Update: Earlier versions of this article incorrectly stated that the Student Government Association (SGA) supported the protest against Mac Donald. Although some members of SGA participated in the protest, they did so in their capacity as students, not as SGA representatives, as the official SGA stance was to remain impartial.
Ethan Bachand ‘22
Chief News Editor
During a talk by Heather Mac Donald in Seelos Theater on November 18, College of the Holy Cross students walked out in protest over her views on diversity on college campuses. The protest was led and organized by the Black Student Union.
Heather Mac Donald, the author of The Diversity Delusion, is a fellow at the Manhattan Institute as well as a New York Times Best Selling Author. The aforementioned book was the topic of her talk at Holy Cross.
Slated to start at 7:00 p.m., doors opened an hour early for the event in order to accommodate high demand for seats. Students who planned to participate in the protest showed up as early as possible, with times being communicated through a GroupMe group chat established by the Black Student Union. As a result, a wide majority of the seats were taken by student planning on walking out.
Eventually, public safety officers on site shut the doors due to capacity limits set by the fire department. Chief of Public Safety Shawn DeJong, along with other officers, stood in the doorway, turning away anyone else who tried to enter. Students who still wanted to see the lecture waited outside in the rain on the staircase next to Kimball Dining Hall.
At around 7:30 p.m., students stood up and proceeded out of the theater. Walking past fellow students who were still attempting to get in, the protesters filed up the stairs. After gathering for a brief moment on the Kimball Quad, the group headed up to The Hub in Hogan basement.
Speaking to The Spire directly after the walkout, when asked about the desire to protest the event, BSU Co-President Feleicia Jeter ‘20 said: “We really just wanted to execute this because we knew that it is not an illusion: our experiences on this campus, whether it is race, sexuality, whatever it is, whatever orientation we have isn’t a delusion. We know that we needed to stand in solidarity and unity . . . We just couldn’t stand alone. The fact that we pulled this off is actually amazing. I feel so empowered now, and this is just the beginning. This is the start of something more.”
In terms of organizing the walkout, Jeter said: “At first it was through the Black Student Union email, but […] it became if you were in the GroupMe and knew people who want to be a part of it, they could be a part of it. The GroupMe went from 20 people to 300.”
Additionally, Jeter added: “We started last week when we found out she was coming, so we actually had a few discussions beforehand. We were trying to expose ourselves to the language that she would be using. As we were down there, we knew that doors were opening at 6:00 p.m., and we knew that everybody in the GroupMe had to get down there as soon as possible so that we could fill every seat possible so she could see that it’s not just race, it’s not just sexuality, this is an everybody experience.”
The walkout certainly sent a powerful message, and only time will tell what other changes this movement will see.