Diversity and Transparency Rally unites protest movements on campus

The rally took place in front of Hendricks Chapel at 3:30 p.m. on Monday.

Drawing together many of the individual protest movements active on campus this semester, approximately 200 people gathered on the steps of Hendricks Chapel Monday afternoon for the “Diversity and Transparency Rally.”

Organized by the recently formed student organization, the General Body, students from a variety of backgrounds and clubs converged to protest what they described as a series of closed-door decisions made by the administration. They also raised issues of discrimination on campus, both inside and outside the classroom.

Issues such as the closure of the Advocacy Center, the decision to not divest fossil fuels and the cuts to the POSSE program were all among the topics that were discussed.

In a 43-page document posted to their website, the General Body laid out a list of grievances and demands. Demands included transparency when making policy changes, as well as an explanation from Chancellor Kent Syverud and meetings with the various affected student groups. They also called for the formation of a student advisory committee for the administration.

“What we are putting on today is supposed to bring light to the decisions that have been made affecting all these students without any input from us,” said Emma Edwards, a geography and policy studies senior.

Beginning at 2 p.m., students began to gather on the steps to share poems, music and other creative forms of expression to give a personal light to their individual causes. Then at 3 p.m., representatives from various student groups spoke to the growing crowd about how their members have been affected by the administration’s decisions.

Each speech was met with an impassioned chant, reflecting the student body’s sense of urgency to make change. One of the most popular chants was, “The people united will never be defeated.”

Speakers at the rally said they are unhappy with current policy decisions. But more so, they said, they are unhappy with the manner in which some policies have been made.

“It was a very undemocratic process,” Edwards said. She, among some others in the crowd, became involved through in the Diversity and Transparency Rally through her involvement in the divestment campaign at SU.  “That decision was made behind closed doors,” she said of SU’s decision not to divest fossil fuels. “They didn’t tell us when it was going to be, they didn’t invite a student representative.”

As the policy changes affected a variety of students from all corners of the SU campus, some students said they attended to raise their specific problems with the administration. That presence will bring visibility to the issues on hand, Edwards said.

“We are all unique but similar in so many ways,” said organizer Colton Jones, a psychology senior. “The struggles that one group faces, everyone faces.”

In the past few months, an increase of student protests and expressions of dissatisfaction among the student body has given hope to those advocating for policy changes, said Student Association speaker Daniel Hernandez. “The change we want can finally come through,” he said.

When the rally concluded at 4:30 p.m., participants marched to Crouse-Hinds Hall to deliver their list of demands to the administration. Upon entering the building through a back door, they staged a sit-in in the building’s lobby. Their intention, several organizers said, is to remain until they receive a written and verbal acknowledgment of their demands from the chancellor. 

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