Students and faculty at the University of Vermont call for change this week with protests against the university’s lack of support for students and people of color.
John Meija, Assistant Director of Student Relations at UVM, is on a self-proclaimed hunger strike until the university meets his list of demands. His demands extend from the university to the city of Burlington, and include the university’s public endorsement of the Black Lives Matter movement and complete adoption of the list of student demands from the #nonamesforjustice group on campus.
The hunger strike comes as a response to increasingly anti-black racial acts happening on campus and in the city.
“There are escalating acts of anti-black racism on this campus and in this city, and louder, more visible, and unabashed white supremacy,” Meija said. “There was no proportional reaction from either entity and so that’s why I thought this needed to happen and why I am putting my life on the line to move this conversation forward.”
Students and student social justice group, The NoNames for Justice, held rallies this week to bring continued awareness to the increasing racial tension at UVM. NoNames for Justice calls for the resignation of UVM president, Thomas Sullivan and casts criticism on Provost David Rosowsky and Vice Provost Annie Stevens due to their insensitivity towards students of color on campus.
“I want a response. I want action. I want accountability I just want recognition we exist, we are here, and we are angry. So don’t take that away from us — you can’t take that away from us,” Jennifer Gil, a UVM senior, said.
University officials say, in an official statement, they are to openly communicate and remain transparent with the UVM community during these times.
“Working together and communicating with each other on these issues of national importance, in an atmosphere of mutual respect and civility, will allow us to continue making progress as one University. We welcome all who want to join together to be a part of what needs to be a campus, community, and national conversation,” the statement said.
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