Black Student Protest at Brown: 50 Years Ago and Today

December 6, 2018

Fifty years after black students walked out of classes at Brown University to demand that it increase their numbers, black students did the same thing on Wednesday. More than 100 students left classes and some issued a list of demands, including that the university go test optional in admissions and admit the same share of black students as are found in the population of the United States. Black people make up about 12 percent of the U.S. population and 7 percent of the Brown student body. The students also demanded that all notes from meetings of the Brown University board be made public, more funding for black organizations on campus and the establishment of free for-credit courses at Brown for university employees and those who live in Providence, R.I.

Christina Paxson, president of Brown, released a statement saying that the university would strive to continue to become more diverse. But she also said some of the student demands were not possible. For example, she noted the "legal framework -- established and upheld by the Supreme Court numerous times over the past 40 years -- that prevents universities from setting numerical quotas or racial balancing for the admission of students of different racial and ethnic groups."

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