University students hold anti-racism protests across US – as it happened

Last modified: 09: 19 PM GMT+0
  • #StudentBlackOut demonstrations planned from Yale to Mizzou
  • Day of action follows protests over racism issues at University of Missouri
  • Students demand diversity training, resignations and more faculty of color

#StudentBlackOut protests demand change across then country

Here’s a look at some of the actions today, as we close out The Guardian’s liveblog of #StudentBlackOut protests across the country.

Demonstrations gathered at preeminent institutions such as Harvard, Tufts and Princeton, and state schools such as Towson University alike. Students protested what activists saw as institutional racism.

  • The “day of action” was called for by the Black Liberation Collective, a group organized by far-flung student activists hoping to accelerate the anti-racism student movement’s momentum.
  • At Princeton, protesters continue to occupy the university president’s office, calling for change.
  • Administrators there also did away with the “masters” title for heads of colleges. Without mentioning race, administrators said the titles were “historically vexed”.
  • Many students demanded schools give free tuition for black and indigenous students and that institutions divest from for-profit prisons.
  • Some schools called for change specific to their institution. At University of Cincinnati, students called for police who were at the scene of a shooting of an unarmed black man to be barred from patrolling campus.
  • Demonstrations are expected to continue through the evening, as another wave of protests begin at campuses in California.
  • Some celebrities took notice of the protests – actress Laverne Cox tweeted her approval of the #StudentBlackOut protests.
  • Yik Yak continued to be a forum for discussion of race on campus, though there were no known threats to students (as there were last week at the University of Missouri).
  • Canadian schools also took part, including at the University of Ottawa, University of Toronto, and Ryerson University.

Students at Tufts University have just walked out of class. There, students have used the hashtag #thethreepercent to highlight the school’s percentage of black students.

Just 4% of Tufts students are black, and only 84% graduate after six years (known as a retention rate), the lowest of any ethnicity at the school. As a point of comparison, 94% of white students at Tufts graduate after six years, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.

BREAKING: Tufts students walk out of classes for #StudentBlackOut. Follow for live #thethreepercent coverage. #TuftsWithTheThree

— The Tufts Daily (@TuftsDaily) November 18, 2015

Actress Laverne Cox weighs in on protests

Best known for her role in the Netflix series Orange is the New Black, actress Laverne Cox just weighed in on protests at universities across the country.

Love that students all over the country are demanding institutional change at their universities. #StudentBlackOut

— Laverne Cox (@Lavernecox) November 18, 2015

Protesters at Stanford University: “It is our duty to fight for our freedom.”

Protesters at Stanford University chant during the #StudentBlackOut day of action.

Demonstrators at the University of Cincinnati are in silent protest, standing in a chilly rain.

@theIRATE8 #StudentBlackOut silent protest at @uofcincy #TheIrate8 @PrezOno

— The Irate Eight (@theIRATE8) November 18, 2015

The first demand from activists there is that two university police officers, Phillip Kid and David Lindenschmidt, be barred from patrolling campus. The two officers were on scene after fellow university police officer Ray Tensing shot and killed a 43-year-old unarmed black man, Sam DuBose.

The protesters are also asking for extensive background checks” of police, faculty and staff.

We’re less than 30 minutes away from another wave of protests on the west coast.

We’re expecting actions at University of California at Berkeley and at Stanford University. Demonstrations should also start soon at Michigan State University.

#StudentBlackOut #BlackAtStanford

— sydney (@sydneyosifeso) November 18, 2015

@CalBSU walkout is starting in thirty minutes! #StudentBlackOut #Mizzou2Cal

— #Mizzou2Cal (@BlakeDontCrack) November 18, 2015

Protesters at Ryerson University in downtown Toronto, Canada have hung a sign from what appears to be a parking garage.

Just a few months ago administrators there removedwhite student union” signs from around campus, calling them “offensive.”


— Sefanit H. (@SefanitH) November 18, 2015


Princeton does away with 'masters' titles for college heads

Still more Princeton news here: without ever mentioning race or protests, the university announces “masters” of the residential colleges will change their titles to “heads” of colleges, effective immediately.

The former ‘masters’ of our six residential colleges have long been in conversation with the Office of the Dean of the College about their anachronistic, historically vexed titles,” Dean of the College Jill Dolan said in a press release. “We believe that calling them ‘head of the college’ better captures the spirit of their work and their contributions to campus residential life.”

The school’s president, Christopher L Eisgruber, whose office is currently being occupied, also commented on the name change.

I enthusiastically support the change adopted by our heads of college... The new title better describes their roles, and it does away with antiquated terminology that discomfited some students, faculty, and the heads of college themselves.”

As the Princeton Press Club points out, one of the largest forums for discussion of race (and for backlash against protesters) on college campuses has been the pseudo-anonymous sharing app Yik Yak.

We call it pseudo-anonymous because the company gathers at least enough user information gathered to track threats and report them to police. The company admitted providing user information to police after users threatened protesters at the University of Missouri.

Princeton's Yik Yak largely pro-#Princeton administration right now. An #EisgruberMatters hashtag has 80+ up votes.

— Univ Press Club (@UnivPressClub) November 18, 2015

Protests are also happening in the halls of at least one school of criminal justice – here’s a shot from inside John Jay College in New York City.

.@JohnJayCollege stands with @Mizzou #myjohnjay #cuny #ConcernedStudent1950 #nyc #education

— ANGY (@AskAngy) November 18, 2015

Here’s a look inside the sit-in at the president’s office at Princeton University.

Video from the protest inside Pres Eisgruber's office. "We here! We been here. We ain't leavin. We are loved."

— Univ Press Club (@UnivPressClub) November 18, 2015

We’re here. We been here. We ain’t leaving. We are loved.”

Wesleyan students secure meeting with provost

We’re seeing reports that protesters at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst have successfully secured a meeting with Katherine Newman, the school’s provost to discuss racism on campus.

Protesters have also reportedly asked students to screenshot racist social media comments.

The meeting is finalized: Sunday at 12 p.m. Still trying to decide on a space. #UMassAmherst #StudentBlackOut

— Katie Bowler (@bowler_kathryn) November 18, 2015

Wesbite collects demands of 21 universities

Demands from almost two dozen schools have been collected on one website by Twitter user @samswey, an activist with Campaign Zero. That campaign looks to stop police violence.

The Guardian has tracked at least 1,005 people killed by police in 2015.

These are living demands and will grow and change as the work grows and changes,” reminds us.

Students at Wesleyan University have issued their own set of demands.

Students there are asking for an equity advocate, a multicultural center and tracking of faculty and staff “micro-aggressions”.

President Michael Roth, past presidents, and the bureaucracy of this institution have actively neglected to address issues that pertain to students of color and empower them with the same level of resources, consideration, and inclusion historically available to white students.

Hundreds of students gather in front of president's office with a list of demands #StudentBlackOut

— WesFossilFuelDivest (@wesffdivest) November 18, 2015

Students across the country protest racism on campus

Here’s a quick recap of what’s been happening at college and university campuses across the country:

  • The Black Liberation Collective has called for a day of protest against racism on campus.
  • The group has demanded free tuition for black and indigenous students, that faculties at universities across the country reflect surrounding communities, and that schools divest from the for-profit prison industry.
  • We’ve seen more than a dozen schools protesting. Actions are happening right now at Princeton, Wesleyan and the University of Cincinnati (among other schools) and more are planned at Stanford University, in Atlanta, Georgia and the University of Pittsburgh, to name a few.

When we talk about higher education, we like to paint it as a different type of system,” Yamiesha Bell, a national organizer with the Black Liberation Collective told The Guardian. “It was built for white men, it was built on stolen land, and it was built on the backs of black people and that’s important for us to realize when we talk about race on campus.”

Here is some of the latest video coming out of the University of Cincinnati, where a student group called the Irate 8 has organized students.

"If you are silent about your pain, they will kill you and say you enjoyed it." Zora Neale Hurston #StudentBlackOut

— Alowishus Humpries (@thetalkuc) November 18, 2015

And here’s more video from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst.

Students march to Blue Wall

— Katie Bowler (@bowler_kathryn) November 18, 2015

One protester at Princeton has told us students are already occupying President Christopher Eisgruber’s office.

@Princeton students occupying President Eisgruber's office until demands are met. #StudentBlackOut

— joey (@j_anyanwu) November 18, 2015

And Princeton University’s press club has tweeted a list of demands issued by the school’s Black Justice League.

We demand the university administration publicly acknowledge the racist legacy of Woodrow Wilson ...

We demand cultural competency training for all faculty and staff...

We demand a cultural place on campus dedicated specifically to black students...”

Here’s the full document.

Princeton's Black Justice League issue 3 demands. They intend to sit-in until President Eisgruber signs them.

— Univ Press Club (@UnivPressClub) November 18, 2015

We just learned students are protesting at the University of Pittsburgh today, beginning at 4pm ET.

We’re also expecting demonstrations from students at Emory University, Morehouse and Spelman College around 6pm ET.

#StudentBlackOut #nationalblackout PGH STUDENTS IN SOLIDARITY

— @trs.trs (@trilla_trs) November 18, 2015

There are also calls for protests in Amherst, Boston and Worcester Massachusetts, at Stanford University in California, and Rutgers University in New Jersey.

We also know at least one Canadian school, the University of Toronto, has issued a set of demands, asking administrators to hire more black faculty, provide better mental health services to students of color and to divest from the American for-profit prison industry (a demand suggested by the Black Liberation Collective).

Anti-blackness is systemic. And anti-blackness is a choice. In order to address anti-blackness, we must all become anti-racist in our actions.”

If you know of more protests, please tweet them to us.

#StudentBlackOut #BlackonCampusUofT

— Sefanit H. (@SefanitH) November 18, 2015

Today’s “day of action” takes place across the country, but times seem to vary. We’re expecting protests at University of Cincinnati in Ohio to begin at 12pm ET.

Tomorrow, 12 pm on Mainstreet. Be there. #theirate8 #studentblackout

— Tobi (@mocutobi) November 17, 2015

Others protests at the University of Michigan and the University of California at Berkeley around 3pm ET.

Organizers have told The Guardian that protests are also expected at Yale, Harvard and in Atlanta, Georgia.

Good morning, and welcome to our live blog on the #StudentBlackOut protests planned for universities across the US today.

Anti-racism demonstrations have roiled schools from Yale University in Connecticut to the University of Missouri to Kean University in New Jersey in recent weeks.

Students at these schools, especially black students, have been threatened online, received pushback from within their communities, but have also been successful in some of their demands.

  • Today’s protests are organized by the Black Liberation Collective, a group that called for today’s protests on social media, and describes itself as organizing black student unions across the country.
  • The collective appears to be riding the groundswell of support for the Black Lives Matter movement.
  • The most high-profile protests took place at the University of Missouri last week, where the school system’s chancellor and president resigned after the football team joined in anti-racism protests.
  • Since then, student protesters across the country have made similar demands for diversity training, resignations, and more faculty of color.
  • This hasn’t come without pushback – students at Mizzou were threatened anonymously last week, and Kean University students were threatened online today, according to local police.

You can read the full story of the planned protesters here. And we’ll have live coverage throughout the day on this blog.


Jessica Glenza in New York

The GuardianTramp

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