LINCOLN UNIVERSITY, Pa.—On Saturday, Nov. 15, Lincoln University students held a silent protest outside of the university’s Board of Trustees Meeting held in the University’s International Cultural Center.
Over 50 students gathered early Saturday morning outside of the trustees meeting, after the meeting room reached capacity, with posters stating “Our Voice Doesn’t Matter,” using the hashtag #UnSilenceOurVoice, in retaliation to the recent headlines circulating of the university’s president, Robert R. Jennings, and the recent faculty Vote of No-Confidence in Jennings.
During the opening statements of the meeting, the board released a statement of support, stating that it collectively agreed to remain in support of Jennings, and had applauded him for his accomplishments in bringing the university to its current state. The board also reassured they would continue to review the university’s current state and its current president in a thorough investigation.
Thembisile Gxuluwe, a sophomore of the university, along with other students stated that Jennings, in fact, was not the university’s major problem.
“These issues [some are wanting to address] are long awaited issues; these issues were here long before Jennings got here,” said Gxuluwe. “Getting Jennings out won’t simply fix these issues. So us protesting isn’t us trying to slander him or make him leave because we can’t afford that. It’s to let our voices be heard.
While some students attended Saturday’s meeting in all black with their mouths covered in tape, other students chose to speak up and refute the actions of their peers.
“I feel like a lot of people are distracted,” stated Shaheem Sabor, a junior at The Lincoln University and President of the university activist group, Black Men in America. “I feel like a lot of people are set by trends, taping their mouths, wearing all black, and that’s all cool but we’ve got to start taking actions [as students].”
The Mighty Lion Chapter of Groove Phi Groove Social Fellowship, Inc. Chapter President, Eloheem Ali, a senior, argued that the real problem students were facing wasn’t their unheard voices, but the lack of communication between each other.
“It’s real easy for a bunch of people to follow a leader of whoever to demonstrate their ‘voicelessness’,” stated Ali. “The real problem is unity between the students and communication between the students because at the end of the day….we have the most control in this situation and have the power to [solve our issues].”
Saturday’s student protest comes after a previous town hall meeting, held by the university’s Student Government Association last Wednesday, where students agreed to vote on a Vote of Confidence in the university.
“A voting ballot will be sent to the students, via their Lincoln email, addressing whether or not they have faith in the direction this university is going,” Student Government Association Executive Secretary, Olutoyin Olowookere said. “It’s important that the student voice is heard.”
However, some students believe that there is an uncertainty in what the desire of the student body may be.
“I don’t think anybody knows what they want; everybody’s just feeling all this confusion and anger,” argued Tiana Spencer, a sophomore. “Half of the people don’t even want to speak; they don’t even know what they’re here for…but they want change. “
Shamsiddin Lother, a senior, stressed the importance of students understanding the urgency of fighting for the direction of the university, instead of fighting to fire Jennings.
“It’s bigger than just the president and we must let our voice be heard, but let our actions speak louder than our words,” stated Lother. “This is a legacy, this is [our] life. It’s about the university; it’s about the direction of the university. We’re in an identity crisis. It’s important that we are known and that we allow ourselves to be outspoken.”
The Student Government Association is set to release a statement on behalf of the students by the end of this week.