Independent News Analysis: Outside Coverage of Pertinent Campus Events

Forty-five students marched through the campus in a light rain last Friday pro­testing a string of racist comments that were posted in response to an article senior Trinel Torian wrote about Colgate’s failure to properly integrate minority students. They gathered on the chapel steps at 5:45 before marching through Frank Dining Hall, across the residential quad and then down to and through Case library.

Organizers printed copies of the rac­ist comments which were taken down from the Maroon-News website and handed them out before starting the march. “If everyone was white at Col­gate,” one read, “then I wouldn’t have to worry about getting harpooned by one of the morbidly obese black girls in the minority corner of the Jug when I am black out drunk.” Another anonymous person wrote, “if everyone were white Colgate’s ranking would go up since the SATs of accepted student’s would go up.” A third read, “if black kids feel mar­ginalized by receiving financial aid to come here then they should refuse ‘this gift,’ provided by wealthy, white racist alumni no less, and take out $200,000+ worth in loans to come here. Let’s see if your bulls**t African American Studies degree will get you a good enough job to pay off that bone crushing debt.”

After 10 minutes, one of the leaders of the demonstration, junior Samuel Spitz, addressed the group. “Everybody here to­day is not ready to be silent,” he shouted. “There’s a community here that’s tired of hearing this and no longer willing to ac­cept it.” The group then began marching and chanted to the beat of a drum, “Don’t try to conceal. Racism is real.”

Students held up signs that read, “Rac­ist comments will not be tolerated and they cannot simply be deleted,” and “Rac­ist comments HURT. We are not going to let this slide without a fight.”

The students in Frank stood silently and held their trays as they watched the group inundate the main dining area. Protestors assembled for six minutes while they listened to Spitz read each comment aloud. At the end, they exited the doors yelling, “No Justice, No Peace” and circled the residential buildings, heading for the library.

Three professors attended the pro­test – Claudia Romanelli, Yuliya Ilchuk, and Helene Julien – along with Jamie Bergeron, Assistant Director LGTBQ & CLSI. Dean of the College Scott Brown was also present.

The group reached the library at 6:15 and descended the main staircase to the third floor where they again read the comments aloud to the fifteen or so students that poked their heads over computers to listen.

“We’re tired of Brown Bag lunches,” Torian said. “We’re tired of ‘initiatives’. If you’re gonna bring us here, you gotta treat us right.”

At 6:25 the group paused for part­ing words at Case library’s bottom steps. Several students, some of whom had not felt comfortable to speak up until now, reflected on the alienation many minority students feel on the Colgate campus.

Sophomore Ibrihim Shah, another leader of the demonstration, localized this racism.

“If we are to confront racism and all forms of inequality on this campus,” he said, “we must do so at the forefront, that being Greek Life. These systems have al­ways propagated the belief that somehow, as minorities of all forms – race, gender, sexual identity and economic status – we are less than or inferior to our mainstream rich white counterparts. We are contrary to popular belief. We are a strong and in­telligent community that will no longer be impeded. We demand change, and will take the action necessary to bring about that change.”

President Jeffrey Herbst responded to the outrage on Monday in an e-mail, “Letter to the Community.” He singled out those who breed bigoted language at Colgate, writing that “this base level of discourse and other race-related incidents are completely unac­ceptable and do not reflect the sentiments of the Colgate community.”

“This sentence,” Spitz said, “is a typi­cal response. It’s one that’s grounded in nothing. I think the incidents we’ve seen from certain institutions on this campus contradict that message. How many bad apples does it take to spoil a tree?”

Shah also responded. “I find it insulting and illogical for President Herbst to say that these incidents are isolated and not indicative of the Colgate community.”

Contact Thomas Hedges at [email protected].