What transpired on the Ithaca College campus last semester — student-led protests and a week-long occupation of the Peggy Ryan Williams Center — was historic in terms of participation, intensity and impact. Over 1,000 students rallied at one time, drawing national eyes and ears to our small college’s message about racial injustices.
It is imperative that the campus community turn this remarkable energy into productive action this semester to keep this momentum going.
Last semester was not the first time students have brought up issues of racism and microaggressions through demonstrations. Last year, a group of students known as The Collective organized a die-in in response to the death of Eric Garner, followed by a rally at the PRW Center. Shortly after this protest, in December 2014, they issued a list of demands, among them a revised Native American studies minor. Last February, the group hosted a public week-long Assata Shakur discussion series, which led to critical conversations about indigenous studies and media representation of people of color.
POC at IC has again raised these issues to the forefront of campus discussion, and it’s up to everyone to keep them there.
We ended last semester with more members of the campus community on a united front than ever before, but even with one key issue resolved, we cannot take a step backward, or even stand still. At other campuses where students have demonstrated for racial justice, both administrators and students have taken steps forward by signing agreements, like at Towson and Princeton Universities, detailing commitments that would be met by the fall.
To move forward, every constituency on campus, including the college administration, must rise up and continue thinking about and taking action on these issues that students have raised time and time again.