About two dozen students representing the Council of Coalitions and affiliated student groups protested in front of the Fulton Center on Monday morning, calling on the University to be more responsive to the concerns of marginalized communities.
The students marched through campus shouting “No justice, no peace,” “Hey-hey, ho-ho, ASU is a joke,” and “The racism here has got to go,” before delivering a letter of their demands to ASU President Michael Crow's office.
Anne Mickey, a senior majoring in justice studies and in community advocacy and social policy, organized the protest. Mickey, who is also a facilitator in the ASU Rainbow Coalition, said the demonstration comes after what the groups see as years of meeting with the University to no avail.
“We mostly are trying to raise other people’s awareness of what’s going on because we’ve been experiencing these problems with the administration for months, and years," Mickey said. "And not a lot of it is known outside of the Council of Coalitions, so we are trying to get people’s attention and demand in public what we need."
The protest culminated in a number of speeches in front of the Fulton Center, where Crow's office is located.
The University didn't respond to the individual demands, but in a statement emailed to the State Press on Monday an official said ASU was committed to working with all students.
“Arizona State University is committed at its core to accessibility, inclusivity, diversity and to the success of all of its students," the official said in an emailed statement. "Crucial to that mission is the work of the Council of Coalitions and each member group and student leader in it. We are proud to work with them on a range of issues and are always willing to discuss their concerns. To that end, ASU staff have met with students and will continue to keep an open dialogue and good working relationship with all parties"
Those meetings have happened, protestors said, but the outcomes were not satisfactory for some of the leaders, including the founder of the Multicultural Solidarity Coalition and third-year doctoral student at the School of Sustainability, Sarra Tekola. The coalition is a grassroots student organization made up of ASU students and is not chartered by the University.
“The University refused to say anything,” Tekola said, referring to posters put up by the white supremacist group Identity Evropa. “We posted these photos over and over, and we’ve asked them (ASU) to do something about it … we’ve asked them to put out a statement to say ‘Nazis and white supremacists aren’t welcome.’ That’s what the very least of our ask is, and they refused to do that.”
A University official with knowledge of the conversation disputed that characterization.
The University has put out statements through other news media in the past, including once to the Phoenix New Times in 2017 and to the State Press on multiple occasions, and separately has encouraged any students who have concerns to reach out to their dean.
The University has had multiple incidents of what they claim to be outside groups posting images and posters around campus that some students find offensive.
In those cases, including the recent posting of an image of a Covington Catholic High school student with the words "Stand your ground," ASU staff were sent out to take down the posters
At that time four posters on the two campuses that featured a drawing of Nick Sandmann, a Covington Catholic High School student who made national headlines after a video of him in a confrontation with Omaha tribe elder Nathan Phillips on Jan. 18 went viral were taken down.
Those posters also drew a response from Crow at the time, who called them "The rantings of unhinged hate-mongers bent on disrupting the lives of people who are moving forward into a future that these Cro-Magnons fear."
“Any students who have concerns, requests, suggestions or feedback are encouraged to reach out to the deans of students located on each campus,” a University official said on Monday.
Organizers of the protest did not provide specific examples of several claims made in the demand letter, including unfair funding practices.
“Something that we’ve noticed in receiving appropriations, is that the communities we represent often times don’t receive as much in appropriations of the student activity fee, and there have been instances of explicit bias exhibited by the people who are distributing those funds,” Mickey said.
In the past, Undergraduate Student Government Tempe has been staunch in its position that “USGT awards funds from a viewpoint neutral manner.”
Members of USG were not available to comment at the time of publication.
The other demands included a call for increased sensitivity training, recognition of "A" mountain and its local tribal communities and more comprehensive professional development pathways for marginalized communities.
Organizers also did not provide specific examples of a failure by the University to “take the necessary measures to ensure the success and safety of our communities.” According to Mickey, “students in our communities have been targeted with attacks.”
“The dean of students has been aware of it and has not adequately responded,” she said, without citing specific examples.
Students ended the march with a vow to continue the work they started, and not give in until the demands were met.
“If this is the last protest, there will be no change," Tekola said. "I think we’ll have to continue to build this, continue to grow, continue to be more inclusive. These are the demands from different coalitions."