INCITES Anniversary: What’s Changed?

On Feb. 3, 2016, a group of Emory & Henry students met on the steps of Wiley Hall to protest exclusion, racism, discrimination and harassment against students, faculty and staff. This group was named INCITES.

Throughout the course of their demonstration, the group shared personal stories of discrimination on campus, chanted the phrase “Deeds Not Words” with other attending students, and had a faculty member read the INCITES list of deeds that the school needed to undertake in order to solve the proposed issues.

This year John Holloway, Vice President of Student Life and Student Success and Dean of Inclusion, made reference to the INCITES protest during his MLK Keynote Address, which also served as his introductory speech to the Emory & Henry campus. When asked for further comment on the effect that INCITES has had on his view of the campus, Holloway admitted that the INCITES demonstration had influenced him in taking on his new role at E&H.

“When I was applying for the position, I saw reports of what was happening on the campus front and center. And it became a part of questions that I asked,” said Holloway.
Prior to accepting his position at Emory & Henry, Holloway said that he set aside time to meet with students involved in organizing INCITES. However, he reported that none of the students showed.

“I was hoping to see those students,” Holloway said. “It really breaks my heart,” he said, in reference to the vandalism and circumstances surrounding the INCITES protest. “You only get one undergraduate experience.”

Ana Rampy, a student co-organizer of the original INCITES demonstration that took place last year, said that she was not contacted by Holloway or the school to meet with him. She also said that she wasn’t aware if any other students had met with him.

According to Rampy, Holloway’s position at E&H as Dean of Inclusion is one of the original INCITES demands that were made last year. However, Dean Holloway’s position has not been formally accredited by the College to INCITES. To Rampy, this lack of accreditation is a tactic by Emory & Henry to delegitimize the group.

The original document of the INCITES demands does call for a “Director of Inclusion” to be hired by a “multicultural task force,” which the document states should be assembled by President Schrum and the Human Resources Department. This demand is listed under Deed 3 of the original document.

In regards to his plans for encouraging change on campus, Dean Holloway referenced the meeting that he’d just had with Josh Von Castle, Area Coordinator and Director of Student Activities, about working with marginalized groups at E&H. He emphasized the importance of providing support for these groups and helping them to support each other.
“I am trying to put the pieces back together again and figure out how I can make a difference with students, staff and faculty,” Holloway said.

According to an article by the Atlantic titled Why Street Protests Don’t Work, demonstrations often fail because they do not have clear leadership or specific goals. INCITES certainly had student leadership and a clear list of goals—or deeds—but were they successful?

While several of the original INCITES deeds have been achieved, such as the appointment of a Dean of Inclusion or “Director of Inclusion,” the College has yet to officially accredit these actions to the actions of INCITES.

Student response to the INCITES demonstration in 2016 was also increasingly negative, especially on social media such as Yik Yak. In one Yak, INCITES was described by one student as “a group that maliciously bullies people for not agreeing with their ‘diversity’ agenda.”

While faculty like Dean Holloway continue to consider INCITES as the College moves into 2017, the lasting effects of the student-led demonstration remain to be seen. New institutions on campus, such as the Inclusion and Dialogue Center , may signal change on campus.

– Orion Rummler

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