Editor’s Note: The following is a guest editorial written by Aislyn Colgan and Marty Hiller of the Ithaca Chapter of the group Showing Up For Racial Justice.
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ITHACA, NY – An Open Letter to the Ithaca College Board of Trustees
Thousands of students, faculty and staff at Ithaca College are calling for the resignation of president Tom Rochon, as a first step toward addressing longstanding issues of racism at Ithaca College. Their protests, led by POC@IC, have brought your school — and the city of Ithaca — into the national spotlight.
We the undersigned stand in solidarity with them, and we call on the Board of Trustees to listen to those who demand Rochon’s resignation.
The president recently said he is “stepping up not stepping down” in response to racial tensions. But the first “step up” is to listen deeply to the people most affected by racism — people of color — and they are asking him to step down. Rochon’s top-down approach to governance, and his demonstrated indifference to feedback from students, faculty and staff render him incapable of addressing their concerns.
Racism is not a new issue at Ithaca College, as Rochon implied in a recent newspaper article. It is not only a result of the increasing diversity of the student body. Racism is an old illness, which remains in our society and its institutions because it is allowed to remain.
The primary responsibility for Ithaca College’s response to racism on campus lies on the shoulders of the president, and Rochon’s actions as president have aggravated the situation instead of alleviating it. To move forward, the school needs a leader with a deep and lasting commitment to racial justice.
You, the Board of Trustees, have an opportunity to demonstrate Ithaca College’s commitment to its students, faculty and staff with your response to their request. The Ithaca community, and the nation, are watching to see what side of history you will stand on.
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