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Occidental College says it will agree to 13 of 14 demands of student protestors

In Eagle Rock, California, Occidental College's Thorne Hall.
In Eagle Rock, California, Occidental College's Thorne Hall.
victoriabernal/Flickr (Creative Commons-licensed)

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The chairman of Occidental College's board of trustees, along with the school's president and Dean of Faculty said Thursday they would agree to 13 of the 14 demands of hundreds of protestors who have occupied the college's administration building since Monday to bring attention to what they perceive as racial injustice on the Eagle Rock campus.

However, the protestors say they are not satisfied by the college's response, because of the one demand that was not met: removing the president of Occidental, Jonathan Veitch.

"We believe that the only way forward is to remove Jonathan Veitch from his presidency, as he has not and will not be successful in making Occidental a more diverse, welcoming, and inclusive institution," the protestors, who call themselves Oxy United for Black Liberation, said in a written statement.

In their letter to the college community, Veitch and Chris Calkins, chairman of the board, noted 42 percent of Occidental students are of color – an increase from 36 percent in 2009 – and that the college ranks sixth in faculty diversity among the top 50 liberal arts colleges, citing statistics from the Chronicle of Higher Education.

But Veitch and Calkins said they wanted to make Occidental more inclusive, so they would accept most of the protestors' demands, including promoting the chief diversity officer, hiring an associate professor of African American studies, and increasing funding for African American student groups.

"We have heard the pain experienced by our students and witnessed their courage in sharing these experiences," Veitch and Calkins said in the letter. "We also have heard and are prepared to respond to their calls for change."

Veitch told KPCC earlier this week he has no intention to resign.

"I am committed to this institution, I believe in this institution, I want to be part of the solution for it," said Veitch.

(Southern California Public Radio's president and CEO, Bill Davis, is a member of Occidental College's Board of Trustees.)