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Accuracy • Independence • Integrity

September 23, 2017   |   Ithaca, NY

News

POC at IC occupies Peggy Ryan Williams Center for fourth day

UPDATE: POC at IC ended the occupation Dec. 13, according to a post on the event’s Facebook page.

Members of the student protest group POC at IC continued their occupation of the Peggy Ryan Williams Center Dec. 10.

As of 8:30 p.m., 50 members and supporters of the student group, which stands for People of Color at Ithaca College and has been protesting the racial climate on campus this semester, continued to occupy the first, second and third floors of the building.

Students spread the occupation to the third floor today around noon after realizing the doors were unlocked. Students’ possessions are now spread throughout the building except the garden floor, which remains barred off to students.

Ithaca College President Tom Rochon was intercepted and questioned while on his way out of the building by a student at around 6:20 p.m.

More than 35 students stood in front of Rochon in the lobby of the building while a female student, sophomore Ilana Diamant, confronted him about a phone call she had received while working for the Annual Fund from an Ithaca College alumni regarding her involvement with POC at IC.

“I talked to a very wealthy alum that had some very strong opinions as well as some very disrespectful things to say to me as a person and student,” she said.

Rochon told the student that he was unaware of the incident and told the student that he himself receives disrespectful emails and letters from time to time.

Students continued to question Rochon about his whereabouts from the past few days and why he had not come downstairs to directly speak to POC at IC. Rochon briefly explained that in his opinion, students did not want engage in dialogue. This statement elicited frustration from the students and they asked for him to leave if he did not want to engage in “meaningful dialogue.”

Rochon promptly left, and students began chanting, “Tom Rochon, no confidence!”

“Recognizing that the POC at IC student and the administration have shared a space in the Peggy Ryan building for four days, it was my hope that there might be some interest in dialogue,” Rochon said. “We had a conversation, but I would not call it dialogue and in the end, they asked me to leave, which I did.”

A teach-in was held on the topic of intersectionality, and a group of 50 students discussed how aspects like race, gender, socioeconomic class and orientations affect how groups of people interact and support each other. The teach-in was facilitated by Carla Golden, coordinator of women’s and gender studies and professor in the Department of Psychology. Students also discussed different forms of oppression and the need for a widespread support for all oppressed groups of people.

A group of faculty and staff, including Golden; Rachel Kaufman, lecturer in the Department of Writing; Robyn Wishna, lecturer in the Department of Media Arts, Sciences and Studies; and Maura Stephens, associate director of the Park Center for Independent Media, brought food for the occupiers and volunteered their time to help students with their assignments or resources that they may need through the night and tomorrow.

According to the Facebook event for the occupation, it is scheduled to end at noon Dec. 11. However, several participants said they planned on continuing the occupation until Rochon resigns.

Parita Desai can be reached at pdesai@ithaca.edu or via Twitter: @paritadesai_