By Daniela Rodriguez
Student marching next to the Humanities building (Photo by Daniela Rodriguez)
Students organized and marched around campus to bring attention to student safety issues which, according to protesters, are common and often overlooked by those in charge of campus security, such as the Title IX Office and UPD. Protesters aimed to advocate for student safety, demand justice for survivors, and protest against rape culture, sexual assault, racial discrimination, and accessibility issues.
The demonstration, held on April 14, was supported by members of the PSGA and organized by a group of students who, after allegedly being ignored by the administration, decided to make their voices heard. Students initially gathered outside of the PAC and later marched through different areas of high traffic on campus, including the Stood and the Student Services building.
Chants like “Students want justice” and “Students want safety” loudly echoed through the campus, even reaching the inside of the PAC– where prospective students and their parents were gathered for Accepted Student Day activities.
“We [PSGA] had been trying to hold meetings with administration for most of the semester but, after the first one, they kept making excuses,” said Mei’lani Welson, a junior photography major and the current Chair of Senate. “So we decided to organize this protest to get their attention and to warn parents of prospective students about the lack of security before they decide to send their kids here.”
Purchase administration did not return this reporter's inquiry to comment.
During the protest, students were given a platform to voice their concerns, tell their stories, and call for change. Most of the students in attendance proclaimed that they felt unsafe walking around campus and
that they believe the administration doesn’t care enough to take any action to change that.
Students protesting in front of the Stood (Photo by Daniela Rodriguez)
“Students care more about students than administration does,” said one of the protesters. “For them, we’re just numbers in the system. We’re just money to be made.”
Students loudly shouted their demands, asking for increased funding and support for Title IX, the Office of Disability, the Counseling Center, and other places on campus that are vital to the preservation of student safety and comfort.
“They [administration] keep putting money where they shouldn’t,” said Sammie Terpening, a freshman creative writing major and co-president of the Autism Acceptance Association. “They should make areas of support accessible and funded to make it easier for them to do their job.”
Students demanded an improvement in the Title IX investigation process– claiming that it is very slow and inefficient, often allowing abusers to graduate before they are held accountable for their actions. Protesters also claimed that the Office of Disability has repeatedly failed to provide disabled students with the accommodations they deserve.
Though many resonated with the issues brought up, the demonstration received mixed reactions among students. Some took to social media to express their discontent with the protest, claiming that some of the protesters were cursing prospective students and
harassing student tour guides.
“To be completely honest, I was a bit frustrated,” said Laila Polito, a sophomore psychology and BSVA student. “There were a few people who were acting inappropriately and being rude, which frustrated a lot of us [protesters] who were there for the right reasons.”
“I think we were heard,” said Welson. “A lot of high energy was happening, and some things definitely went wrong, but I still think we were able to make our voices heard.”