More than 1,000 students, professors and staff at Yale University gathered on Wednesday to discuss race and diversity at the elite Ivy League school, amid a wave of demonstrations at U.S. colleges over the treatment of minority students.
The forum, originally scheduled to be held at the school’s African-American Cultural Center, was moved to Yale’s largest chapel, Battell Chapel, to accommodate the overflowing crowd.
The discussion came two days after about 1,000 students briefly shut down traffic around the university in a rally to protest against an alleged Halloween incident in which a fraternity turned away black guests from a party.
It also follows Monday’s resignation by University of Missouri President Tim Wolfe amid student complaints that the school did not take allegations of racial abuse on campus seriously. Small-scale protests and walkouts in sympathy with the Missouri students have also taken place at universities across the United States this week.
The protests build on the “Black Lives Matter” movement, which was involved in massive and sometimes violent demonstrations in cities including Ferguson, Missouri, and Baltimore over police killings of black men.
This week’s university protests have largely been peaceful, though police in Missouri on Wednesday arrested two white men on suspicion of making online threats against black people.
The Yale forum participants called for improved education and awareness, with some voicing allegations of bias affecting minorities, women and the LGBT community.
“I am a black gay male and know very well that we must confront the racism, sexism and homophobia that is very much alive at Yale and has harmed so many,” said Jafari Allen, an associate professor of African American studies and anthropology.
“My students have told me of the injustices they have suffered.”
Elisia Ceballo-Countryman, a sophomore and board member of the Black Student Alliance, said, “There has been a lot of insensitivity and an ignoring of the diversity that exists on this campus, and that has to change.”
Yale University President Peter Salovey said he planned action to end racial tensions at the Connecticut school.
“We cannot overstate the importance we put on our community’s diversity, and the need to increase it, support it, and respect it,” Salovey said in a statement. “We know we have work to do.”