UMD Students gather for #OccupyFratRow Movement

by BREANA BACON & LAURYN FRONEBERGER

Just four months after UMD students assembled in Stamp Student Union to voice their demands to demilitarize the College Park Police Department, many returned Friday afternoon to protest on Frat Row in response to the racist and sexist email sent by a member of Kappa Sigma Fraternity.

The protest kicked off with various demands from representatives of several student organizations. Many protesters at the event believe there wasn’t enough disciplinary action served to the individual and group involved in the email which included the now infamous line, ‘f**k consent.’ Members of The Vagina Monologues performed a skit in response to that line and sexual assault.

Dante Evans/Pulsefeedz
Member from The Vagina Monologues performs part of a skit embracing sexuality and condemning sexual assault. (Jasmine Pelaez/Pulsefeedz)

Senior Moriah Ray moderated the presentation of demands and shared some words of her own before organization members spoke.

“My goal before I leave this campus is to make sure every place on campus is a safe place.”

Senior Moriah Ray introduces speakers before they read demands in Stamp. (Dante Evans/Pulsefeedz)
Senior Moriah Ray introduces speakers before they read demands in Stamp. (Jasmine Pelaez/Pulsefeedz)

Some of the demands were posted on social media before the protest, such as full funding for the Nyumburu Cultural Center and ensuring that a visit to the Cultural Center is part of all campus tours, required Pre-Rush diversity training for Greek organizations which will be hosted and led by minority student organizations, addressing bargaining rights and minimum wage for all campus workers, namely women and workers of color.

Another goal protesters hoped to accomplish is to rename Byrd Stadium. The football field was dedicated to former president Curley Byrd, a supporter of seperate but equal legislation. Colin Byrd, vice president of UMD’s chapter of NAACP, wrote a letter to President Loh regarding the renaming of the stadium. When asked about the letter, Loh said he received it and plans to respond soon. During the opening remarks, a petition to change the name of the stadium was circulated, collecting the signatures of many in attendance.

Byrd was one of the students who spoke to the hundreds gathered in Stamp. He had many strong words about the email sent, the demilitarization of the College Park Police, and President Loh. The most stirring was his claim that “President Loh doesn’t care about black people.”

Colin Byrd speaks on his letter to President Loh about the renaming of Byrd Stadium. (Mya Green/Pulsefeedz)
Colin Byrd speaks on his letter to President Loh about the renaming of Byrd Stadium. (Mya Green/Pulsefeedz)

Students started the movement in the Baltimore Room of Stamp to make posters for the protest. While attendance was low during the making of posters, more people began to gather as the time to assemble at Stamp’s food court drew near. One of those people was President Wallace Loh.

After being openly criticized for not attending Monday’s Town Hall Meeting in Nyumburu on the topic of diversity among UMD students and UMD’s Greek community, Loh stayed to listen to student demands and even spoke with several students on topics such as funding for race studies programs as they made posters to carry to Frat Row.

President Loh speaks to students on topics concerning Friday's protest. (Dante Evans/Pulsefeedz)
President Loh speaks to students on topics concerning Friday’s protest. (Jasmine Pelaez/Pulsefeedz)

Following the remarks, student protesters made their way to Frat Row, chanting “These racist frats have got to go!” and “Who’s campus? Our campus!” As they traveled to the Kappa Sigma fraternity house, some spectators began to mock them while one group of students proceeded to yell profanity at them from across the street. Although no Greeks on Frat Row were willing to comment, some were more accepting of protesters and even allowed students to videotape on the lawn of their houses.

Tensions began to heat up on Frat Row after one protester chastised a black member of a predominantly white frat, saying “join a black frat.” Other protesters quickly reprimanded the student and reiterated their goal to promote unity and tolerance.

Pulsefeedz’s Lauryn Froneberger was in attendance at the protest and recorded as protesters walked along Frat Row to the Kappa Sigma house.

Another Town Hall meeting addressing these issues is scheduled for this Thursday, April 2.

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