Maybe you’ve seen the video that is circulating by now. If not, here’s the short version showing two white male students being confronted while studying and asked to leave because one of them has a “Police Lives Matter” sticker on his laptop. “This is our space,” one of the women behind the camera says.
🚨 This insanity is happening on college campuses pic.twitter.com/BrVxICZYqP
— Libs of Tik Tok (@libsoftiktok) September 24, 2021
These two students don’t seem to be doing anything other than studying and after being hectored for more than 5 minutes, they eventually did leave. To explain why this erupted as it did, I have to go into the whole backstory of this particular room.
This incident took place in Student Pavillion 321 on the Tempe campus of Arizona State University. If you go to the ASU website, here’s what it says about that particular floor of the building:
…interactive academic classrooms and University Academic Success Programs located on the third floor.
So this building is a new student center and the third floor was intended to be a place where students could go for free tutoring. But that changed because students from a group called the Multicultural Solidarity Coalition (MSC), which is not a registered student group on campus, successfully pressured the administration into making the third floor into a multicultural student space.
The MSC started pushing for this back in 2019 but the administration said it didn’t have money to build new multicultural centers on four separate campuses. Last August (2020), when BLM marches were taking place around the country, the MSC held a student protest demanding a multicultural center and the defunding of campus police:
The march began as protesters yelled, “Hands up, don’t shoot!” But as they approached the ASU Tempe campus, a cry much more unique to the students at ASU echoed the streets from Daley Park to Cady Mall: “Hey hey, ho ho, Michael Crow has got to go.”
“When Black students are under attack, what do we do? Stand up, fight back!” the chant continued, as protesters marched behind leaders of the Multicultural Solidarity Coalition.
Members of the community protested with the MSC, demanding a Multicultural Center at ASU and for ASU’s police department to be defunded. The protest also called for more equitable hiring practices for faculty of color.
One student at the march said, “Having to find a rental space for your club every single time because there is no centralized spot on campus for you to go — that is suppression.” Another student said, “As students of this university, we need to be taught our history. We need a staff that reflects the beautiful shades of our school and our country, and we need a higher-education system that will support the growth, development and equity of marginalized groups and our greater multicultural community.”
In the wake of the march, ASU announced that students could indeed have a multicultural space (but not a center) on each campus. In essence, they would hand over some space that had previously been used for something else. In Tempe that was the third floor of the student center, formerly a studying and tutoring space.
As recently as mid-August, MSC members were complaining that the signs outside the new space hadn’t been replaced yet. “They haven’t even changed the plaque,” one of the MSC leaders said on the group’s Instagram account. Four days later, the signs had been changed. They now read “Multicultural space coming soon.”
In early September, the MSC had gained access to the new space but now complained that it still looked like a study area. “Now we have to ensure the other half of what we asked for. We need ASU to put money and resources and staff and us as students need to be the ones governing this space,” one of the leaders said. “As students of color, nothing is given to us. Everything has to be fought for and won and defended.” The idea that they were defending space they had won seems significant.
Then on September 9, the MSC held their first meeting in the new space. One of the members of the group talked about how meetings with the dean of students about the space had been a waste of time and therefore the group might be taking a different approach moving forward. “It stopped us from organizing more direct actions,” she said. She continued, “This room is just the beginning and if we’re going to keep going, meetings with Dean Aska might not be the way it’s going to work…”
So that’s the backstory for the video above. A direct action, non-registered student group has been pushing for this multicultural space and then seeking to defend and expand it. So when two, apparently conservative, white male students showed up to study, they treated it like an invasion.
So far as I know, the two white guys who were kicked out haven’t been identified yet. The Libs of TikTok Twitter feed has started a fundraiser for the two guys on GoFundMe but their names aren’t mentioned there either. We’ll have to wait and see what they have to say about why they were there. In the video one guy says he wasn’t trying to offend anyone. I’m sure others noticed that the 2nd guy with him is wearing a “Did not vote for Joe Biden” t-shirt and both of them have Chick-fil-a cups next to them. Maybe that was all coincidence but I’m guessing some will claim they were trying to trigger people to make a point.
If so, it clearly worked. The MSC students come off as militant, bullies. In the extended clip, one of the MSC students shouts, “F**k America, bro. America was created on genocide and slavery.” Just another day on a college campus in 2021. At the moment I can’t embed the full clip at the link above but I’ll try to add it later.
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