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Penn State students, faculty protest cancellation of planned race justice center

A week after word came that a planned Center for Racial Justice had been sidelined, over 100 Penn State students and faculty rallied to protest the decision — and demand it be reversed.

The center apparently was a victim of a $127 million budget deficit, but Penn State officials still promised “financial investment in existing [diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging] initiatives.”

The November 3 pro-center rally included “distributed posters and banners” and chants of “No justice, no peace,” the Daily Collegian reports.

Divine Lipscomb, special projects coordinator for PSU’s Restorative Justice Initiative, said the university “was not meeting standards for racial justice on campus.” He said “I’m here to let people know that we ain’t forget. If this is a space of academic learning, who forgot to put some thought into this?”

Michelle Rodino-ColocinoProfessor Michelle Rodino-Colocino (pictured), who teaches courses on “Critical and Cultural Studies of Media, Feminist Media Studies and Media and Activism,” told the crowd “It’s time that we amplify our voices. We want to be an anti-racist and anti-sexist university.”

Political Science Professor Errol Henderson, the “first and only tenured black professor” at PSU and author of a coming book on how white racism affects the field of international relations, blasted the center’s cancellation by saying “I’ve been here 20 years fighting the fight against white supremacism.”

MORE: PSU ‘wavers’ on building racial justice center in wake of budget deficit

Demonstrators also demanded charges be dropped against a PSU student who protested at October 24’s “Uncensored America” event featuring Gavin McInnes and Alex Stein. This, along with the demand that the Center for Racial Justice’s cancellation be reversed, were among ten total mandates presented at the demonstration.

The eight remaining demands are not listed in the article; The College Fix asked the Daily Collegian news editors if there was a link to the demands or if the paper merely decided not to print them. They did not respond.

The Daily Collegian editorial board wrote on November 10 that the decision to cancel the center is “negatively affecting marginalized communities” and is “a huge step backward for the university in terms of elevating inclusivity on campus.”

If the university’s budget is the reason for the cancellation, then it must be addressed that while the financial situation is important, it should not give enough cause to take down an initiative that was going to immensely contribute to a value Penn State was working hard to uphold. …

Taking away the Center for Racial Justice is a bad look for the university. It’s impossible for prospective students who identify as part of marginalized groups to be assured they will feel safe at an institution that doesn’t seem to care to prioritize them.

MORE: PSU prof: Maybe masked drunk drivers should speed through ‘pro-covid’ neighborhoods

IMAGES: David Carillet/Shutterstock.com; Penn State screencap

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About the Author
Associate Editor
Dave has been writing about education, politics, and entertainment for over 20 years, including a stint at the popular media bias site Newsbusters. He is a retired educator with over 25 years of service and is a member of the National Association of Scholars. Dave holds undergraduate and graduate degrees from the University of Delaware.