that the GG2K have attended is University of Alabama for Geo, but their link was just to a twitter feed. So I got one from Mizzou and pulled out some interesting ones:

  • We demand that by December 1, 2015 the university issue a public statement that includes the following:
    • An acknowledgment of systemic racism in higher education,
    • A commitment to differentiating “hate speech” from “freedom of speech,”
    • Instituting a zero tolerance policy for hate crimes, and
    • An explanation for moving Multicultural Services from the Division for Diversity & Inclusion to the Division of Student Affairs.
  • We demand an increase in ethnically diverse staff and students that accurately reflects our nation’s demographics within the next five years.
    • The number of staff and students should always be congruent with one another with the number of ethnically diverse staff leading.
    • This will not only assist in an increase in retention rates but actively combat the negative climate on campus.
    • Interview panels should be conducted by ethnically diverse persons.

And a couple from Emory:

  • We demand that the faculty evaluations that each student is required to complete for each of their professors include at least two open-ended questions such as: “Has this professor made any microaggressions towards you on account of your race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, language, and/or other identity?” and “Do you think that this professor fits into the vision of Emory University being a community of care for individuals of all racial, gender, ability, and class identities?” These questions on the faculty evaluations would help to ensure that there are repercussions or sanctions for racist actions performed by professors. We demand that these questions be added to the faculty evaluations by the end of this semester, Fall 2015.
  • Black staff, faculty, and administrators who advise Black organizations should receive an increase in their financial compensation or salaries. Changes should be made to the hierarchical structure of Campus Life which puts primarily white males at the top of the structure which lead to their increased compensation and salaries. Also, we demand an increase of Black staff, faculty, and administrators to be in higher positions of power so that they can implement the changes that black students wish to see in the university. We align ourselves with the letter/petition addressed to the Advisory Committee of The Board of Trustees and the Presidential Selection Committee signed by many members of the Emory University communities of color. The people who are currently in positions of power have done minimal or no work for Black students, therefore they are not thoroughly knowledgeable about how to implement diversity initiatives that help Black students. Black/POC administrators and staff are overworked and underpaid, but they are the most influential on campus. The staff needs to be paid more for the work and time that they spend ensuring that the Black community has what it needs in the areas of administration, food, maintenance and custodial services, etc.


And couldn’t resist a couple from the university of MN near where we live:

  •      We demand the U of M create and implement a plan for meeting certain benchmarks:
    ○      In one year, the university student body should be proportional to one-half of the Twin Cities demographics of non-white groups. (For example, the student body
    should be 9% Black in one year compared to the city demographics of 18% Black residents).
    ○      In two years, the university student body should be proportional to three-fourths of the city demographics of non-white groups. (For example, the student body should
    be 13.5% Black in two years compared to the city demographics of 18% Black residents).


  •      We demand an acknowledgement that the university exists as a product of colonialistic processes.
  •      We demand that the University of Minnesota Police Department eliminate racialized crime alerts.