Brandeis students say they won’t leave administrative building until the school meets their demands

A group of students posed for a photograph inside the hallway that leads to the President's office which they are currently occupying at Brandeis University as they demand more diversity.
A group of students posed for a photograph inside the hallway that leads to the President's office which they are currently occupying at Brandeis University as they demand more diversity. –Jessica Rinaldi/The Boston Globe

On Monday morning, the giant sheet of paper in the window of the Bernstein-Marcus Administrative Center on Brandeis’s campus had more than 70 tallymarks — one for each hour students have occupied the building.

The sit-in began Friday after a group of several hundred students called #ConcernedStudents2015 said the university’s interim president, Lisa Lynch, failed to address 13 concerns pertaining to racial equality they outlined in a letter sent to her Thursday. The name of the group was inspired by the activist group at the University of Missouri, #ConcernedStudent1950, which takes its name from the first year black students were admitted to Mizzou.

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The students at Brandeis said they won’t leave the building until Lynch addresses their demands, which include a 10 percent increase in the number of full-time black faculty in all departments, curriculum that would increase racial awareness and inclusion, the appointment of a Vice President of Diversity and Inclusion, annual diversity workshops for faculty, and an office that would investigate student complaints against faculty and staff, to name a few.

Bill Schaller, a spokesman for the university, didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment from Boston.com about whether or when the university will respond to the demands.

Over the past four days, the group has uploaded a number of videos to its Twitter feed where students explain why they’re taking part in the demonstration.

“I am Ford Hall 2015 because being safe and represented at school should not be a privilege,’’ said one student, who was interviewed while sitting on the floor of the building.

Another said, “I am Ford Hall 2015 because our narratives need to be told, the university needs to be kept accountable for taking care of minority students, specifically black students, and I am Ford Hall 2015 because this has been done before and can be done again.’’

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In 2014, the university had a student population that was 48 percent white, 5 percent black, 6 percent Hispanic, and 13 percent Asian, according to its website.

Thanksgiving break begins for students on Wednesday, but on Monday morning, half of the group stayed inside the building chanting “hell no, we won’t go,’’ while others stood outside with posters that read “We will not be moved,’’ “#FordHall2015,’’ and “This is not a drill.’’

By Monday afternoon, the demonstration had expanded to the school of social policy.

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