Thursday, September 23, 2021

Talk time with T: Breakdown in Yokum

Over 200 students and faculty sat with disappointment and hurt in their faces last Friday. Yokum Hall was filled with emotions and students desperate for answers as to how something like this could happen.
A racist and threating Snapchat post from a student at Plattsburgh State surfaced on Feb. 14 that sent the student body into uproar.

Gathered into one lecture hall, the student body stared down administration for answers pertaining to the student’s future on campus. Many students expressed how they felt about the post and said they don’t feel safe on campus. “You guys [administration] are not going to do anything until you see someone dead in front of the ACC,”PSUC student Emmanuel Rodriguez, said.

A list of demands was soon written up and read to administration. The student body demanded for the expulsion of the student who posted the Snapchat, as well as her partner who is seen in the post with her. Another incident occurred two years back and many students believe the administration does not do enough when it comes to situations like this.

If demands were not met, students planned to peacefully protest, refused to purchase food from dining halls, blocked vehicles from driving down Rugar Street and refused to attend courses.

There are no protocols in place for students who exhibit signs of a hate crime. Though a hate crime is defined as a crime motivated by racial, sexual, or other prejudice, typically one involving violence, the District Attorney said that he didn’t anticipate any hate crime charges to be filed against the student. Does Plattsburgh State actually take minorities lives seriously? It has yet to be proven.

“She threatened to lynch all of us,” said Malika James-Vassell, Student Association senate, “and for them not to take it as a hate crime is disappointing and disgusting.”

There are rumors circulating about what happened to the student and what university police have done for the student in the days leading up to and during the protests. Many are claiming the student got a police escort to class and her dorm room and movement into another dorm room for her safety. She was also reported by an RA in her former residence hall, that she was outside of the meeting in Yokum, however, was not allowed in due to authorities fearing for her safety. If this is all true, it is yet another disappointment and example of where priorities lie at PSUC.

While students ranted and expressed their concerns, the administration looked at them like they didn’t know what to say. So, they didn’t say anything. Two hours of their lives down the drain for administration to tell the student body that there’s a process the student has to go through before any decisions can be made.

Students then protested around campus to get their point across of demanding the change of the conduct code, as well as the expulsion of the student under heat. Administration then vowed to stay in the equal opportunity program office until a revised draft was written for the student conduct.

Around 10 p.m., the student association then demanded the code of conduct be amended and the student be expelled by Feb. 20, and if the demands were not met, they would take further action. The next day, a draft was given to students during a 10 a.m. meeting and students then prepared for another protest at noon.

Streets were blocked off for students as they marched to the District Attorney’s office in downtown Plattsburgh. They then marched to President Ettling’s house demanding he step down. Startled and looking defeated, the president announced that he will be at the 5 p.m. meeting later that day.

“There should be an administration detox,” Vassell said.

The student body has no confidence in the leaders of the school. No actions to change the code of conduct had been placed since the last incident. As of right now, the student body has not been given a definite answer as to what happened to the student other than the fact that she is no longer a student as well as what will happen in regards to the president stepping down.

“Actions have been made today,” EOP director, Kyla Relaford, said, referring to the student. A faculty meeting was held to discuss a vote of no confidence in the administration. Students want all rumors to be cleared up, and they want answers. They are drained emotionally. Once faculty knows what the future holds for PSUC, the student body would like to be informed. PSUC, it is time to tell the truth and take any heat that comes your way.

Email Tamiyha Carter at fuse@cardinalpointsonline.com

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