Protests seek campus diversity nationwide

by Benjamin Farniok

Around 70 student groups at schools across the U.S. and Canada are demanding more diverse college campuses. 
 
Many, including an activist group at the University of Minnesota, are seeking more faculty members of varying backgrounds as well as a commitment to bringing more students of color, various gender identities and sexualities to their schools.
 
Douglas Hartmann, a University sociology professor who studies inequality, said many protests sprung up nationally in recent weeks because of frustration with society as a whole.
 
The concerns of the groups vary from school to school, Hartmann said, like racism at University of Missouri versus in Minnesota where the focus is on having adequate representation among faculty.
 
Hartmann said this fall has represented a new era of diversity protests, citing the protests in Missouri that triggered the school president’s resignation. 
 
“College and university presidents are feeling it more than anyone,” he said “They can’t just sit by and expect the status quo to be accepted.”
 
The majority of the demands compiled by WeTheProtesters, an activist group inspired by protests in Ferguson, Mo., were published within the last two months.
 
Hartmann said the largest success of the movements may not be in the meeting of specific demand but the increased public attention on issues of race and diversity.
 
At the University of Minnesota, the informal student group Whose Diversity? presented its demands to administrators in April 2014. David Melendez, a member of the group and second-year graduate student, said the demands were set as a starting point to get the school to pay more attention to diversity issues on campus.
 
“We don’t expect the demands to make everything okay. These aren’t fixes,” he said. “These are just directions that we need to go in.”
 
In addition to demands for diversity, some groups nationwide also want stronger punishments for hate speech, demilitarization of police and security groups and reduced
tuition.
 

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