Faculty at Ithaca College plan to hold a “teach-in” Thursday to call for college president Tom Rochon’s resignation. It’s the latest in a string of protests by faculty and students.
Protesters say Tom Rochon has failed to address a threatening racial climate on campus, and several racist incidents. They also accuse him of top-down leadership, saying he makes strategic decisions for the college without campus input.
“I don’t think the morale has ever been lower among the faculty,” says professor Mary Bentley, who plans to speak at Thursday’s teach-in, “But at the same time, I have to say that I think a lot of the activism on the part of the students has really reinvigorated us.”
Ithaca College students staged a walkout last week. They are calling for Rochon to resign over similar concerns. Bentley says they made her realize she should have acted sooner.
“Quite frankly, a lot of the problems with Tom Rochon have been because we’ve been complacent,” she says.
Faculty begin a confidence vote on Rochon on November 30. Results from a student vote come out that day. In response to the protests, Rochon has appointed a Chief Diversity Officer and started cultural competency workshops, among other efforts. He wrote a letter to the editor of the Chronicle of Higher Education Monday saying college leaders need to “step up, not step down” in the face of protests.