The Rising Panthers, a grassroots student organization at Hobart and William Smith, have organized a second march of the semester in their efforts to make Hobart and William Smith a more inclusive campus. The effort is supported by The Dreamers, a group of students on the diversity, equity and inclusion committee of William Smith Congress and Hobart Student Government. Organizer Mercy Sherman ’22, who is active with both groups, urges fellow students, staff, faculty, parents and community members to join them on the steps of Coxe Hall at 5 p.m. on Monday, Aug. 31.
The event, she explains, was established to increase awareness that All Black Students Lives Matter and collect support for the eight demands the student group will make to the administration in their effort to enhance inclusive excellence at HWS.
“By the time I graduate I want future generations of Black students to feel comfortable on this campus. I don’t want them to be scared for their own safety or ever hear a racist remark,” she says.
The Rising Panthers have circulated a petition of their eight initiatives that has been signed by more than 200 individuals and they hope those attending on Monday will add their support.
During Monday’s march, Sherman says participants will walk to the sites on campus that are tied to their demands, such as the Office of Intercultural Affairs where they will call for renovations and additional social space, the Scandling Campus Center where they will urge HWS to sever ties with Sodexo, and to Demarest Hall where they will ask the Colleges to hire two new faculty members to the Africana Studies Department.
“We are trying to March in a way that makes our demands more transparent on campus,” Sherman says. “We hope to create a campus that is an inclusive space where all people can maneuver freely. Our goal is to have [Hobart and William Smith] start combating the systemic racism that exists not only in the Geneva community but on our campus.”
Sherman, like many of the students, are also active with the efforts of Geneva’s People’s Peaceful Protest. She’s encouraged by the support of many of those activists who joined Monday’s march on campus. Sherman and others have also been researching practices that have been implemented on other college and university campuses.
On Monday, Sept. 7, the Rising Panthers intend to gather at the Office of the President at 5 p.m. and deliver the petition and formally present their demands. They encourage all in support of their efforts to join the event.
The photo gallery above features images of The Rising Panthers first march of the semester on Aug. 24. The images were provided by Mercy Sherman ’22.