Over 300 students at Colgate University staged a sit-in spanning nearly five days last week in response to the mistreatment of minorities at the small, upstate New York college. It ended Friday afternoon when the university administration agreed to support a plan of action crafted by the students themselves.
The demonstration came as a result of a number of anonymous racist comments made on the social media app Yik Yak and in person to students riding the campus shuttle. To get a sense of the comments that were made, the comment “I chose Colgate for the lack of it's [sic] diversity” was on the very mild end of the spectrum.
— Colgateacc (@colgateacc) September 25, 2014
Students occupied Colgate’s admissions building in an effort to have the university take action against its lack of diversity. The Colgate University Association of Critical Collegians, the organization that headed this protest, created a movement and coined the hashtags “#CanYouHearUsNow” and “#SoThisIsColgate” to raise awareness about the bigotry students had to endure. The ACC even published multiple YouTube videos promoting the movement and sharing student testimonials.
According to Inside Higher Ed, members of the ACC drafted a plan for the school to adopt that would ease the current tensions and promote better awareness of student diversity. Points in the plan include required faculty participation in diversity training and hiring more minority faculty.
For a better picture of the diversity (or lack thereof) at Colgate, here’s a clear breakdown. During the 2013-2014 academic year, the school had 2,871 students, which at some schools is smaller than the freshman class alone. Of the student body, 67.8 percent were white. 3.4 percent were Asian (which amounts to 98 students), 4.2 percent were African American and 7.9 percent were Hispanic, according to Colgate University’s website.
One thing remains true in relation to the outcome of this protest: the student voice will be heard. Students from the ACC declared they would continue their sit-in for as long as it would take until the university agreed to carry out their plan of action, and that's exactly what's happened with the administration's release of a statement of support.