Campus community supports students in act of solidarity

Kerong Kelly, News Editor

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Update: Dean Susan Lantz agrees to allow Ella Johnson to finish the remainder of the Spring 2014 semester. 

In an act of solidarity, over 100 students, professors, and members of the administration gathered in front of Dean of Students Susan Lantz’s office in protest of the expulsion of first-year student Ella Johnson on April 9.

Johnson, a member of the Silhouettes, the female a capella group on campus, a Posse scholar, and an involved member of the community, was asked to leave the University and withdraw from classes within a 48-hour time period due to not fulfilling the requirements of her Posse scholarship.

Johnson had previously made a verbal agreement with a member of the administration about her situation involving Psychological Services on campus. With just three weeks before the end of the spring semester, the University told Johnson that she had to leave within 48 hours, even before consulting her parents. The sit-in, organized by Lakiyra “Oompa” Williams ’14 on Facebook through an event called “Operation Keep Ella Here,” gathered instantaneous student and faculty support.

Supporters of the sit-in then moved into the Elaine Langone Center Forum in order to discuss systematic issues and goals related to race and socioeconomic diversity at the University. Among the diverse student body, administrators such as Associate Dean of Students Amy Badal, Dean of Students for Diversity Thomas Alexander, Associate Dean of Arts & Sciences Mary Breyfogle, Associate Professor of Women’s and Gender Studies Coralynn Davis, and Professor of Linguistics James Lavine, were also in attendance.

In the gathering that occurred while friends and supporters awaited the University’s resolution, students led a discussion about the inconsistency in expulsion guidelines, the lack of cultural sensitivity among professors and staff, and the dichotomy between what diversity looks like from outside the University and how that notion differs on campus.

After an hour-long discussion, Johnson announced that the University had allowed her to stay until April 13 and to perform at the Silhouettes’ spring concert.

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