POC at IC, a student group which has been protesting the racial climate on campus this semester, began an occupation of the Peggy Ryan Williams administrative building Dec. 7.
A Facebook group for the event was created just before 9 a.m. Dec. 7. The event, titled #OccupyPRW, aims to “demand Tom Rochon’s immediate resignation and reclaim and transform PRW to a safe space for community, education, and healing for the ALANA community and and its allies.”
Between 9 a.m. and 11:30 a.m., members of the group in the building, gathered in the lobby area working quietly, fluctuating between 15 and 30 people.
Around 10:40 a.m., Roger Richardson, interim chief diversity officer, spoke to the demonstrators, extending an invitation to speak to him at any point throughout the day, and making sure they were “safe.” Richardson said he and his colleague Rory Rothman, associate provost for student life, were asked to leave by a member of POC at IC.
As of now, no students have accepted his invitation to speak.
“I went down to share an invitation to talk and to make sure that they were safe and to extend the opportunity for conversation if they wanted to,” Richardson said. “Usually when students are engaged in activities where they are occupying space on campus, we always extend an invitation to have conversation. … As an administrator here at the college for 15 years, it’s been my responsibility to work with faculty, staff and students in a variety of different capacities with the primary guiding principle being making sure that everyone is comfortable, everyone is safe.”
Student demonstrators declined to comment about the event.
POC at IC members as well as Richardson are stressing the importance of safety.
Students passed around a clipboard for people to sign out and designate if and when they will be coming back so they know everyone is safe. Students would receive phone calls if their whereabouts were unknown according to the log information, said a student during an announcement at the event.
This story will be updated.