WSU protesters decry ‘white privilege,’ black student mistreatment

More than 60 student activists at Wright State University marched through campus and squeezed into administrative offices demanding that President David Hopkins meet with them to discuss rights for African American students.

The protesters said they gathered to support their peers at the University of Missouri and to raise awareness for “institutionalized racism” at Wright State.

For nearly three hours the students marched from building to building on campus to decry “white privilege” and the “culture of mistreatment” toward black students.

While marching, protesters chanted “ain’t no power like the power of the people, cause the power of the people don’t stop.”

On Monday the president at Missouri resigned hours after the football team announced it would boycott Saturday’s game — a move which would have cost the university around $1 million — unless changes were made on campus.

After the president stepped down, Missouri students called for national demonstrations — something students at both Wright State and Antioch College participated in Thursday.

About 100 Antioch College faculty and students gathered to point out that racism exists on their campus and to support the students at Missouri.

Meanwhile, the protesters at Wright State said they want administration to address a set of demands that include increasing the number of black students and faculty and requiring black curriculum.

Hopkins agreed to meet with the students next Thursday.

“I feel like he (Hopkins) is doing what he can. It’s more to do with him overseeing the way his staff are dealing and operating with the issues,” said Tristina Allen, 21, an international studies major at Wright State.

Allen, from Toledo, said the staff has invited students to meetings, however, “those meeting really aren’t accomplishing anything.”

According to data from the U.S. Department of Education, about 12 percent of Wright State students are black — a figure that is higher than most universities in the state.

Tommy DiMassimo, a fourth-year acting major at Wright State, said he would like to see more resources for black student groups on campus.

“If you got the money to pay people on paid leave, then you can pay for some of these problems on campus,” DiMassimo said, referring to an ongoing federal probe at WSU of possible work visa violations that cost several top administrators their jobs.

The 22-year-old also said Wright State should require reading that examines the current elements of racism in U.S. culture.

In addition, DiMassimo, who is white, says the university needs to improve retention of black students.

At one point Thursday, the Wright State protesters interrupted students studying in the library.

“I’m trying to better myself through my work, and I’m not interrupting other people to do so,” a student told the protesters.

The student said he comes from a poor background and doesn’t see himself as having “white privilege.”

One protester said that “a poor white person is still above a black person with money.”

Thursday wasn’t the first time Wright State has been in the spotlight for dealing with race relations. In February, Hopkins issued an apology for a Black History Month menu, created by an outside dining services company, that included chicken, mashed potatoes, collard greens and cornbread.

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