LAS VEGAS – A small group of Jewish students at the University of Arizona are taking their grievances to a bigger stage, by organizing a walkout of a conference to address rising anti-Semitism in the country.
The group of about a dozen students at Laguardian Community College (LCC) in Phoenix have been protesting for weeks on the campus, demanding more transparency about the university’s anti-Semitic policies.
They are demanding the resignation of LCC President Lavinia Davis, the school’s vice president for student affairs, and the removal of the university from the conference.
They want the conference canceled, as it has not been accredited by the American Jewish Congress and is currently held in Israel.
The Jewish community, they say, has become less diverse and the diversity is diminishing, especially in LCC.
As a result, they believe, students of color, students with disabilities, students who don’t identify with either the Jewish faith or with any particular ethnic group, will continue to be excluded from the campus community.
“I’m tired of being ignored and being discriminated against because of my skin color, and because of who I am,” said Tania Barani, one of the students who organized the protest.
“This is our voice.
It’s a voice that we need to hear.”
The protest is scheduled for Saturday, Oct. 11, from 1 p.m. to 3 p.t. in the parking lot of the LCC, at the corner of the corner at U.S. Route 60 and U.C. Highway 99.
A representative for LCC told The Jerusalem Times that the group has been in contact with Davis, who is scheduled to deliver a speech on Saturday, the day of the protest, about the need for the university to reevaluate its policies.
“We are working to find a way to reach out to her in the hopes of finding some compromise that would be respectful of our voices,” the representative said.
“The LCC has been working hard to make this happen.
We are hopeful that she will come to our side and support us.”
The group, which includes three students from the Loyola University of Chicago and one each from the University at Albany, University of California at Berkeley and the University University of Connecticut, have been working for months on the march.
They have held meetings in classrooms, with faculty members, with students, and with other students of colour.
“We’ve been talking to students about their concerns,” said Barani.
The protests have also been joined by the College of Southern Nevada and the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, which have both called on Davis to resign.
“We have a real chance of bringing the whole university together,” said Barbara Stuckey, executive director of the College.
Says Stuckeys: “She is not going to go away.
There is a real risk that this march will continue for a long time.”
The Loyolas protest follows several protests by students at other universities in recent months.
In November, a group of students from Arizona State University held a protest outside of the school in protest of Davis’s lack of transparency and lack of leadership on campus anti-racism initiatives.
In November, students at Rutgers University held protests at the university over a proposal to include Jewish students in its diversity studies program.
And in January, a student protest at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology over an anti-Israel speaker was followed by a mass boycott of the state university and other universities across the country that have ties to Israel.
The groups say Davis should resign because of the lack of progress on addressing anti-black racism in America.
“When you see a school that has been consistently excluded, and when you see the fact that we have not seen an African-American president for the last 25 years, and you see how African-Americans are being murdered in our country, then you know that there is a lot to be upset about,” said David Auerbach, the vice president of the Jewish Federations of Greater Los Angeles.
Barani said the march is a way for the Jewish student community to be heard and speak out against what she called an administration that she feels has been slow to respond to student concerns and has failed to engage the students of Color.
“If you are an African American, or you are a student of color and you have a concern, we have a right to say it, we can say it,” she said.
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