It has now been roughly one week of protests organized by the group “Concerned 44” on campus. They have successfully made their presence known by occupying the lobby in Presidents Hall, gathering on the Green with signs, marching through campus and taking to the streets of South Orange to announce their demands to the community both on and off campus.
On Oct. 27, Interim Provost Dr. Karen Boroff sent out an email that canceled the Talent of Inclusion initiative, which the group referred to on social media as a step to achieving their goals.
While the group hasn’t been perfect, there is a commendable dedication to the cause that has empowered all participants to keep fighting for their mark on campus history. Minority students have a long history of protesting on college campuses in regards to representation, education, etc. Thus, I am not at all surprised when our generation wants to pick up where the last left off.
The cohesiveness that is, at the very least, reflected in their social media and very public protests is likely due to a group of students who have stepped into leadership roles within Concerned 44. According to Ashley Phillips, an active member of the group, there are a handful of organizers who have been particularly vocal throughout the week-long protest. Among them are Taylor Newkirk, Emani Miles, Alyssa Akegnan and Chris Duran, who were all named in an Oct. 24 Setonian story about Concerned 44. In addition, Phillips also named Olivia Blackwood and Shania Vincent.
Though a collective drive within the group will allow it to hold fast for a time, it is not a deciding factor in whether or not Concerned 44 sees the administration meet each of their demands. That will take patience, not necessarily louder chanting. It will take determination, as unrelenting stubbornness may prove counterproductive in the long run. For instance, remaining in Presidents Hall past the permitted time is not a show of dignified defiance. Nor is refusing to negotiate, as the group has expressed in their chanting during their marches.
The members of Concerned 44 should remain steadfast in their demands, but remember that a defensive administration will remain as stubborn as the group demanding change. Unfortunately, one of those two groups still has a heavier hand that could deal a harsher blow than the other.
To the members of Concerned 44, I say this: Be conscious of the possible consequences of your action. Reflect on the successes and failures of protests in the past. Learn from the past and avoid the same mistakes those in your place have made before you.
Fighting battles against institutions are not won in a day, a week, a semester or even a year. Concerned 44 is prepared to tough it out for as long as it takes and they should continue to do what they’re doing. Just keep in mind that it may not end with the same students who started it.
Kiera Alexander is a junior journalism major from Sacramento, California. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.