Ithaca College YAL: Mass Protests? Let’s Build a Wall

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IC Young Americans for Liberty believes we can take a stand against racism on campus without compromising our First Amendment rights. As racially-charged protests rocked Ithaca College on Wednesday, November 11, IC Young Americans for Liberty, along with the Leadership Institute, affirmed this student right by building a Free Speech Wall.

This demonstration was catalyzed from two instances of racial “micro-aggressions” that occurred in October. From these instances emerged a student activist group operating under the name  #POCatIC (People of Color at Ithaca College). The group’s mantra is “No More Dialogue, We Want Action,” in regards to racism at the College; the sentiment is that students of color have “tried to educate” others for too long, and the initial action which they call for is President Rochon’s removal from the institution so that “healing can begin.” The group has led several demonstrations disrupting Admissions Open Houses, Administration Forums that presented anti-racism action plans, and this past Wednesday, led a “die-in” to call for the President’s resignation.

While IC YAL recognizes that Rochon’s leadership has been ineffective—the President has attempted to and succeeded censoring student publications in the past—we also recognizes the threats to free speech that could emerge from this movement. Students associated with the #POCatIC movement have called for “microaggression reporting systems” to be instituted at the school; for accountability and repercussions for those who fail to foster inclusive environments at the college; the very slogan of “No More Dialogue” is evident of the potential threats to free speech that Ithaca College could face.

Outreach to students proves that a silent majority of Ithacans oppose limiting free speech in this manner. However, when these concerns are expressed, they are typically met with Alinsky-esque allegations of racism and the desire to uphold white supremacy. If this campus is to change for the better, we must choose proactivity over reactivity. Amidst these polarized times, IC YAL seeks empower proactive solutions to on-campus racism without compromising our First Amendment rights.

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