IUPUI Students and Staff "Walk Out" in Hope of a Sanctuary Campus

More than 150 people came to together to peacefully “walk out” of class to show their support for minorities on IUPUI’s campus, and to ask IUPUI’s Chancellor Nasser Paydar to sign a petition making IUPUI a “sanctuary campus.”

IUPUI was one of nearly 100 colleges nationwide that staged a walkout on Wednesday. Indiana University-Bloomington, University of Notre Dame, and DePauw University were a few of the other Indiana based colleges that participated in the walkout.

The nationwide walkouts were started by the organization, Cosecha. Its hope of creating sanctuary campuses is a play on the term “sanctuary city.” In a sanctuary city, undocumented people are protected from being deported while living illegally in the country. The hope for a sanctuary campus is that the school would not turn over information about undocumented students and staff to authorities, and would do everything in its power to protect all of its minority students and staff.

IUPUI’s walkout comes a few days after fliers with hate speech were posted around IUPUI’s campus. Hector Morales, the organizer of the walkout, wanted to address this situation head-on.  

“Our group decided to start the walkout on Tuesday afternoon around 1p.m.,” Morales said. “We decided to do this to show our support for all the minorities on our campus. We would like for the chancellor to get back to us as soon as possible on the steps he is willing to take to protect our minorities like African-Americans, who were targeted in those fliers posted around school in the past couple of days.”

The event started with 20 or so people gathered in Taylor Courtyard. Some people were preparing and holding signs, others passed around fliers with information, and a few people talked to one another as they waited for the event to start. As 3 p.m. neared, the crowd grew and a few speakers took turns talking about their own personal experiences with discrimination, and the importance of the walkout and standing in solidarity on campus.

The message of solidarity was one that resonated through the crowd, and was a reason that many people decided to participate in the walkout.

“Firsthand, I’ve experienced a lot of hate speech written on the walls of Democracy Plaza, photos of Muhammad doing obscene things, and some vulgarity regarding different minority groups,” management major Quentin Oliver said. “I’ve seen stickers posted by a white fascist group here on campus, and I stand in solidarity with minorities and anyone who faces any sort of oppression. I hope that people start talking about these issues a little more, and that they stop pretending that racism and hate aren’t problems.”

Following the speeches, a march started from Taylor Courtyard, passed under the Business/Spea Building, and reached Michigan Street between the Engineering Technology Building and the North Street parking garage. The group of students and staff chanted, “Love, not hate, makes America great,” and, “Hey, hey, ho, ho, discrimination has to go,” as they marched up Michigan Street towards University Boulevard.

Junior Aniqua Chatman was carrying a sign that read, “Where do you stand? We stand together.” Her reasons for joining the walkout were similar to Oliver’s.

“I’m a big believer in solidarity. There will be times where I don’t necessarily believe that my people will be affected, but there are other people that will. I feel like if we need someone to stand up for our fights, then we need to stand up for theirs as well,” Chatman said. “And right now, we need to know that IUPUI is behind its students. That they don’t stand for the things that were said during the election.”

As the group turned on University Boulevard and made its way towards and into University Hall, chants of “Say it loud, say it clear, refugees are welcomed here,” and, “No hate in our state,” were yelled as the group entered the building and marched to Chancellor Paydar’s fifth floor office.

Once there, Morales handed the petition to the chancellor to sign. Many people in the cramped room wanted it to be signed on sight, and even yelled “We want action,” but Chancellor Paydar insisted on needing time to review it before moving forward.

Even though it wasn’t the exact outcome that many people wanted, there was still cheering and applause as the crowd spilled out of the building and back onto the street. It was clear that the support for those targeted by hate speech and other forms of discrimination is strong on IUPUI’s campus.

“All these people, no matter what race, color, religion, ethnicity, background of any sort, we’re all in this country together,” IUPUI student Zach Horner said. “And we need to be standing in solidarity with all those groups that are at risk for prosecution. Especially with the future we might be looking at here in America.”