University of Utah students gathered outside the main administration building Friday to demand that university leaders take stronger action against racist incidents on campus, KSL.com reported.
The university’s racism response team announced last month that it was investigating two incidents from earlier in the fall. In one case, feces were found on the door to a student’s room; in the second, which occurred in the same dorm, a resident assistant overheard two students talking about people dressed in “white KKK-like attire” who were trying to recruit students in the dorm, according to KSL.com.
Additionally, in September two students allegedly shouted a racial slur at a contract employee making a delivery at a loading dock on campus, then threw sunflower seeds and coffee pods at the worker, KSL.com reported.
Those incidents, among others, prompted the Party for Socialism and Liberation, a student organization on campus, to organize Friday’s protest, which about 40 students attended.
“We are here today to yet again address the complacency and failures of the University of Utah leadership in the face of racist, patriarchal violence,” said student speaker Ermiya Fanaeian. “We have witnessed how empty and useless the responses they currently have in place to such violence are.”
Other speakers urged administrators to meet with student leaders of color, hire and promote more employees of color, and defund the campus police department.
Responding to Friday’s protest, University of Utah officials said in a statement, “We value our students and community members sharing their perspectives and insights … Be certain that we will continue to work as a campus community to make the necessary changes to guarantee our communities of color, and our Black community members in particular, feel safe across campus and especially in their living spaces. We aspire to live by the standards of our Code of Student Rights and Responsibilities, that we all have the right to live free of discrimination, harassment, and prejudicial treatment.”