A group of about two dozen black Towson University students brought a list of 13 demands to the school's interim President Timothy Chandler's office Wednesday and reviewed them with him until after midnight, when he pledged to address them.
The protest focused on increasing the number of tenured faculty members of color, adding cultural competency courses and creating a no-tolerance policy on racial, sexual and homophobic epithets with consequences to include "potential expulsion."
Deb Moriarty, the university's vice president for student affairs, and other administrators helped Chandler review and revise the students' demands for more than eight hours. Together, the group went line-by-line, editing the wording of each demand until Chandler agreed to sign his name and commit to working toward the goals early Thursday morning.
It was part of a nationwide #StudentBlackOut movement, following students at the University of Missouri protesting and eventually forcing the school's president to resign over his failure to address race issues on campus.
The Towson students tweeted and live-streamed their protest using the hashtag #OccupyTowson.
The students wrote that they had endured oppressive conditions at Towson, including "egg shells and racial slurs being thrown out of windows; racial slurs being shouted at house parties; sexual and racial epithets from classroom professors; lack of representation in black faculty on the tenure track; lack of cultural competency in our peers and professors; the discontinuation of the Towson Debate Team; etc., etc."
The document listed the demands and ended with a pledge for Chandler: "I am acknowledging that in the event that I do not keep my promise and begin to address these concerns, I will resign as president of this University for failing to effectively represent black students."
Chandler, who signed it about 12:40 a.m., said the discussion was "long and quite difficult" but "very fruitful."
"This is what universities are supposed to do. We are supposed to help students express their opinions and find solutions to problems as they see them," he said. "I'm extraordinarily proud of this group of students, who want to make this a better place, not just for them, for all of us."