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WSU students plan march following Charlottesville violence

UPDATED: Thu., Aug. 17, 2017

FILE - WSU student Orion Welch, left, talks to James Allsup during the WSU College Republicans Trump Wall demonstration and Unity Rally counter protest  on the WSU campus, Oct. 19, 2016. (Colin Mulvany / The Spokesman-Review)
FILE - WSU student Orion Welch, left, talks to James Allsup during the WSU College Republicans Trump Wall demonstration and Unity Rally counter protest on the WSU campus, Oct. 19, 2016. (Colin Mulvany / The Spokesman-Review)

Washington State University students are planning to march on campus Saturday in response to the weekend mayhem in Charlottesville, Virginia.

They also are demanding changes in university policy to curb discrimination.

One of the organizers, third-year student Lashae Daniels, said she’s dissatisfied with WSU President Kirk Schulz’s handling of recent events, including a student rally for Donald Trump in October and the dissemination of a racist video in May.

Daniels, who is black, and several other students were shown in that video arguing with a white man wearing a “Make America Great Again” hat and T-shirt at the October rally.

James Allsup, who resigned this week as president of the WSU College Republicans, has said he shot that footage on his cellphone and uploaded it to YouTube with the title “Getting Educated by Black Lives Matter.” The footage was later edited to include racist commentary and depictions, including the words “Maybe you should go back to Africa.”

Allsup has said the footage was used without his permission and that he played no role in creating the edited version. Schulz promised a thorough investigation, but WSU police were unable to find the person responsible.

“They exhausted all their leads,” said Phil Weiler, the university’s vice president for marketing and communications.

Schulz also launched a formal effort to improve the social climate at WSU and responded forcefully to the video in a letter published on the university’s website. He regularly responds to campus controversies on Twitter.

Daniels and other students are demanding that the university assemble a committee of advisers and faculty members to enforce a code of conduct for student clubs, such as the College Republicans.

“I want to ensure that we don’t give people a platform to spread hate,” Daniels said.

Other students, meanwhile, say the WSU administration has taken tangible steps to address issues of diversity and speech.

Jordan Frost, president of the Associated Students of WSU, said students have been working with the university’s vice president for student affairs, Mary Jo Gonzales, to develop a “peer-built curriculum on diversity.”

But, Frost said, progress will take time.

“We recognize this is a problem and are talking about it constantly and trying to be proactive,” he said.

Shane Reynolds, president of WSU’s Graduate and Professional Student Association, added: “On these things, I think we’re headed in the right direction. This is not an echo chamber.”

Saturday’s march is scheduled to begin at 5 p.m. at Beasley Colliseum in Pullman. Daniels said organizers are working with Pullman police to ensure a safe route toward downtown. As of Wednesday evening, more than 130 people indicated they would participate in the march on Facebook.

During the rally in October, hundreds of Trump supporters and counterprotesters, most of them college students, converged on WSU’s Glenn Terrell Mall.

This story was changed on Aug. 8, 2017. In the previous version, one reference to the Donald Trump rally stated the wrong month in which it occurred.

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