A group of developmentally delayed students who were visiting Lebanon Valley College (LVC) in Pennsylvania were whisked away by their parents from the school’s dining hall when a group of student protesters, demanding a more inclusive campus and sensitivity training for faculty, began shouting obscenities.
According to PennLive, LVC student Andrew Meglathery reported that about 25 students dressed entirely in black delivered their demands while yelling obscenities, a scene that led the visiting disabled students and their parents to leave immediately.
“The parents quickly gathered their kids and left,” Meglathery said. “I thought (the demonstrators) had a good message. But I was disappointed with the lack of awareness of their audience. Their delivery could have been better.”
College spokesman Tom Hanrahan confirmed there was a group of “developmentally delayed” students who visited the campus and were in the cafeteria when the protest began. He said the students left once the protest started and admitted “the language could have caused this.”
Ironically, LVC student protesters said the college must address “institutional injustices,” which they claim have long affected minorities, women, the disabled, LGBTQ students, and more.
“We are here to stop the marginalization by changing the institution,” student Cara Breslin said.
Tamara Baldwin, president of LVC’s Black Student Union, said her group hopes to “level the playing field, for all marginalized people on campus,” to “make sure their voices are heard and that all the things they are lacking on campus are acknowledged.”
The protesters represented African-American, Latino, Asian, and Native American students at LVC, as they participated in the demonstration last week in the school’s cafeteria during the lunch hour. One student reportedly stood on a chair and used a bullhorn to get students’ attention as they demanded a more inclusive and diverse campus and sensitive faculty.
Hanrahan released the following statement from LVC:
Dr. Lewis E. Thayne, president of LVC, continues to lead campus efforts to develop a comprehensive, long-term strategy to incorporate inclusive excellence throughout all areas of the LVC experience. Dr. Thayne has met extensively with student leaders, faculty, administrators, staff, and the senior leadership team to address these concerns and plan for creating a more inclusive campus.
Dr. Thayne will address the campus community regarding this comprehensive plan at the College’s third annual Symposium on Inclusive Excellence on Jan. 21. This will occur as part of the regularly scheduled activities planned for the day.”
Student demands—which were immediately handed to Thayne following a forum on Friday—included sensitivity training for faculty, recognition of various disabilities and gender identities, and calls for a more diverse curriculum. Students also demanded the removal or altering of the name “Lynch” in the college’s “Lynch Memorial Hall” because of the word’s racial undertones.