Approximately 200 students, staff, and faculty took to the streets of the University of Massachusetts at Amherst on Thursday to demand school officials do more about racism and white supremacy on campus.
The protest, organized by the Graduate Employee Organization, included several demands of UMass administrators including the dismantling of the anonymous campus police tip line because it allegedly “targets people of color.”
According to MassLive.com, the GEO also demanded UMass scrap its ties with the Amherst Police Department as the relationship “encourages highly punitive University measures against students” and “has somehow seemingly left racist terrorizers free of any meaningful response from UMass.”
The demonstrators declared their demands at the Whitmore Administration Building after passing by the Melville dormitory, site of several reported instances of “racist graffiti” this semester.
In calling for the rally, the group outlined a number of incidents this semester, including the racial slurs written at the Melville dorm, homophobic and transphobic slurs, accompanied by a swastika, on a student’s door in John Quincy Adams dormitory, and nationalist/racist graffiti painted across Franklin Dining Commons.
Graduate student Quinnehtukqut McLamore said he came to the rally because “it’s important that this campus be a safe place for them to live and work.” He said unless the administration “takes more concrete steps to protect students from hate speech and racism … it won’t be a safe place for anyone.”
He and other GEO members were critical of the “Hate Has No Home” and “Dignity and Respect” campaigns UMass initiated in the last two years, which they said don’t do anything to address the problem. McLamore called them nothing more than campaign slogans.
In response, UMass spokesman Ed Blaguszewski said the university “act[s] promptly” to investigate and address acts of hate, and “provides support” for anyone targeted by such acts. He added more is being done to take on incidents which, he said, “have become all too commonplace nationwide.”
IMAGE: PhotographeeDOTeu / Shutterstock.com