Students gather to call for change

Students gathered in the George M. Henderson Campus Center room 301/302 on Monday, Sept. 18, to talk about protesting racial bias at Allegheny. The meeting began at 10 p.m, and lasted roughly one hour and 45 minutes.

Silas Garrison, ’20, said the meeting was called to address racial issues on campus.

“The reason why this started was because of racial degradation, and racial inequity, not to mention racial slurs,” Garrison said. “We wanted to air out some of the dirty laundry and clear the table for people to have a voice, which I think we were able to do so.”

At the beginning of the meeting, participants discussed the perceived failings of the college’s Title IX system. While some students wanted greater transparency, others pointed out the ways in which federal privacy laws, in particular the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, limited the amount of information that could be disclosed in Title IX cases.

Title IX is a federal law that prohibits schools that receive federal funding from discriminating against students due to their gender.

Taylor Marzouca, ’21, discussed how the Title IX process grants both the accuser and accused equal protections, which she referred to as a flawed system

“Students have this impression of Title IX being a justice system on campus,” Marzouca said. “In case you thought that — I thought that when I first arrived on campus — it’s not a justice system.”

Baneen Al-Akashi, ’19, brought up the importance of students bringing their issues to the college’s Board of Trustees.

“The board of trustees has a lot of power on campus, but we also have power too,” Al-Akashi said. “I know it sounds weird, but we pay to be here,”

Allegheny Student Government President Camilla Gomez, ’19,  Vice President Gillian Greene, ’20, and Director of Communications and Press David Roach, ’21, were in attendance. Roach said ASG meetings include designated times for students to bring their concerns to the attention of their representatives.

We wanted to air out some of the dirty laundry and clear the table for people to have a voice, which I think we were able to do

— Silas Garrison, Class of 2020, Allegheny College

“We live-stream our general assemblies, and the board of trustees watches it, and we have two opportunities for constituent comments during it, so if you do have something, and you want the board of trustees to hear it, come voice it to us,” Roach said.

While the students had originally planned a full-day protest for Tuesday, Sept. 18, they decided to alter their plans. Garrison said he had a productive meeting with Allegheny President James Mullen about some of his concerns. Due to this, the students changed their protest plans.

Marzouca said she would hold a protest of her own from noon to 1 p.m. outside the campus center every day for an indefinite period of time.

While the meeting was in progress, students received an email from Mullen, stating his intention to gather a group of students to discuss issues of racial bias at Allegheny. As a result of the email, the group decided to work to establish the details of the commission on their terms.

By the end of the meeting, the group had gathered a list of 20 names, of which five to eight were to be formally selected later as representatives of the student body who would meet with Mullen.