Kids cancer fundraiser deemed microaggression by Kansas BLM protesters
- Members of the protest group “Rock Chalk Invisible Hawks” confronted administrators Wednesday afternoon with demands designed to increase diversity.
- At one point, the protesters congregated near Wescoe Hall, where members of the university's chapter of Tri Delta sorority were selling candy canes to fund raise for St. Jude's hospital.
- It's unclear exactly what interaction took place between the sorority sisters and the protesters, but members of RCIH have blasted the Greek organization on social media.
Several dozen University of Kansas students descended upon the Chancellor’s office Wednesday hoping to enforce obeisance to their diversity demands.
The demonstration convened at noon in an area outside an academic building known as Wescoe Beach, and the group’s exploits—from ambushing administrators to challenging a charity fundraiser for children with cancer—were catalogued on Twitter by @InvisibleHawks and others.
“In 7 minutes, you have the chance to show solidarity w/ students of color,” one participant tweeted just before the event was scheduled to start. “Head over to Wescoe now!”
Since November, an unofficial student group calling itself “Rock Chalk Invisible Hawks” (RCIH) has been agitating for the university to adopt inclusivity initiatives outlined in an ultimatum presented to administrators, such as hiring a team of “multicultural counselors” for students of color and instituting “mandatory, intense ‘inclusion and belonging’ training” for students and faculty.
Administrators initially responded to the students’ grievances by holding a forum to discuss the racial climate on campus and ideas for improving it, but the event seemed to create more tension than it relieved.
In particular, RCIH members became incensed when Student Council executives failed to unequivocally endorse the diversity demands, leading them to initiate impeachment proceedings even though the executives loudly professed solidarity with the protesters and explained that they had simply wished to avoid making a public commitment to take actions that go beyond their authority.
According to tweets from one of the RCIH protesters, Alex Kinkead, the group also showed up at Twente Hall, where the School of Social Welfare is located, and succeeded in securing a somewhat muted statement of support from Dean Paul Smokowski, along with a promise that it would be emailed to the student body.
“Today, Rock Chalk Invisible Hawk came to my office and asked me for my support for people to show up at noon today at Wescoe Beach,” Smokowski wrote. “I believe that with our values as a Social Welfare School, we have an opportunity to support them. I believe that they are using their voices to make important changes.”
Shortly thereafter, the RCIH demonstrators found themselves in conflict with another student group, the Tri Delta sorority, which was selling candy canes to raise money for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in the same Wescoe Beach area in which the protesters were congregating.
It is unclear exactly what sort of interaction took place between the two groups, but it appears that protesters took issue with the Tri Delta fundraiser.
.@KUTriDelta but that would've required u actually acknowledging that there's a racism problem on campus,right? So u chose 2 silence them.— Alicia Bang (@umnoodle) December 9, 2015
“@KUTriDelta cares more about philanthropy than #blacklivesmatter,” Kinkead tweeted in an apparent reference to the sorority’s unwillingness to forsake their fundraiser and join the racial protest.
“The shouts of @KUTriDelta are coming from privilege,” Kinkead added in a follow-up tweet. “They are silencing the students of color who are hurting.”
The Invisible Hawks Twitter profile also picked up on that theme, writing, “Wouldnt [sic] standing with us be a good philanthropic effort, or…”
Later, Kansan News reporter McKenna Harford reported that Senior Vice Provost for Academic Affairs Sara Rosen had pledged to meet several of RCIH’s demands, including mandatory inclusivity training and the inclusion of diversity in the academic curriculum, but even that was not enough to placate the protesters.
“WHEN? WE NEED DEADLINES,” the @InvisibleHawks Twitter account responded, adding, “STOP PATRONIZING US WITH PROMISES OF WHAT WILL EVENTUALLY COME.”
The group also reiterated some of its other demands, which can together be summarized best as a call for the university to become a “safe space” in which school officials take responsibility for policing hurt feelings.
“What will be added to article 19 of the Code of Rights and Responsibilities to ensure accountability for students who harm us?” they asked in one tweet. “REMOVE YIK YAK. TAKE THE STEP,” they demanded in another.
As Campus Reform published this story, the protesters claimed their demonstration was still “going strong,” and pledged to continue it until they receive a “clear, compelling, concise statement of support from KU VP suite by [the] end of [the] day.”
Follow the author of this article on Twitter: @FrickePete