Aisha Ferdinand feels betrayed.

The Brooklyn, New York, native chose to attend Franklin & Marshall College because of its rich diversity. But so far during her freshman year, Ferdinand said she’s encountered a “crazy” amount of racism.

“It just seems like I’ve been lied to,” she said.

Ferdinand was among a large crowd of students and faculty members who gathered on campus Friday morning to protest racist behavior at the college and the administration’s apparent lack of action.

Protesters were outraged over photos that circulated on social media of a group of students — said to be members of the men’s basketball and soccer teams — wearing culturally offensive costumes.

The costumes embodied Asian, Hispanic and African stereotypes.

Students shared emotionally charged stories of racism they’ve encountered at F&M and expressed frustration over how the college has handled complaints.

“We need more than benches. We need more than sitting out one damn game,” said sophomore Theliah Hutson. “We need change. And change starts now.”

Hutson is a member of the college’s African and Caribbean Association and SISTERS — Sophisticated, Intelligent Sisters Teaching Excellence, Responsibility and Success — club.

Speakers cited the controversial photos and other incidents, such as racist graffiti being scrawled on a dorm room door last month that targeted the Asian community.

“This is urgent,” Vi Bui, a junior and president of the Asian American Alliance, said. “We need structural change, and we also need consequences for these students.”

‘They’re good people’

A few college administrators spoke at the rally. One of them was athletic director Patricia Epps, who said while she appreciated the students speaking up, the college is handling the situation internally.

College provost Cam Wesson explained his eagerness to learn more about F&M’s culture and how it can improve, saying he would clear his schedule Thursday and Friday to hear student concerns.

The college has previously announced it was conducting a campus climate survey until Nov. 15, hiring a director of diversity, equity and inclusion and creating a bias reporting system to go live in the spring 2020 semester.

The men’s soccer coach, Dan Wagner, attended but was interrupted several times when he defended his students.

“I know these guys,” he said. “And they’re good people.”

The crowd, meanwhile, interjected, "Hold them responsible!"

The soccer coach asked the impassioned group to remain civil, saying his players have received death threats.

The men’s basketball interim head coach, Nick Nichay, did not make an appearance. Longtime coach Glenn Robinson retired Tuesday.

A handful of basketball players attended, however.

An apology

Junior Justin Kupa apologized on the team’s behalf, calling the actions of his teammates “stupid” and “ignorant.” He said his team is willing to meet with student leaders to discuss how to move forward.

“They need to see who they affected and what they caused,” he said before someone in the crowd shouted, “Where they at now?”

Kupa responded that they were advised not to come.

At Friday’s home basketball game against York College, F&M students staged a sit-in after the national anthem that kept the game from being played.

Holding small handmade signs, including ones that read “My culture is not a costume,” and “Do better,” the more than 300 students sat quietly on the court for 10 minutes until an announcement was made that the game was being canceled.

That decision was initially met with boos from the crowd at Mayser Gymnasium, although those were quickly drowned out by cheers from the students on the court.

The game was listed on York College’s website as “postponed,” which means it will be played later.

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