Students protest lack of diversity on campus


Students, faculty and community members march around the lower quad in response to the administration and its policy on diversity and inclusivity on campus. The protest was sparked by the controversial chalking written on the lower quad in mid-September. Photo by Marlen Gomez

In the midst of the Homecoming festivities, students, faculty and community members gathered together for a march and rally in Augustana’s lower quad, in response to the college’s handling of diversity and inclusivity by the students of color and other marginalized students.
The crowd of more than twenty people were all holding signs that read different sayings, from ‘#HoldAugieAccountable’ to ‘Hate Speech Doesn’t Equal Free Speech’, and chanted words that demanded for inclusivity and safety for the students on campus.
The protest was hosted by the college’s group Latinx Unidos, with their purpose to address the administration on upholding institutional racism and the college’s use of ‘diversity’ as a marketing strategy to draw in students of color onto campus.
After the march, speeches were made by multiple people at Lincoln Park in Rock island, where they addressed the the incident that inspired the protest with the chalkings written all over campus back in mid-September. The chalkings said phrases such as ‘Build a Wall’, ‘Feminism is Cancer’, among other statements. The debate of freedom of speech followed afterwards as administration established a ‘free expression zone’ for chalking on the quad.
One of the organizers of the event and vice president of Latinx Unidos, Lizandra Gomez-Ramirez, said in her speech that the protest was geared towards the administration and not the individuals that did the chalking. Gomez-Ramirez wanted administration to tackle the issues underlying the speech from the chalkings.
“Yes, these are just words, but words have so much power, and I’m afraid that this could escalate at our college,” said Gomez-Ramirez.
The immediate demand from the protestors is to have a hate speech policy. President Steven Bahls, along with Dean of Students Evelyn Campbell and Provost Pareena Lawrence will be discussing the demands and talking about the issues happening on campus during their weekly ‘Before it Happens’ meeting on Tuesday.