Hundreds expected to protest racism at Wofford College


SPARTANBURG, S.C. (WSPA) – A group of hundreds are expected to march across the Wofford College campus Thursday afternoon in protest of racism.

The protest is scheduled to begin at 2:30 p.m. outside Carlisle Hall, one of 3 dorms named after a former Wofford president who owned slaves.

The group of students leading the march is called the Wofford Anti-Racism Coalition. It has 9 demands for the school, outlined in a letter to the school’s president:

To that end, in addition to the Immediate (Summer and Fall 2020) actions listed in A Vision for Wofford in the World, we call on Wofford commit to the following demands by August 25, 2020, which have been adapted from The Short-Term Demands in the Wofford Anti-Racism Coalition’s Grievances & Demands:

  1. We demand that Wofford hire an independent external consultant to assess the racial climate at Wofford and provide recommendations for the college to become antiracist.
  2. We demand that policies and procedures for reporting bias incidents be reviewed, especially as it relates to processes for tenured faculty. We demand that specific, transparent, and thoroughly communicated remedies for racist, discriminatory or exclusionist behavior by faculty be established. 
  3. We demand that Teach.Equity.Now be made MANDATORY for ALL faculty during the 2020-2021 school year. Our understanding is that it is only being offered to 20 voluntary faculty members. This does not demonstrate a commitment to anti-racist classrooms.
  4. We demand that all administrators, professional staff, and advisors, including Offices of Marketing and Communication, Admission/Financial Aid, the President’s Cabinet, and Board of Trustees be required to take at least annual anti-racist and anti-bias training. This must also be mandatory. 
  5. We demand that the Office of Diversity and Inclusion’s overall budget and staff be expanded to include four (4) professional, full-time staff members with discretionary funds to meet the new and emerging needs of students of color.
  6. We demand that the AMS/NPHC House be renamed to better represent the Black students and provide them with a space that is their own, just as the IFC and Panhellenic chapters have. We demand that this house be reserved specifically for WWC, WMC, BSA, and NPHC organizations. 
  7. We demand equitable treatment of all organizations that occupy houses at the Greek Village on behalf of the Office of Campus Life and Student Development and administration.
  8. We demand that at least one-third of all future hires for professional staff and full-time faculty be of color. 
  9. We demand that the names of offensively named buildings — Carlisle, Shipp, and Wightman — be changed. (Name suggestions: Gray Hall, Jones Hall, Means Hall).

In relation to the 9th demand, the group started a petition in August to rename the dorms. They have collected nearly 2,500 signatures.

The petition states in part:

“It is unacceptable for Wofford College to have dormitories on campus named after William May Wightman, Albert Micajah Shipp, and James Henry Carlisle who all owned enslaved people. It is disrespectful to force students to reside in buildings named after people who did not believe in the humanity of Black people. 

We demand that the names of these buildings be changed. We suggest the college honor three alumni of color: Albert Gray, Douglas Jones, and Janice B. Means. In September 1964, Albert Gray ‘71 became Wofford’s first African-American student. Doug Jones ‘69 was the first African-American to graduate from Wofford. Janice B. Means ‘73 was the first African-American woman to graduate from Wofford. “

The protest is scheduled for 2:30 to 4 pm., ending at the school’s administration building.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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