College of Wooster students end sit-in; will continue discussing concerns with officials

January 25, 2018 GMT

College of Wooster students end sit-in; will continue discussing concerns with officials

WOOSTER, Ohio - More than 250 College of Wooster students ended a sit-in Wednesday night following hours of what the college called “intense and constructive dialogue” with President Sarah Bolton and other administrators.

Students left the administration building around 10 p.m., 10 hours after walking out of class and gathering to express concerns over a range of issues related to diversity and equity.

Hundreds of College of Wooster students, concerned over numerous issues, stage sit-in

“We have had extremely productive conversations with the students about the concerns they raised and we have committed to address them,” Bolton said in a statement Wednesday night. “We began developing the plans to do so today, and will share them with the community over the coming days, as they become more fully developed. Those plans will include more comprehensive educational efforts in the areas of cultural competency and sexual misconduct; more effective and easily accessible reporting and response mechanisms for all types of bias-related harm; and new resources for student groups engaged in work related to diversity, equity, and inclusion.

“Let me say again how deeply I appreciate our students’ engagement with this work, and that of my colleagues across the administration. Everyone worked incredibly hard today to make this such a productive dialogue. It is so important that this college be a truly inclusive place, where a diverse community of students, faculty, and staff can live, work and thrive. I look forward to sharing more with you in the coming days about the plans we are making to move forward to become a stronger and more just community.”

Student leaders secured promises to have numerous demands met, including a $20,000 budget allocation to the Center for Diversity and Inclusion, mandatory cultural competency training for students, staff, and faculty, and program houses for multicultural student groups and one for victims/survivors of sexual assault and misconduct, according to the college newspaper, The Wooster Voice. The college will also investigate allegations of racial discrimination against several members of its administrative staff, the newspaper said.

The origins of the sit-in began Jan. 13 when students learned of racist memes posted in a private Facebook group by a senior, who is a member of the Wooster Right Wingers, the only conservative political club on campus. Students said he also indicated he liked alt-right YouTube videos.

On Jan. 14 more than 300 students, staff, and faculty came to the student center “to talk about the profound harm these postings caused, a harm magnified by the daily racism and discrimination experienced by people of color,” Bolton said in a Jan. 18 email to campus.

“We understand the community’s frustration, deep concern, and desire for a resolution. We are committed to the safety of all members of the community, to conducting a thorough and fair process that respects the rights and confidentiality of all involved, and to completing it as promptly as possible,” she wrote.

The college began an investigation of the student when it learned of the allegations.

“The student has been removed from campus while the student conduct process is ongoing,” spokesman John Hopkins said Wednesday.