Daily Egyptian

Hundreds turn out for May 2 protest

Demonstrators raise their hands while chanting "Hands up, don't shoot" as they march across campus May 2 during a protest organized in part by the May 2 Strike Committee. During the protest, demonstrators yelled, "We have a duty to fight for our freedom, we have a duty to win." The protest, which consisted of more than 100 participants, was in response to such issues as the Illinois budget impasse, student loan debt and racism at SIU. — May 2, 2016, Carbondale, Ill. (Jacob Wiegand | @jawiegandphoto)

By Daily Egyptian campus desk

At least 200 students and community members congregated on campus Monday during protests against issues including racism, sexism, student debt, the state’s historic budget impasse and administrators’ salaries. 

“Chop from the top,” protesters chanted inside the Student Center and Anthony Hall, where many of the university’s administrative offices are housed. Demonstrators, some of whom wore masks and bandannas to conceal their identities, continued to shout “No justice, no peace,” “Hands up, don’t shoot!” and “Fuck Donald Trump” as they marched from building to building.  

Dozens of students and community members marched through campus on a course that led into Thompson Point, Morris Library, Trueblood Hall and other campus buildings in an attempt to corral passersby to join their cause.

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PHOTOS: Best images of the protests

The demonstration eventually settled in the area between the Student Services and Faner Hall where participants and organizers voiced their concerns, most of which involved racial diversity and the salaries of SIU administrators.

“You can no longer put a Band-Aid on a bullet wound,” Donald Chamberlain III said to listeners through a megaphone from atop a fountain across the Student Center, wearing a T-shirt that read “#NoRacism.”

Chamberlain, a master’s student in social work from Carbondale, criticized the administration’s handling of incidents involving SIU student Leilani Bartlett and a racist YouTube video that called for the lynching of black students. He said campus-wide emails to students from the chancellor are not enough.

The discussion of racism on the SIUC campus entered the national conversation after Bartlett, a freshman from Chicago studying business, released a Facebook live video detailing an alleged encounter with members of the Alpha Tau Omega fraternity using racist speech in Brown Hall, where she lives.  

The university responded to the video and subsequent demonstrations by informing students of the ongoing investigation of the incidents and organizing on-campus “listening sessions” to promote inclusivity and diversity.

Last week, an anonymously posted video titled “SIUC White is Right” told white SIUC students to “bring your bats and leave your wallets” to class Monday and a computer-generated voice attributed the message to campus ATO members. 

Nolan McConnell, the president of SIU’s ATO chapter, denied any affiliation with the video and said racism is not tolerated or promoted by any members of his organization.

MORE: SIU releases video in response to recent racism on campus

Johnathan Flowers, a doctoral candidate in philosophy from Oak Park, said the university administration allows discrimination of marginalized student groups and has failed to adequately educate students on diversity.

“That is the reason we are accepted, but not welcomed,” Flowers said. 

When asked to comment on the demonstration, interim Chancellor Brad Colwell declined and said the day was about listening to what students had to say.  

“The students are doing what we want them to do, which is express themselves,” SIU spokeswoman Rae Goldsmith said. “We are having very serious discussions about steps we can take as a campus to address the very real concerns that students are raising.”

Police officers from the Illinois State Police and Carbondale Police Department were present on campus to aid SIU police, which also had an increased presence Monday. Goldsmith said the university requested a heightened police presence as a precautionary measure to ensure the safety of students. 

“We anticipated calm, but needed to be prepared,” she said.

The protests were conducted peacefully and no one was arrested or issued a citation, SIU Police Chief Ben Newman said. 

Faculty members of the university’s College of Liberal Arts were sent an email last week outlining a plan to address the May 2 strike date, which was obtained by the Daily Egyptian. 

OPINION: What May 2 means for campus

Classes were expected to remain in session and instructors were told they would need to submit an absence request form to cancel them.  

Shanese Broadnax, a freshman from Bolingbrook studying sociology, said she skipped three of her classes to join the protests.

“I just felt like as an African-American woman, as a student, I want to make sure I stay involved with what is going on at my school,” she said.

Luke Nozicka, Anna Spoerre, Bill Lukitsch and Rebekah Sanders contributed to this report. 

The Daily Egyptian’s campus desk can be reached at 618-536-3325 or [email protected].

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