The solidarity movement in support of University of Missouri’s student protests has made its way to New York. Over the weekend, students throughout the city attended rallies and posted their supportive messages to Facebook, using the hashtag #insolidaritywithmizzou. Students from NYU are joining the action, hoping to bring the conversation about diversity and inclusion to our campus.
The protests started when student activists at University of Missouri organized to demand changes to promote diversity and support black students at the predominantly white campus, including the resignation of former president Tim Wolfe. The protests received extensive coverage on social media and students at universities from all over the country quickly began to show their support.
Three days after Wolfe’s resignation, the student body of NYU received a message from NYU President John Sexton. In an email, Sexton acknowledged the protests and issues of racial inequality at universities and encouraged NYU to evaluate its own diversity policies. He has planned a university-wide conference for Nov. 18 in the Kimmel Center’s Eisner and Lubin auditorium.
“The anguish — particularly among students of color — is palpable, a consequence of falling short of our ambitions for achieving true diversity, inclusiveness and respect,” Sexton said in the email. “That gap between aspiration and reality fills itself with disappointment and hurt.”
President of the Black Student Union and CAS senior Arielle Andrews met with Sexton prior to the email’s delivery and said he was very open to proposals that would promote further progression in the conversation on diversity at NYU.
“I could scrutinize the email — students have certainly emailed me with their input — but personally, I was pleased to see administrative support,” Andrews said.
On Friday, students from the New School partnered with University of Missouri alumni to organize a rally in Washington Square Park. On Monday, Andrews and the BSU will host “Blackout NYU,” a day of action in Kimmel giving students the opportunity to sign a pledge against hatred and propose new policy ideas. President of Gallatin Student Council and Gallatin senior Vince Vance and Andrews are both promoting a new policy on mandatory diversity training, similar to the current AlcoholEDU and Sexual Misconduct programs.
However, improved mandatory diversity education does not mean molding everyone to the same opinions. Vance said he understands the majority of people will not understand the struggles of black students, and does not think that everyone should have the same opinions. However, he said that he hopes that more people would try to understand the problems black students face.
“It’s predominance, that’s the exhausting factor. Not necessarily that people like that exist or that they’re around or that they’re vocal, because those are conversations that need to happen,” he said. “I think they force both parties to think a little bit more, assuming that they’re engaging in conversation.”
As these conversations unfold, Tisch freshman Patrick Yeboah, who shared a message of solidarity on Facebook, said he hopes that students continue to be leaders and take action.
“It is so important that young people stand up for the things that they think matter,” Yeboah said. “So many movements that have changed the world have been led by students.”
Any and all students are invited to the upcoming events.
A version of this article appeared in the Nov. 16 print edition. Email Carmen Russo at [email protected]