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THE ITHACAN

The Student News Site of Ithaca College

THE ITHACAN

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Support Us
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Your donation will support The Ithacan's student journalists in their effort to keep the Ithaca College and wider Ithaca community informed. Your contribution will allow us to purchase equipment and cover our annual website hosting costs.

Editorial: The college must follow student advocacy with action

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Illustration by Ananya Gambhiraopet

In an ideal world, a college campus is an environment that signifies progress and change. It is a space where like-minded young people are able to learn, grow and express what they believe. At Ithaca College, advocacy has always been a vital part of the campus community. However, it is not solely up to students to push for change. It is also the administration’s responsibility to hear students’ demands and respond with effective action.

A commemoration of demonstrations from the Afro-Latin Society (ALS) in 1970 was held March 25. The commemoration recognized the efforts of students in ALS who gathered outside of President Howard Dillinghman’s office to protest the allocation of $90,000 of Education Opportunity Program (EOP) funds toward landscaping rather than programming for students of color. Following the sit-in, students were met with less-than-supportive words from President Dillingham, who spoke about protesters saying “a mob is a mob,” followed by a statement saying that he would not be “discussing the Black demands.” These dismissive words not only inhibit student action, but show a blatant carelessness when it comes to students of color that is unacceptable.

54 years following the 1970s sit-in, student-led advocacy continues to be a central part of student life at the college. Student coalitions like IC Rise Up have continued to form to demand changes and initiatives that will better support students of color. At a predominately white institution, administrative support for students of color is especially important. And yet, the responsibility of pushing for more just policies has time and time again become the responsibility of students of color.

Most recently, Ithaca College Students for Palestine (ICFSP) hosted a die-in March 23 in Peggy Ryan Williams in protest of the college’s lack of response to tens of thousands of deaths in Gaza. Students met with President La Jerne Terry Cornish to discuss a list of demands. Cornish said that she would discuss the demands with her team and that she supports students’ right to protest. 

Cornish’s acknowledgment of ICSP’s protest, as well as the commemoration of the 1970 ALS demonstrations, signifies that the college has become gradually more open to student advocacy on campus. The commemoration in particular shows a recognition of where the college has gone wrong in the past, thus allowing for reflection on how to better support students of color and student advocacy in general. However, the administrative action that follows this recognition will indicate whether or not the college is truly dedicated to student-driven change. It is imperative that the college follows up with ICFSP about their demands, and furthermore, supports future student-led initiatives advocating for a more inclusive, just world.

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