SAN DIEGO (CBS 8/AP) - San Diego State University students gathered Thursday to march in solidarity with activists at the University of Missouri over the administration's handling of racial complaints.
Some SDSU students marched through campus Thursday, saying "racism lives here" and accused campus police and administration of incidents of racial profiling and harassment. However, campus officials say there have been no documented complaints of racial bias from January 2014 to the present.
"People seem to think that racism does not exist or it's no longer an issue or it's more covert. The racism we face here in California and San Diego and San Diego State isn't the blatant racism that they're facing at Mizzou, but the hurtful things, it's the small things like students being harassed by campus officers," said Ashley Haughton, Association of Africana Studies Majors & Minors.
SDSU Police said they have not received any complaints of racial bias in two years.
Still, some students believe the administration could do more to encourage cultural understanding.
"There's a lack of understanding between cultures on campus, and college being a place where a lot of different cultures come together,a lot of people come here not being aware of different cultures that exist here," said Arnelle Sambile, Student Diversity Commissioner.
SDSU students form circle and are pushing for unity among student groups pic.twitter.com/ihwxDibZYc— Brandon Lewis (@BrandonCBS8) November 12, 2015
Students say they are protesting incidents of racial profiling and racial harassment by SDSU Police and administration.— Brandon Lewis (@BrandonCBS8) November 12, 2015
The rally held on the SDSU campus Thursday comes in wake of a wave of student activism at the University of Missouri's flagship campus in Columbia, Missouri. The University of Missouri's governing board on Thursday appointed one of its first black law school graduates to be the university system's interim president, and he vowed to address the frustrations behind student-led protests that helped force his predecessor from office.
Michael Middleton, 68, cited his 30 years at the university, where he was an undergraduate before attending its law school and going on to be a faculty member and administrator.
Middleton takes over for Tim Wolfe, who abruptly resigned on Monday amid student-led protests over his administration's handling of racial complaints.
Middleton had been working part-time with the campus' chancellor, R. Bowen Loftin, on a plan to increase inclusion and diversity at the school. Loftin also announced Monday he was stepping down at the end of the year and would take another position at the school, but the governing board said in a statement Thursday that the timeline had been accelerated and that the interim chancellor, Hank Foley, has already assumed the role.
The resignations came after 30 black members of the football team gave a big boost to the protest movement by vowing not to take part in team activities until Wolfe was gone.
MU Policy Now, a student group made up of graduate and professional students, had been pushing for Middleton's appointment.
"Given the recent turmoil, Deputy Chancellor Emeritus Middleton is a strong transitional figure," the group wrote in a letter of endorsement posted on its Facebook page and sent to curators. Several student organizations signed the recommendation letter, including the Legion of Black Collegians.
Middleton has a bachelor's degree from Missouri and became one of the first black graduates of the law school in 1971. He worked with the federal government in Washington and was a trial attorney in the Department of Justice Civil Rights Division before joining the university law faculty in 1985.
He also helped found the Legion of Black Collegians, a student group involved in the current protest, and himself participated in previous campus protests for civil rights and against the Vietnam War.
He was interim vice provost for minority affairs and faculty development starting in 1997, and a year later was named deputy chancellor.
In that role, he was credited with turning women's studies and black studies programs into their own departments.
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