A collection of black students from Virginia Commonwealth University marched on their campus in a demonstration yesterday (November 12) to demand increased faculty diversity and cultural training.
A group of 30 took over the president’s office and blocked the entrance, according to the Richmond Times-Dispatch, where, in a video on the website, the students read a list of demands, including the hiring of an ombudsman to serve as an impartial judge of the training processes and hiring practices the demonstrators requested.
While the protest trended on Twitter, the confrontation was not hostile or filled with tension, per reports.
Instead, the university president, Michael Rao, joined the students to have a conversation about their requests.
Rao was already scheduled to speak to the students that same day, but did not anticipate a protest and ended up holding his conversation earlier than their set time.
According to stats drawn from the university, the student body is 15 percent black, while the faculty is only 5 percent black. Students emphasized feeling alienated and isolated in an environment where they sought growth. “I very much have the same vision for VCU,” Rao explained. “I think there’s greater capacity to do what we know we need to do for all fellow human beings, and it needs to be a model for the rest of the nation.”
Watch VCU students reading their list of demands, here.