UR Students Protest Racial Inequality on Campus

On Friday afternoon, students, faculty and community members gathered to stand in solidarity with Mizzou and address the race issues at our university.

They met at Douglass Leadership House and marched across campus, passing through Wallis Hall and Rush Rhees and ending Wilson Commons. 

Among their chants were verses from an Assata Shakur poem:

It is our duty to fight for our freedom. It is our duty to win. We must love each other and support each other. We have nothing to lose but our chains.

Protesters challenged the U of R administration's failure to address needs of minority students. "This was in response to not only what happened at Mizzou but an ongoing issue at the University of Rochester," said Simone Johnson, President of the Black Students' Union. "The race relations here are toxic and they affect the mental health of minority students. This was our way of getting the administration’s attention so that initiatives can go into place that keep us safe, because as of now the students don’t feel safe here."

A list of demands was delivered to President Seligman's office. The list (signed by presidents of Douglass Leadership House, the Spanish and Latino Students' Association, the Black Students' Union and the Minority Student Advisory Board) demanded that President Seligman hold a town hall meeting to address racial inequality, the creation of a campaign to combat racial injustice at the university (similar to the national campaign to combat sexual misconduct), the establishment of the Douglass Leadership House as a permanent, funded part of the UR community, and many other steps to give underrepresented students a greater voice on campus.  

They also called for the immediate removal of Yik Yak from the UR server. When DLH's house was renewed last semester, there was a backlash of racist, threatening posts on Yik Yaks (the investigation into whether these posts broke harrasment laws is still ongoing).

Those Yik Yaks--along with the list of demands--were taped to the George Eastman statue.   

One Yik Yak read, "Let's all protest in front of DLHs House. #WHITELIVESMATTER" and had been upvoted 16 times. 

In Wilson Commons, students hung a list outlining the university's history of racial injustice. 


Student leaders will meet with Seligman over the next weeks to discuss their demands and plan the next steps.

President Seligman will also issue a statement next week. 


Click here for more details on the demonstration.