NORMAL, Ill. — Students are protesting at Illinois State University after the school’s Black Homecoming Committee (BHC) went public with multiple roadblocks it faced while trying to organize events for Homecoming week.
The BHC took to Twitter saying they “had Redbird Arena solidified for a concert” for Oct. 25, and it was canceled on Oct. 1 “because of a last-minute volleyball practice.”
While the obstacles they faced kickstarted the movement, the group and students across campus made it clear they believe minority students are treated unfairly while the university actively promotes diversity.
The movement prompted students to share stories of discrimination with the #AntiBlackISU hashtag on Twitter. One Twitter user wrote their roommate wrote a racial slur on his door his sophomore year at Watterson Towers.
Protestors took to the Quad on Monday, claiming the university promotes “fake diversity,” and are planning on protesting Wednesday as well.
Additionally, black student leaders sent ISU leaders, including President Larry Dietz, a list of seven demands in a form letter with the subject “Black ISU Demands.”
“As marginalized students, our experience has proven that diversity and inclusion is not upheld by Illinois State University. In response to this, we attempt to create the experience our institution fails to do, however we receive major pushback. This is unacceptable, considering other majority groups do not experience these same barriers. As the authentic manifestation of the student voice we will not accept this unfair treatment. We demand to be valued with equity. This is only a small portion of the grievances that minoritized students at ISU have experienced.”ISU students
The demands include an organization that is “culturally centered to minorities on campus,” an unbiased task force to assess minority groups’ concerns, to hold university officials accountable for discrimination, and for marginalized groups “to be valued and treated in the same way other majority groups are.”
ISU actively promotes its “diverse campus” that reflects “the nation’s changing demographics.”
Tuesday afternoon, Dietz sent a message to the ISU community, saying he is taking students’ concerns seriously.
In the coming days, I will be inviting representatives from concerned student, faculty and staff groups to meet with the Campus Climate Task Force and me. We promise to listen to ideas and determine how we can move forward in making Illinois State University a better place for everyone.
I formed the task force two years ago, and already, their recommendations have made many improvements in our campus environment.President Dietz
Dietz also defended ISU Athletics and the Redbird volleyball team.
At the same time, I also believe you deserve accurate information about a Homecoming event that has received considerable attention. While an event was discussed, it was never contracted or scheduled with the Department of Athletics or any other area of the University. During discussions about a potential event, security concerns were raised, but these are security protocols that apply to the entire University—not just certain groups or individuals.
In addition, information regarding scheduling conflicts with ISU’s Volleyball program are equally inaccurate. Neither the Redbird Volleyball coach or any assistants or staff members had any involvement in any potential event discussions.
Complicating the issue was that the University first learned about the desired event less than two months before our annual Homecoming celebration. Most Homecoming events are planned up to a year in advance.President Dietz
Anyone who has ever heard me speak knows I say that the largest room in the world is the room for improvement.
He did, however, end his letter saying “I know we can improve, and with your help we will improve.”
ISU’s School of Communications also spoke out, showing support for the BHC and black students in general.
This story will be updated.