By Katherine Coble || News Editor
Student protests show no sign of stopping after several student-athletes posted images to social media wearing racially offensive Halloween costumes two weeks ago. The incident has served as a catalyst for protest among the student body, raising bigger concerns about a culture of racism at F&M and a lack of resources allocated to multicultural organizations on campus.
Since breaking, the story has been picked up by several media sources including Inside Higher Ed, the York Daily Record, Pennlive.com, NextShark, LNP, ABC 27 News, and WGAL Lancaster. It has also received attention from student newspapers at nearby Millersville University and Dickinson College.
Student protests kicked off with a professors-organized rally held on Friday, November 8, in which both students and faculty expressed their dissatisfaction with F&M’s response to the incident thus far and demanded institution-wide change. This was followed by a statement against racism, signed by more than 200 F&M faculty and professional staff members. Later that Friday, students sat in on the first men’s basketball game of the season – a direct protest against the two men’s basketball players involved in the incident. Hundreds of F&M students and several faculty members quietly walked to the court following the National Anthem.
After roughly ten minutes, the game was canceled, much to the anger and frustration of parents from both F&M and York College. Records of the game no longer exist on either York or F&M’s men basketball schedules, and it is unclear whether the game will be made up at a later date. Student leaders have indicated their intention to protest every men’s basketball game of the season until some sort of punishment against the student-athletes is involved. The next day, students protested an Admissions Open House. They also protested at the men’s soccer game on Tylus Field – a Centennial Conference championship game against Johns Hopkins, which was ultimately played and lost by the Diplomates 3-2.
On Tuesday, November 5, “Uncommon Hour” was dedicated to a student forum to discuss action steps taken by the administration. The forum was, again, attended by hundreds of F&M students and many faculty members. Students appeared to leave the forum frustrated, feeling that too few specifics were laid out.
The following day President Barbara Altmann send out an email entitled “Response to the community”, which included an attached document detailing extensive changes including the implementation of a bias reporting system, racial awareness training, and increased transparency across the board about issues related to diversity and race. .
At a Diplomatic Congress meeting on Thursday, November 7, Vice President and Dean of Student Affairs Margaret Hazlett fielded questions from students about the document attached in the “Response to the community” and about school policies more broadly. Students expressed frustration with the Office of Multicultural Affairs (OMCA) staffing and resources in particular, deeming its current operations ineffective. Rachel St. Louis ‘21 denounced the meager budget allocated to OMCA and the Alice Drum Women’s Center as “egregious” and offensive, to which Dean Hazlett agreed. A proposal to make the Black Student Union, Mi Gente Latina, the Asian-American Alliance, and the Afro-Caribean Society voting agencies of the Diplomatic Congress was proposed but ultimately did not face a vote.
More than two weeks after the racist incident that first sparked outrage, students show no sign of stopping or reducing their protests and calls for change. It is clear that this time around, words will not be enough.
Senior Katherine Coble is the news editor. Her email is firstname.lastname@example.org.