“Walk Out Against Hate” event held at Westfield State University

A student reported being physically, verbally assaulted on campus last week

WESTFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – Tears of frustration and pleas for change at Westfield State University Tuesday.

Hundreds of students and faculty members walked out of class in response to recent racial incidents. The walkout was organized by Westfield State University’s Education Department.

22News first told you about the issues in September, when a racial slur was written on the door of a black student’s dorm room. At least two other incidents have been reported since then.

Many of the students and faculty members who showed up to Tuesday’s walkout said their goal was to call attention to an issue that they believe has progressively gotten worse on campus.

Angela Riley is a freshman at WSU. She told 22News, she no longer feels safe on campus. “I feel like they could do so much more to make us feel safe, more security or security cameras, anything to make us feel safer.”

Associate Professor of Education Laura Baker told 22News, she wants to see the university alter course content, to reflect more of an atmosphere of inclusion. “It is not a major part of all courses on this campus, and it has to be at the center of the work at this university.”

Westfield State University said they’ll review the demands voiced at the rally, and work with students and faculty to make improvements.

The University sent 22News the following statement:

Racially charged incidents continue at Westfield State University

Westfield State University investigating assault on campus

FULL STATEMENT FROM WESTFIELD STATE UNIVERSITY

 Faculty, staff, and students today demonstrated their commitment to diversity and unity at Westfield State University by setting aside their academic work and joining with each other to call for an end to the hateful acts that we have seen on campus.  The university administration is equally dispirited and disheartened by these acts and is working aggressively both to apprehend those responsible and to create a more civilized and tolerant campus.

We are making progress on a comprehensive set of initiatives that are described on the university’s website.  We are not alone at Westfield State, as college and university campuses across the nation are dealing with similar acts, yet that in no way minimizes our commitment to create a better climate on campus over the coming months and years.  This is a long-term initiative that we intend will make our campus a model for diversity and unity.  We will review the demands made at the rally by faculty, staff, and students and will seek to work with them in meeting them, where possible.  We will continue to offer our students and campus community every resource that we can to support them during this time.”