Students Protest Discrimination at Illinois State University
Written by Maritza Navar-Lopez on October 8, 2019
NORMAL – Students at Illinois State University marched across the quad Monday chanting “This fake diversity has got to go.”
Protestors gathered in front of Hovey Hall, ISU’s administration building, to protest the treatment of diverse students on campus.
Students claimed they have dealt with discrimination for years. Examples ranged from metal detectors being required at events hosted by diverse RSOs but not at events hosted by predominantly white organizations like University Program Board, to students reporting harassment and discrimination with no response by the university.
Larry Dietz, ISU President, sent out a response via email late Tuesday afternoon.
“It troubles me deeply when Illinois State is characterized as not upholding its value of diversity and inclusion,” stated Dietz. “Not so much for myself, but for the hundreds of students, faculty and staff members who work tirelessly to provide an inclusive and welcoming environment at the University.”
Dietz encouraged students to meet with him and the Campus Climate Task Force to determine how to create an inclusive environment at ISU.
Genesis Robinson, Student Government Association Black Student Union representative, questioned how diversity is a core value for the university.
“I don’t like being used as a token. I am not anyone’s token, especially not this damn university,” Robinson said. “A token is a pawn used when people are weak because they need to strengthen their numbers.”
Protestors took to the quad to march after ISU’s Black Homecoming Committee event at Redbird Arena was cancelled. The Black Homecoming Committee claims the cancellation was for a last-minute volleyball practice. University officials, including President Dietz, said that Redbird Arena was never officially booked for the event and arena management tried to accommodate requests as best they could.
“While an event was discussed, it was never contracted or scheduled with the Department of Athletics or any other area of the University,” stated Dietz. “During discussions about a potential event, security concerns were raised, but these are security protocols that apply to the entire University – not just certain groups or individuals.”
The Black Homecoming Committee took to Twitter with the hashtag #AntiBlackISU to express their frustrations as students waited for their homecoming concert announcement.
The single biggest problem we’ve been facing is the fact that ISU does not uphold its pillar of diversity. There are hoops we have to jump through as black organizations that white organizations don’t. This has been happening for years and it’s happening now.
— Black Homecoming Committee (@BHC_ISU) October 4, 2019
The organizers of the protest said they deserve to go to a university they feel comfortable and safe in.
Students, alumni, and administrators gathered Monday evening to share stories of the discrimination students have dealt with in housing, dining, and around campus.
Students were encouraged to document these events to present them to administrators and authorities so further action can be taken when they report acts of discrimination. They were also provided with a list of resources and organizations available for diverse students.
WZND wants to hear from students who have been victims of discrimination at ISU. We want to be a platform for your story. Please call (309)438-5499 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to have your voice heard.