Hundreds of Colgate University students rallied together to hold a demonstration in response to racist comments on the social media app Yik-Yak.
A place where users can post anonymous messages viewable by others nearby, Yik-Yak allows its members to freely post their thoughts, except for criminal threats, without judgment. Growing in popularity amongst college students, the app has caused quite an uproar at several universities across the nation—most notably Colgate University.
After posts reading, “I don’t want black kids at this school,” “It’s not my fault the most noteworthy thing [your] people have done is to convince us to not enslave you anymore…And you couldn’t even do that without our help” and “Ni**ers be complaining” began surfacing on the app, students of varying ethnic backgrounds decided to fight back against the blatant racism.
Nearly 300 students gathered inside the university’s admissions building and held a sit-in for three days straight as a symbol of unity and cohesion. Colgate University’s Association of Critical Collegians led the demonstration, creating the hashtag #CanYouHearUsNow and #ThisIsColgate, for supporters to use.
The student-run organization also created an action plan for administrators to use in order to make the university “more inclusive.” Among the action items, the organization asks: “that admissions staff, ambassadors and tour guides be engaged in sustained diversity training, that all admissions tour address issues of diversity more fully in order to articulate our complex history and our hopes for the future and that our financial aid system be held accountable for providing full work study opportunities to all students who are guaranteed them in their financial aid packages…”
The organization vowed to continue the sit-in until school officials met the action items outlined in their plan. In the meantime, pictures surfaced on social media, showing hundreds of students holding signs and in protest of the university’s current treatment of minority students and its lack of diversity (according to Inside Higher Ed, White students currently make up 70 percent of Colgate’s student population).
The Huffington Post reports that Colgate president, Jeffrey Herbst responded to the university’s ACC saying in a statement, “We believe our response will be the basis for further discussion. Bias incidents and racism, while not unique to Colgate, are unacceptable and will not be tolerated.” He continued, “They have no place on a college campus, and they have no place at Colgate. We have heard you, and we will join you in the common goal of creating a campus environment that is welcoming and supportive of all of our students.”
This, apparently isn’t the first time Colgate students have banned together in support of minority inclusion on their campus. Inside Higher Ed reports that the university made national headlines in 2001 when 70 students gathered in the school’s admissions building demanding change in the amount of diversity amongst Colgate students.
One Colgate graduate, Lisa Cowan, took to her Facebook page in support of both protests,”I was one of the 70 in 2001 and I sit with the 350 today.”
Photo: Inside Higher Ed