Thousands of Students Just Walked out of a New York College

November 11th 2015

Kyle Jaeger

On Wednesday, hundreds of Ithaca College students turned out at Freedom Rock to protest the administration's inadequate response to racial injustices that have occurred on campus in recent months. Following the lead of protestors at the University of Missouri, students at the New York school are calling for the resignation of president Tom Rochon.

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The "Solidarity Walkout" was organized by the student group People of Color at Ithaca College, which circulated a letter citing its complaints with Rochan. Students argue that Rochan failed to address concerns about racially offensive comments made by school officials and alumni, and last month, the student government held a vote of no confidence in the president.

An estimated 1,000 students showed up Wednesday afternoon. They staged a die-in, held a moment of silence, and chanted "no confidence, Tom Rochan," echoing recent protests at the University of Missouri, where president Tim Wolfe was forced to resigned on Monday.

The People of Color published an open letter in the school newspaper following the walkout, stating unequivocally that marginalized students in the U.S. demand to be heard.

The group wrote:

"In the past couple of weeks, the racial tension and degradation of human dignity that have existed on this campus have heightened. Despite numerous protests, rallies, and stories that have been shared with the president and the administration, these testimonials have fallen on deaf ears. We will no longer consent to empty dialogue. We will no longer be ignored."

Protests at Ithaca College and the University of Missouri serve as reminders that administrators cannot ignore issues of racial inequality on campus. But they are by no means the only examples of racism at American universities, as ATTN: recently reported. Failing to address racially hostile climates at college campuses can result in increased drop out rates for minority students, studies have found.

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In a statement, Ithaca College Board of Trustees chair Tom Grape said the board supports the efforts of students to raise attention to campus climate issues and that "[t]ough times bring out the true character of a community."

"I hope that we will continue to see these conversations maintain the standard of mutual respect, a commitment to truth, and an assumption that human beings must seek connection and common ground in order to make a difference," Grape added. "We understand that the issues are serious and significant, and we are listening."