BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – University at Buffalo President Satish Tripathi just delivered his fourth annual state of the university address. But, his speech was interrupted by a student protest.
Members of the Black Student Union call this a “peaceful protest.” They’re asking for further response from the university after a fellow student hung “white only” and “black only” signs across campus for an art project.
Senior at UB, Tiffany Vera, didn’t feel safe when she saw the “black only” and “white only” signs around campus. “I was thinking, I can’t believe this is happening at U.B. Am I safe enough to walk around campus? If someone is free to put that sign up, what are they free to do to me when i’m walking around” she said. “A lot of people felt they were involved in a social experiment without giving consent.”
The student union held up signs with the hashtag “we want answers” and then walked out of the Presidents’ address. “We want answers to our expectations, and to our questions. The purpose of the peaceful protest was to show to the University and the president, is that the Black Student Union will continue to pursue our expectations until they are met,” Vera said.
Before the president’s speech, the organization asked Tripathi to publicly address their concerns. They want the policies and procedures to be revisited, so every student, no matter their race, feels comfortable. “There is a lot of dialogue going on about why the signs were allowed to be put up by the professor, by the department and by the College of Arts and Sciences. Why was it considered an art project?”
But still, no answers. President Tripathi did speak about the project during his address, Friday. But Vera says the university’s statements have been generic. “I really want to see those words put into action,” she said.
The students will meet with the president this November to discuss this issue and what change will be made going forward. Among the changes could be a students of color advisory to work with the University Police Department.
For the full statement on this issue from the President and the University you can find it here.