A group of about 50 supporters and members of Students Against State Violence marched down Indiana Avenue on Wednesday afternoon to take a letter of demands to the provost’s office.
They held banners reading “DECOLONIZE IU” and “SANCTUARY NOW,” shouted “no justice, no peace” and music plays through a wireless speaker as they walked to the door of Bryan Hall.
Some of the students shouted along with the group’s leaders.
Others, many wearing backpacks and carrying yoga mats or bicylces, appeared to have just been tagging along after class.
“I was just on my way out of class in Ballantine,” freshman Terrence Strong said. “It seems like they’re trying to do something interesting.”
The group was followed closely by an IU Police Department car.
“Do not disrupt the workplace,” IUPD Capt. Andy Stephenson told the crowd just before they opened the door to the building.
But disrupting the workplace was what they had come to do.
Several leaders of SASV, including IU senior Jess Mann, read from a scripted letter in the lobby of Provost Lauren Robel’s office. The letter claimed IU has not taken enough concrete action to increase diversity on campus.
Some of the group’s demands included increased hiring of faculty and staff of color, higher enrollment rates of minority populations and Pell Grant recipients, and the addition of a social justice component to IU’s general education requirements. The Bloomington Faculty Council, in April 2016, passed a resolution on diversity which recommended IU attempt to do what SASV was demanding at the protest on Wednesday.
One group leader suggested if funding was an issue, Robel and IU President Michael McRobbie contribute a portion of their own salaries.
“To be clear, our demands represent the very minimum of reform we expect from the University,” Mann said. “Despite their statements otherwise, we have come to expect very little from their promises.”
Though they had been raucous while marching down Indiana Avenue, many of the protesters seemed to lose their nerve once inside. Throughout the reading of the letter, they intermittently supported the leaders of the protest with finger snaps.
An IU Communications staff member handed out a printed copy of an official IU statement in response to the SASV protest.
“The term or designation of ‘sanctuary campus’ is legally vague and offers no actual protection, legal or otherwise,” the statement reads. “It’s important to know that Indiana University remains unwavering and steadfast in its support of all of its students, faculty and staff regardless of personal characteristics, background, country of origin or documentation.”
Two staff members, Jake Seiler-Smith and Deborah Westerfield, in the lobby of the provost’s office ignored the protesters and kept their eyes on their computer screens. When the SASV leaders finished stating their demands, for a moment the only sound was that of Seiler-Smith’s and Westerfield’s typing.
It was unclear whether Robel could even hear the protesters in the lobby from her office.
“Yeah, we can go now,” one of the protesters said.
They walked quietly out of the building.
Editor’s note: This article has been updated with information involving the Bloomington Faculty Council and their resolution on diversity which can be found in BFC mintues from April 5, 2016.