On December 3rd, at 11:15 am, Hofstra University students in the student center performed a “die in” in the student center as protest to the grand jury decision on the same day to not indict officer, Daniel Pantaleo, 29, for the murder of Eric Garner. Students of universities around the country have been protesting on campus and off through die-ins, marches, moments of silence, and walk outs while chanting and holding signs saying, “Hands Up, Don’t Shoot”, “I Can’t Breathe”, and “BlackLivesMatter.”
Later at night at 10:30 pm, however, a student organized protest at Hofstra had an extremely minuscule turnout of 4 people, says Sydney Colbert, a Hofstra student who attended that night. The protest was substantially low in attendance compared to the previous protest for the non-indictment of Darren Wilson in the death of Mike Brown, at approximately 12 am on November 25th, at which over 200 students gathered in front Sondra and David Mack Student Center and marched from there to Dutch Treats and Hofstra USA. Despite the protest being scheduled close to finals week, the lack of a substantial turnout poses the question whether or not campus protests are effective while some students are voicing their opinions on racism in today’s culture.
Hofstra University senior, Aja Neal, who was one of several students to protest the Garner ruling through chalk outline drawings of Garner with the hashtag #BlackLivesMatter, on the academic side of the university’s campus. She was present at the first campus protest on November 25th and one in New York City on December 13th (Hofstra provided buss transportation for students to NYC and Washington DC).
When asked about her opinion on the presence of racism on campus, Neal said, “I think that it is definitely an issue that needs to be brought to light. Many people relegate racism to the south and refuse to believe that they could actually be guilty of something so serious. People think outright hate is the only form of racism, but here it’s usually more subtle. It’s simple things like talking about an issue that concerns black people in class and being treated like the head ambassador for all black people, having to tell my white friends they can’t call me the n-word no matter how close we are (that one’s not so subtle), discussing an issue in class that deals with race and just being confronted with apathy or having people not understand the problem. For example I was in a journalism class last semester during the Donald Sterling incident and people were more mad that his privacy was breached rather than being upset about what he said.”
The majority of students interviewed agreed that racism is still present in the campus community today, but on a subtle level while a minority of students, mostly white, said they do not think that racism is an issue on campus.”