Hundreds join May 2nd protest on SIUC campus

Hundreds join May 2nd protest on SIUC campus
(Source: Giacomo Luca/KFVS)
(Source: Giacomo Luca/KFVS)
(Source: Giacomo Luca/KFVS)
(Source: Giacomo Luca/KFVS)
(Source: Giacomo Luca/KFVS)
(Source: Giacomo Luca/KFVS)
(Source: Giacomo Luca/KFVS)
(Source: Giacomo Luca/KFVS)

CARBONDALE, IL (KFVS) - On Monday, May 2 students at Southern Illinois University Carbondale held a demonstration about their concerns over racism, the state budget and safety.

At least 200 protesters met at the center of SIUC campus.

It began at 10 a.m. as they made their way into the chancellor's office, chanted through Morris Library and walked the streets demonstrating against racism and student debt.

Some protesters wore #NoRacism shirts as they marched.

The whole day remained peaceful. The university's senior administrative staff were on hand to answer questions and listen to students' concerns in safe zones.

"We've been listening and talking and gathering about what we can do as a campus community," university spokeswoman Rae Goldsmith said. "It's not just the administration, it's not just students, it's not just faculty and staff. We do need to have a good conversation about things we can do as the community to make sure that we are welcoming and respectful of all the people who come here."

There was a lot of noise, but no violence to speak of.

SIU police say they didn't arrest anyone related to the protest.

Two May 2nd strike committee members we talked to the week before said they wanted to start a conversation about the issues that face SIU.

On Monday, organizers say they feel both of those missions were accomplished.

SIUC student Jack Richardson said the protest was originally about the state budget, but has since grown into a slew of other concerns.

"I definitely think a lot of the racists comments need to be addressed by students and by faculty," Richardson said.

"I'm, for one, getting really tired of it," protester Ethan Crane said. "So I decided to make a sign and join out this protest in order to try and make my voice heard."

"If you want to fight for something, that's fine as long as you keep it peaceful," said Jake Certer, who watched the protests.

Mikala Barrett, SIU student and peace rally organizer, said she's hopeful the dialogue will continue.

"Honestly, I thought today was very successful. There are so many people, diverse people, willing to talk to each other now," she said.

She said she feels like they broke down some barriers.

"People thought it was a wall that was dividing people and it wasn't," she said. "It's just that people weren't communicating. That's the problem here at SIUC."

She said she's been in contact with students at other Illinois universities about starting some type of conversations on their campuses.

Not everyone agreed with the protest.

"I think it's honestly stupid, to be honest," Levi Weiler said. "Especially when it started out, a you know, writing things on Faner. Like, you're costing the university several thousands of dollars."

A recent survey conducted by Heartland News reflects some of the other issues students at Southern Illinois University Carbondale are concerned about.

Several incidents building up to the May 2 rally have some students on edge about their safety on campus Monday.

A lot of the current controversy was brought on after an SIUC student posted a video on Facebook speaking about racism at the university.

Then, an anonymous group vandalized a campus building, and an anonymous racist video surfaced threatening lynching and attacks on May 2nd protesters.

"I think everybody is a little worried about you know somebody misrepresenting the people who actually care about what's going on and it only takes one person to react in a way that will reflect on all of us," Jack Richardson said.

Interim Provost Susan Ford assured students that campus will be a safe place.

"People are nervous," Ford said. "People have expressed to us that they feel concerned that they may not be safe."

Students and staff are even launching a response in video called "It's not Okay."

University officials said they are committed to students' safety. Students will be able to go to a number of on campus safe zones May 2 and can expect to see an increased police presence.

University officials also state classes will still be held on Monday. A May 2nd Q&A has been set up on the university's website, for more information click here.

Download the KFVS News app: iPhone | Android

Copyright 2016 KFVS. All rights reserved.