MSU students protest sexist, racist incidents on campus
About 35 protesters gathered Wednesday afternoon in the South Complex courtyard to protest what they say is an ongoing problem of racism and sexism on campus, specifically in Case Hall.
The protest was organized by the W.E.B. DuBois Society, a student group in James Madison College that focuses on promoting racial justice.
A.J. Rice, an international relations senior and spokesman for the group, said the protest was organized in response to several recent incidents in Case Hall during which black women said they have been harassed and discriminated against. One of these incidents, he said, resulted in a student being slapped in the face multiple times by a white male, who also is a resident mentor in Case Hall.
Megan Threats, a political theory and constitutional democracy and comparative cultures and politics sophomore, said she was physically accosted twice by Case Hall resident mentor Max Schurig during an April 5 off-campus, school-related social function.
Threats said Schurig, a political theory and constitutional democracy sophomore, first slapped her face, then later placed his palm over her face and squeezed it.
“He assaulted me twice within a span of an hour, and it was unprovoked,” Threats said. “The process has been very slow in disciplinary action.”
When contacted Wednesday, Schurig denied Threat’s claims.
“She might be thinking of something else, I don’t know,” Schurig said.
According to members of the W.E.B. DuBois Society, Threats’ story is one of many instances of discrimination against black women in Case Hall and across campus.
Rice said representatives from the society have spoken with university administrators and are asking for compensation for the victims and punishment of the suspects. They also have requested that a committee be created to address future racial discrimination issues on campus.
Lee June, the university’s vice president for student affairs and services, said disciplinary action will first be taken on a departmental level before the administration gets involved.
“When allegations are made, there are processes (such as) the judicial system and things that can occur within the residence hall,” June said.
While Rice said racial tension has been a problem across campus, he said it is more prevalent in Case Hall, where the vast majority of residents are white.
Paul Goldblatt, MSU director of Residence Life, which holds jurisdiction over resident mentors, said no disciplinary action had been taken as of Wednesday evening, but the mentor is being reviewed through the department’s judicial process.
“The incident that occurred was not on campus, did not happen while the person was performing their mentoring duties, but at the same time we took it very seriously and we are dealing with it as an employee discipline matter,” Goldblatt said.
Alanna Powell, a James Madison freshman who lives in Case Hall, said the protest was the first time she’d heard about any racial tensions in the dorm.
“I think it’s terrible,” she said. “I always felt like Case was a really nice dorm and people were super-friendly.”