Students at Brown University occupied the president’s office Thursday afternoon to protest a proposed $100 million diversity action plan, arguing it doesn’t go far enough.
Two weeks ago, in response nationwide Black Lives Matter protests, Brown president Christina Paxson announced a $100 million plan intended to create a “just and inclusive campus.” The plan included doubling the number of faculty from underrepresented groups, providing more aid to low-income students, and crafting special student workshops for “structural racism.” Officially, the plan hasn’t been adopted, and was instead in an open feedback period lasting through Dec. 4, with a final draft expected by the end of the semester.
But now, protesters from a group calling itself Brown Together have rebelled, claiming the plan is too tame, that they’re fed up with the university’s failure to capitulate entirely. Brown Together launched what they called a “Day of Reclamation” Thursday, moving en masse to hijack Paxson’s office to read a statement denouncing the administration’s actions thus far.
“The Diversity Action and Inclusion Plan is illegitimate and insufficient,” they asserted. “As a result of the arbitrary deadline of the feedback forum for the diversity action and inclusion plan closing on December 4, 2015, the administration has not acknowledged our countless and persistent demands to this institution.”
The students then declared that, rather than wait for the university to act, they would be crafting new demands on their own with the expectation the school would adopt them in their entirety.
“We are tired of open dialogues and forums, and we will not be tokenized and exploited in these conversations any further,” they said.
They also implied the school should be paying them for their efforts, complaining they were being compelled to serve as “unpaid diversity consultants.”
The occupation of Paxson’s office resulted in a confrontation with Paxson herself. Several videos of the encounter show protesters clashing with Paxson on several issues. In one clip, students grow angry when Paxson says she must leave to attend another obligation.
— bluestockings mag (@BluestockingsM) December 3, 2015
“We also have obligations, like being in class,” one student argued. “But we can’t focus on those things when we have to focus on staying alive on campus.”
Despite the student’s rhetoric, Brown students hardly live in fear of their lives, and no students have been murdered on-campus in recent history.
In another clip, Paxson causes consternation by saying she believes Brown police officers should be armed.
— Emily Blatt (@EmilyBlatt1) December 3, 2015
Eventually, the meeting with Paxson appears to have ended, and students settled down in University Hall to being drafting the new demands they expect the school to adopt. Those demands haven’t been revealed, though Twitter chatter gives some hints about what is being considered. For example, students are apparently considering a demand that Brown boycott Israeli colleges and other “pro-apartheid” institutions:
"Establish a campaign of academic boycott against pro-Zionist and pro-apartheid academic institutions. " #BrownTogether
— SAPIC (@AgainstThePIC) December 3, 2015
In addition to working on demands, students appear to have followed a policy of “disrupting white spaces” by “enjoying one another’s company,” though what exactly that means is unclear:
— Chrysanthemum Tran (@chrystran) December 3, 2015
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