Students at Ithaca College stage walkout to urge President Tom Rochon to step down

November 11, 2015 by Rachel Cera

A "solidarity walkout" organized earlier this week by a group calling itself "People of Color at Ithaca College," or POC at IC, drew hundreds of IC students out of their classes on Wednesday afternoon, as well as dozens of supporters from Cornell.

Students staging a "die-in" by sitting on walkways on the Ithaca College campus.Students staging a "die-in" by sitting on walkways on the Ithaca College campus.IC's Academic Quad was packed with students, with campus publication The Ithacan estimating the crowd growing from about 400 at first to around 1,000 protesters and bystanders. Students took turns speaking, held a period of silence in solidarity with other campuses, chanted, and have largely dispersed to return to classes "and cause a disruption by informing other people about the situation," according to The Ithacan.

Students and faculty are increasingly calling for IC's President, Tom Rochon, to resign, saying he has failed to address the college's "problems of institutionalized racism, sexism, and classism," according to an open letter distributed during the recent family weekend.

On Tuesday, Rochon announced his office would create a new Chief Diversity Officer position. "It has become clear to me that, although we have taken some steps in the right direction, I will need the counsel and full-time focus of a strong and experienced leader with deep knowledge in this area in order to make progress with appropriate speed, inclusivity, accountability, and transparency," the President said in a statement. "I have asked Roger 'Doc' Richardson, associate provost for diversity, inclusion, and engagement, to serve in this role on an interim basis."

President Tim Wolfe of the University of Missouri system and Chancellor R. Bowen Loftin of Missouri's Columbia campus both resigned Monday in the wake of racial tensions at the Columbia campus. A graduate student, Jonathan Butler, ended a hunger strike after several days upon Wolfe's resignation.

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