Author: Siraj Hashmi
Things got heated during a meeting between Black Lives Matter protesters and W. Taylor Reveley III, the President of the College of William & Mary, on Wednesday at the president’s office.
The entire meeting, which was livestreamed on Facebook, was meant to address the concerns and issues that students of color face on campus, particularly in an increasingly polarized environment. However, the activists had a list of demands of the president, which he did not take kindly to.
“I don’t deal in demands,” Reveley told the BLM activists. “I don’t make demands of other people. I don’t expect to receive demands from people. I love to get suggestions, recommendations, strong arguments. … When you approach other people with a demand, instead of their ears opening and their spirit being unusually receptive, you get defensive walls erected. So I think you all need to think about it.”
One student interjected saying they “disagree” with the president on the word “suggestions” and that they mean to say they’re not “necessary.”
“No, no, no, that’s not the way the world works,” Reveley shot back. “It is not effective, in my opinion, to approach other people and say ‘we demand’ unless you have the capacity to demand.”
Another student from the group “Built on Our Backs” explained that because students pay tuition, they can demand anything they want. “We are students, and we pay tuition to be here. That is the reason why we are able to write these demands.”
Erica West, a student at W&M who sat in on the meeting, posted to Facebook afterwards that their confrontation with President Reveley is what “speaking truth to power” looks like.
“This is what being censored looks like. This is what white supremacy looks like. This is what patriarchy looks like. This is what condescension looks like. This is what being told “you, your issues and your life don’t matter” looks like. THIS is why we say #BlackLivesMatter.”
Watch the full livestreamed meeting below:
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