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Protesters target University of Vermont for ‘white supremacy and anti-black racism’

One protester is on a water-only diet, for some reason

A crowd mostly made up of students targeted the University of Vermont this week with allegations that the school is guilty of a lackluster response to on-campus racism.

About 150 protesters congregated at the university’s Waterman Building yesterday “to decry school administrators’ response to campus racism,” according to Seven Days, an independent newspaper in Burlington, Vermont.

The protest, organized by a group called NoNames for Justice and titled the “Done With Bullshit Rally,” was motivated by a controversial event on campus in which “someone taped racially charged note cards to the Mosaic Center for Students of Color display case,” according to Seven Days.

According to the report, the crowd demanded “the resignation of three administrators, including UVM president Tom Sullivan and vice provost for student affairs Annie Stevens.” It is unclear why the demands for resignation were issued.

One protester, university staffer John Mejia, who is also undertaking a hunger strike in protest of the university, told the crowd: “As a non-black person of color, my place here is not to speak for my black family members…My place here is as an accomplice, to throw my body into the twin, heartless gears of white supremacy and anti-black racism that run this city and university — to force them to grind to a halt.”

Seven Days did not cite any specific examples of white supremacy and anti-black racism “running” the University of Vermont.

Yesterday Tom Sullivan and Annie Stevens sent out an email alongside other campus officials in which they affirmed that the university “will continue, as we have, to speak out against racism, bigotry and injustice.”

“Regardless of whether [racist] messages come from within or outside our community, we condemn them to the fullest extent,” the email reads. “We have no tolerance for racism in any form.”

The letter also expresses concern over Mejia’s hunger strike: “We appreciate John Mejia’s passion for racial equality both on campus and in the city of Burlington. We are concerned for John’s health and wellbeing. We are offering John health assistance and support as John makes personal choices regarding these issues.”

According to Seven Days, Mejia “has vowed to remain on a hunger strike until the university and the city of Burlington address a list of nine demands.”

Read the whole report here, and the university’s email here.

MORE: Public university president compares his students to the ‘fascists’ they protest

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