Student Protesters Occupy Occidental's Admin Building

Another diversity-related protest is making headlines
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 18, 2015 1:28 PM CST
Student Protesters Occupy Occidental's Admin Building
Occidental College professor Kristi Upson-Saia is seen at Occidental College campus in Los Angeles Monday, April 28, 2008.   (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes)

The latest higher education campus to see protests over racial issues: California's Occidental College, where whites make up 50.6% of the student body and minority students say the campus climate is inhospitable. Students have been protesting over diversity issues, with a list of demands including more programming and resources for "black and other marginalized students," a "fully funded and staffed Black Studies program," and more tenured faculty of color. As of Monday, students were occupying the college's administrative building, insisting that if those demands are not met, President Jonathan Veitch resign, the Los Angeles Times reports. Students are upset at how the administration has handled race-related complaints, and they say that during a demonstration last week that included a march to Veitch's home, Veitch left when students started talking about how administrators have handled sexual assault allegations.

An associate VP at the school says Veitch simply "realized his presence there was no longer being constructive." As for this week's occupation, "We're not going to shut anything down," he says. "They've been conscientious and respectful. They'll be able to stay 24 hours a day." School officials are reviewing the students' demands, he adds, and a chief diversity position in the administration is already planned. But, per USA Today, during last week's protest, Veitch told students, "We simply can’t meet every demand on that list. But I can tell you that I will honor the conversation. I do not cling to this job. I’m happy to resign." One protester tells LA Weekly that if demands are not met by Friday, "we'll occupy until his [Veitch's] resignation." She says as many as 400 students are taking part, eating delivery pizza and sleeping in sleeping bags. "We're occupying all the hallways. The staff is just walking over students." Similar protests have led to officials stepping down at Mizzou and Claremont McKenna, and protests are also happening at Ithaca, Yale, and other schools. (More Occidental College stories.)

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