Students, faculty and staff packed in to Lean Lecture Hall on Nov. 28 to discuss recent concerns across campus about demands raised at a recent protest and to hear other concerns from community members. Photo by Tyler Rak ’24

Tyler Rak


An email addressed to the entire community, but more specifically the student body, was sent on Friday, Nov. 17 encouraging the campus community to attend a student-led Town Hall set for Tuesday, Nov. 28. This email was co-signed by professors Beatrice Adams, Laura Burch, Claire Eager, Jennifer Hayward, Michele Leiby, Amyaz Moledina, Nii Nikoi, Tom Prendergast, Evan Riley and Désirée Weber.

At 7 p.m. on the evening of the Town Hall, over 100 members of the community crammed into Lean Lecture Hall to discuss issues facing students on campus today. In attendance were countless students, a number of the ten faculty members who signed the initial email encouraging attendance as well as numerous other members of the campus community from the faculty, staff and administration. 

Dr. Désirée Weber, department chair and associate professor of political science, noted that the large attendance “is a sign of two things: these issues of equity and accountability are important to this community, and that we are a community that values listening to each other about concerns and problems.” 

Dr. Nii Nikoi, assistant professor of global media and digital studies, echoed this sentiment by saying attendees had “a sincere desire to understand the nature of the concerns of Black students on campus.” 

The crowd was soon quelled to silence as the Town Hall began promptly at 7 p.m. Six student leaders, Daphnye Henderson ’25, Shaunta Palmer ’24, Angel Asamoah ’25, Kayla Robinson ’25, Cam Love ’25 and Delani Patterson ’25, most of whom participated in the protest at President Anne McCall’s inauguration, began the evening with intention-setting. Everyone gathered was reminded that this was a safe space to discuss both the protest and other issues facing campus while highlighting changes moving forward. 

The students leading the event claimed that the protest at President McCall’s inauguration followed her speech at Convocation, at which she encouraged students to be disruptive in the liberal arts. The protestors thus saw action as the only way left to address their grievances – which they explained stem from a lack of accountability, communication and transparency between students and the administration on campus. 

These grievances have left students, namely black and brown students, feeling uncared for and forgotten by the administration. “They hear you and that’s it,” Henderson claimed, “We need action. [At] what point does conversation end?”

The evening then turned to the list of demands which were projected on the board behind the speakers. First, several successes were referenced including the return of the 2021 spice rack and microwave in Lowry. However, a number of the demands have yet to be addressed. 

Among these demands include clear and comprehensive communication regarding the renovation of Douglass Hall, and the inclusion of race and gender questions on safety reports – which are intended to better understand and combat bias-related incidents on campus. 

Future demands that have yet to be initiated include the transfer of the Black Equity Fund to the office of Multicultural Student Affairs, Lillian Evans being reinstated in her position as a Dean, a performance evaluation of now-Interim Dean of Students Ashley Reid, better communication from International Student Services regarding visas, the creation of a Black Cultural Center on campus and a 360-degree review for all staff members working with students. The goal of these demands, the student leaders claim, is to create “a sense of belonging for black students on a predominantly white campus.” 

“We should hold [staff] accountable like we hold faculty accountable,” the event leaders explained while elaborating on the potential for a 360-degree review. Protestors explained that a 360-degree review of staff is important to them, claiming that, if faculty are required to be reviewed by students at the end of every semester, that students should have the right to review the performance of certain staff members.

Discussion was opened to any member of the audience to bring up concerns or questions that students – or staff and faculty – face. Concerns could be broached either by raising your hand or contributing anonymously through folded note cards which were passed out throughout the evening.

Several of the opening questions directly asked the protestors why they chose to call out administrators by name. In response, the protestors stressed that it was not an attack on their character, but rather questioning their job performance. They discussed the Black Manifesto, published in 2021, and claimed that these administrators knew the issues students faced, but continue not to address them – citing a lack of transparency in the Dean of Students office to the student body.

A general sentiment felt by most attendees on this issue was a lack of clarity for what students – and faculty – should do when they have complaints or issues on campus. For many students in attendance, their first resource is their academic or I.S. advisors; however, several faculty members noted that they were unsure how to handle student complaints and are particularly uncomfortable when complaints arise about administrators. 

Conversely, the protestors also claimed that the Dean of Students office is uncomfortable dealing with issues of bias raised against faculty members and that these reports often go unresolved. This lack of transparency has left students confused about reporting.

While the event was a rather quiet affair, the air was immediately sucked from the room when an anonymous question was asked: how did you react to the administration’s response to the protest?

“It makes us feel like we aren’t valued,” Asamoah emphasized.

“I was saddened,” Robinson explained. “We wouldn’t be talking if we didn’t care.” 

“We cannot bully those that are higher up than us,” Robinson said when asked about accusations of protestors’ behavior being considered “bullying” – which was said in a statement from the office of the President in response to the protest at inauguration. 

“We knew what we were doing, calling out our own people,” Handerson added –  acknowledging that they were aware that their protest centered around only Black administrators. “We thought it through,” Henderson explained that the purpose of this call-out was “not about race, but about job performance.” 

When asked about the resignation of two of the four administrators called out in the protest, the student leaders explained that it was not the purpose of their protest. Instead of pushing for their resignation, they explained that they wanted a comprehensive evaluation of administrators’ job performance to hold them accountable.

“This institution doesn’t feel as though the history of protest is valid,” Robinson claimed, bringing up a number of manifestos and protests, by black students in particular, which raised numerous issues that have been left unaddressed. 

These issues “needed to be addressed in 1866 and have not been,” Robinson said, placing the blame on administrators who have been ineffective at implementing change raised by past protests, according to protestors.

The conversation then moved to concerns about faculty members being present in student-led spaces and supporting student activism. The protestors encouraged faculty members to be more involved in student-led spaces, but encouraged faculty to educate themselves or be open to learning more about the situation before implementing their own opinion on the situation.

However, some students fear for faculty members who try to defend students. “We don’t expect you to lose your job if you fight battles for us,” Henderson claimed. 

Another anonymous question asked how students could better support black faculty and staff members who feel unwelcome on campus. To this question, Director of Multicultural Student Affairs Lillian Evans offered an answer: “A student is not supposed to make me feel belonging at an institution I work at, it’s the institution’s job – it is not your burden to bear.”

The conversation turned towards how community members could unite to create a sense of belonging for all. This event, the leaders hoped, would be a step in the right direction. 

“People across campus are interested in having more direct communication with each other,” explained Dr. Adams. Protestors reiterated this in the Town Hall by encouraging more events that are open to all students instead of decisions being made at closed-door meetings. 

“The town hall meeting showcased the broader Wooster community’s commitment to utilizing public dialogue to promote community building, listening, and planning for action,” said Dr. Nikoi. 

“Open discussion and – yes, even protest and public disagreement – are important parts of figuring those issues out,” Weber agreed, “and moving forward so we don’t ignore the problems and replicate them again and again.” 

“Don’t leave this room and think it’s over,” Sydney Chandler ’27 proclaimed – bringing a close to the event as one of the final speakers to comment that evening.

“These demands are not just a black issue but they are a campus community issue,” the protestors said in a statement issued to the Voice after the event. “This is not over and will not be over until every demand on that list is met.”

Another opportunity to discuss these concerns, and others faced by the campus community, will be held in the form of Justice Dialogues on and surrounding Martin Luther King Jr. Day in January.