Massachusetts Daily Collegian

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A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

Stand Against Racism event focuses on anti-racist student activism

(Judith Gibson-Okunieff/ Daily Collegian)
(Judith Gibson-Okunieff/ Daily Collegian)

A group of student run organizations, faculty and administration members have collaborated to host a day-long discussion dedicated to grassroots responses to racism within higher education. The Racial Justice Coalition, comprised of more than a dozen organizations, is dedicating Friday at the University of Massachusetts to address anti-racism and anti-white supremacy student activism on college campuses.

Participants plan to gather in front of the Student Union at approximately 11:45 a.m. for a “Racial Justice March” that will set the day’s events in motion. Marchers will then proceed to the Commonwealth Honors College Events Hall where the remainder of the day’s programs will take place.

A student activism panel that includes members from UMass, Amherst College and the University of Missouri will follow the march to CHC at 1 p.m., according to the group’s Facebook page. The current wave of anti-racist student activism can be traced back to the events that transpired at the University of Missouri in late October 2015.

At Missouri, minority students collaborated with athletes to host a series of protests regarding their university administration’s response to a number of racially charged incidents, according to multiple media reports. The protests led to the subsequent resignation of the university system president, Tim Wolfe.

Students at Amherst College also staged their own anti-racism demonstrations in November following the developments at Missouri’s campus. A collection of student groups at Amherst College coined their movement “Amherst Uprising” after students occupied the Robert Frost Library in solidarity with students of color at Missouri, Yale University and other colleges, according to the group’s website.

Members of the UMass campus established their own campaign that culminated in a student walkout led by members of the Black Student Union and Student Bridges in late Nov. 2015. The demonstrations resulted in a response from the administration in the form of campus-wide emails, listening and discussion sessions and an expansion of the University’s Strategic Diversity Plan.

While University administration members have scheduled a number of public events to explore ways to improve diversification and have participated in multiple student-run events expressing solidarity against discrimination, racist incidents have continued to occur at UMass.

Multiple instances of racist, homophobic and Islamophobic speech have appeared across campus, drawing outrage and responses from University officials denouncing hate and pledging a proactive approach to address racism at UMass.

Chancellor Kumble Subbaswamy sent an email to UMass community Tuesday in response to the latest incident, where the words “Stop Islam” was written in chalk at the Fine Arts Center.

“While we have worked together this past academic year, listening to each other and to campus guests who have shared their experiences and expertise, we must continue our efforts to create a campus community that respects everyone,” Subbaswamy said in the email.

The Chancellor’s email indicates that recent responses denouncing racism do not solve the root causes of these incidents.

“What is harder to address is the challenging environment we are currently living in on our campus, across the country, and throughout the world. That is why we must all educate ourselves and speak up to condemn hateful acts like this one, redoubling our efforts to build a just and inclusive, safe environment here on campus and in our communities,” the email said.

The “Racial Affinity Group Dialogue” will be held at 3:15 p.m. after the student panel.

The “Stand Against Racism” event will conclude with a performance by the UMass Social Justice group SHAHA.

Friday’s events are co-hosted by the Black Student Union, CMASS, the Stonewall Center, Afro-American Studies Department, Student Bridges and the Student Government Association, among others.

Attempts to contact organizers of the event for comment were not returned by the time of this article’s publication.

Brendan Deady can be reached at [email protected] or followed on Twitter @bdeady26.

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    David Hunt 1990Apr 6, 2016 at 12:06 pm

    Tell me, please, what race is “Islam”?