As parents filed into the Union Ballroom Saturday morning to listen to an address from President McCoy, approximately 40 students of color joined them. These students, collectively dressed in black, silently held up signs calling for DePauw’s administration to make the campus safer for students of color.
After McCoy and members of the administration were done speaking, the floor was opened for questions. Student Paris Murray was the first to speak. “From the beginning, our intention is to have a peaceful protest. But our intention is also to be heard,” said Murray.
The students went around and read letters describing the experiences and feelings of students of color that feel unsafe on campus. Murray read the first letter, which was addressed to “Mom and Dad”.
“I didn’t tell you I’d been assaulted, spat at, and nearly ran over,” Murray read. “My life and happiness is not worth the money I pay. DePauw, what will you tell my mom? What should she do? What should I do? Because I am tired.”
The night before the protest, students assembled in the Student Organization space to work on their letters as well as posters for the event. Students of all grade levels were there participating, working, and planning with one goal in mind. “To be the voice of those who are afraid to speak up, so that they know there are people here who are willing to fight for them,” said first year, Serena Rodriguez.
Murray saw other methods of protest being ineffective so she planned the protest during President Mark McCoy’s address. “It’s time to try a different approach and that’s what this is,” said Murray. “If there is something that we were missing before, which I don’t think we were, maybe this time it will click and will make them act.”
The group of protesters hoped that McCoy will begin to implement change throughout the University. “I just hope that [McCoy] really understands the message, and that just sending an email to us that says ‘hey I’m doing this and doing that’ isn’t enough and we want to see that action,” said senior, Avience Brown.
The discussion expanded to include comments from many of the students as well questions from parents. References were made to the hate speech targeted at a first-year student earlier this year, and the students expressed disappointment in the Administration’s lack of action following the event.
“I have a few questions: when will DePauw start to care?” sophomore Latoya Logan asked. “Will it take another black body to be pinned to the ground by police officers for DePauw to care?,” said Logan. “Will it be then when DePauw will have an uprising, and will it be then that DePauw will see that we matter? Obviously we are here in solidarity because this is something pressing. We do not feel safe.”