Silent Protest at Manhattanville College

MICHAEL BRABAZON & JESSICA COWLE

On Thursday, Sept. 30th 2016, a group of 41 students and faculty conducted a silent protest at the Manhattanville College Board of Trustees meeting. Students organized this protest to express their concerns about equal opportunities on campus.

Seniors Rai-Ya Wilson and Lanisha Porter, organized the protest on Sept. 29th at the Black Student Union meeting. They rallied students to attend through text, e-mail, and word of mouth. At the meeting, students planned to wear all black to class the next day. They also made signs to carry during the protest, voicing predominantly national issues that reflected concerns of minority groups.

At 3:00 P.M., on Sept. 30th, the students gathered at Reid Castle outside of the Board of Trustees meeting with their signs. At the conclusion of the meeting, students were invited in to express their concerns. Wilson read the group’s concerns to the board. The main concerns were primarily the increase in faculty diversity, and an active effort by the school to increase racial equality on campus.

At the time of the release, statistics regarding minority faculty members are unavailable.

This is not the first protest in Manhattanville history regarding these issues. The Manhattanville website cites a protest that occurred in 1969.
“Eighteen African American students occupied Brownson Hall for six days. Protesting a lack of inclusion and support for African American students, the group offered a list of demands that included an increase in the number of African American faculty members, and course offerings focused upon African American history, art, and culture.” Manhattanville College Timeline, Manhattanville College Website, Online: (10/6/2016).

The protest ended when previous President, Elizabeth McCormack, vowed to take a closer look at the issues that were addressed in the protest. The student protestors were also offered immunity and would not face any consequences.

The students who conducted the most recent protest seek a similar reaction from the administration.

Wilson, who read the list of concerns to the Board, expressed the need for a center where students can seek help regarding equality and social justice. Furthermore, a diverse faculty should be available for students to have a safe place to address these concerns.

“The culture of this school needs to change, and I think that starts with this center and creating an environment that welcomes everyone.” said Wilson.

President Michael Geisler and Dr. Ramona Brown, V.P. of Student Affairs, addressed the event in separate emails to the student body on Wednesday, October 3rd. Both President Geisler and Dr. Brown assured students that their voices are being heard and efforts are being made to address these concerns.

“We will work even harder so that each student at Manhattanville will remember their alma mater as one that provided understanding, acceptance, and support for all students on this campus” said President Geisler in his email to all staff and students.

The school will work hard in the coming months to address these specific student concerns.