In under an hour, 500 students mobilized on Wednesday to protest the racism and bigotry expressed in a video produced by Theta Tau, an engineering fraternity that has since been expelled from campus. What started as a small GroupMe chat quickly spread, recruiting non-Greek and Greek students in NALFO and IFC to take a stand.
Outside Chancellor Kent Syvurud’s house, sirens from DPS cars flashed in the faces of protestors. Liam McMonagle, a leader in organizing the group, reminded everyone to stay calm and not give DPS a reason to have to intervene. They came carrying posters with slogans like, “Recognize Us,” which has grown as a hashtag for students of color to express frustration with SU administration. Students also held signs with the words “apathy is complicity” citing that doing nothing is just as bad as doing wrong.
Chrismel Minervini, a sophomore from Manhattan, NY, explained that at 5:30, after she and other members finished class, they went to CVS to grab poster-making supplies. The group made the posters in Schine, then moved to the chancellor’s house, all in half an hour
The protest took students from the chancellor’s house to Hendrick’s Chapel for a town hall style discussion forum. Students of all ages, races and ethnicities filled the pews of the chapel, where many students expressed frustration at lack of diversity on campus and called for change.
Saumya Melwani, a junior from Bombay, India, spoke about the difficulty of being the only student of color in many of her classes. “As an international student in classes that are predominantly white, I’ve constantly had to stand up and been like, ‘that’s racist,’ or ‘that’s not right,’” Melwani said. “It’s a burden for students of color to be in classrooms that are constantly against you, because even when you don’t want to say something, sometimes you have to.”
Chancellor Syverud has called for a “top-to-bottom review” of all Greek life, as well as an expansion on the First-Year Forum to include not just campus sexual assault, but issues of inclusion as well.
Eduardo Gomez, a sophomore and president of Lambda Upsilon Lambda, a Latino fraternity on campus, expressed the need for all students to come together after this video. “I feel like there’s also too many people who feel like it doesn’t affect them directly just because they aren’t people of color,” Gomez said. “I want to help try and build a place where we all feel safe and supported by each other. At the end of the day, we’re all here to try and be somebody better than we were before.”
Since the occurrence of this event, multiple high-profile news sources have picked up the story. With buzz-worthy news stories like this, it’s easy for the public to read, react and forget. On the Syracuse campus, it seems like students are ready to take action. It’s time for the community to come together and take a stand.