Students hold unity walkout, rally over ‘culture of fear’ at SIUE

EDWARDSVILLE, IL (KPLR) – SIUE students, faculty and others joined together in a march across campus Tuesday morning to protest what they call hate and bigotry on campus along with a culture of fear.

The protest began at the Vadalabene Center at 10:30 a.m., with demonstrators marching a quarter-mile to Rendleman Hall in the campus’ main quad.

Some 250 to 300 people participated in the march, with many of the organizers dressed in black. The group was protesting allegations of hate toward minority students on campus since the presidential election a week ago.

The protest group said that on election night, students of color had notes placed on their doors, telling them to “go back to Africa,” “go back to Mexico,” and to “build that wall.” The group also alleges that a female Muslim student had a hijab pulled from her head by a passing student and that a truck full of students yelled at another student to “go back to Mexico” and called her a “w------.”

Organizers said incidents like these make them feel unsafe and unwelcome on the SIUE campus.

SIUE Chancellor Randy Pembrook said none of victims of the alleged incidents the group described has come forward to file a formal report with the campus police or administration.

Pembrook said that makes it difficult to investigate the allegations. However, Pembrook said he’s committed to making all students feel safe and welcome on campus.

Protesters said the victims in the aforementioned incidents do not feel comfortable coming forward and speaking to campus officials.

Pembrook said the university has hosted three Black Lives Matter conferences in the past, with another planned. He said events like these conferences show the university’s commitment to having open lines of communication with students about many issues including race.

The protest organizers say they will be hosting a 'safe space' student meeting on Thursday. The group is demanding a town hall event with the SIUE administration by December 2.

Tuesday’s demonstration was peaceful; no one was arrested.