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Occupy Thanksgiving: Lewis & Clark students demand college admit land ‘taken from Native Americans’

Image via Twitter/@pdxnewsnow

Image via Twitter/@pdxnewsnow

Distraught students at Portland’s Lewis & Clark College occupied and demanded a series of concessions from President Barry Glassner’s office on Tuesday Nov. 24, according to Oregonlive.com.

The president was given the following orders: Glassner must fulfill the students’ demands, admit his failure to prioritize the safety and security of students of color, and reaffirm his commitment to international student’s safety.

The protestors also want President Glassner to “acknowledge that Lewis & Clark is built on land taken from Native Americans, honors slave owners, appropriates Native American culture in its art and architecture, and asserts the legacy of Anglo-American white supremacy.”

Campus climate was vitriolic last week leading to this sit-in. An anonymous user on the social media app Yik-Yak spewed racial epithets targeting minorities that prompted a Portland police and school investigation. Over the weekend, Rwandan student Tanguy Muvuna was allegedly attacked and beaten.

Shortly after midnight, Muvuna was walking through campus. He claims he was shoved to the ground, choked, and kicked by three unknown white men. His loud screams went unnoticed as they circled him, calling him the N-word and threatening his life. One of the attackers poured an unknown substance down his throat. He swallowed some, but spit the rest in his attacker’s face. He was able to escape free and sprinted to his dorm.

He purged the sour substance by jamming his finger down his throat and throwing up. His friend called the police. Campus and local authorities arrived shortly after. Muvuna said his face was swollen and leg bruised, causing him to walk with a limp.

Despite the injuries, the victim did not go to a hospital that night. He also does not want the police to bring charges against his assailants, regardless of the physical and mental anguish caused. Oregonlive reported that Muvuna has forgiven these people.

“If they’re students,” he said at a rally on campus Tuesday night, “I want them to study and and make their families proud.”

The assault and indignant students’ stipulations would indicate President Glassner’s poor management has put minority students in peril since his tenure began in 2010.

Yet Lewis & Clark’s daily crime log highlights there are relatively little hate-related incidents or violence on campus. In the past two years there have been a total of three reported hate crimes. Two of those crimes occurred in the summer months of July and August 2015, when fewer students were on campus. More tellingly, there have been zero reported assaults. These facts seem to dispute the protester’s apprehension for lack of safety.

As for crime prevention resources, there are ample services and tools on campus. According to the 2015-2016 Lewis & Clark Crime Awareness, Security, and Safety report “the college has placed over 30 security cameras on campus locations.” There are also “25 well-placed blue light emergency telephones that automatically dial into the Office of Campus Safety.”

President Glassner was also asked by students to apologize for being absent from campus on Saturday. They criticized him for failing to speak out quickly enough. These transgressions come even after he and Dean of Students Anna Gonzalez issued a lengthy statement and plan of action Saturday afternoon.

As for his absence that day? Glassner was on the other side of the country in Washington, DC. He cut his trip short and returned to campus. The president addressed the college community Sunday during an interfaith prayer service.

Still, on Tuesday, demonstrators demanded the college confront its ‘racist’ history and continuation of white supremacy.

The embattled president spoke to the protesters in his building early Tuesday morning. He promised he would do more on campus and establish a plan, but did not remark on any specific grievances. The protestors gave Glassner a deadline for concrete change in the form of a news conference scheduled for March 20. In the meantime, campus security and police are fully investigating the incident.


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