NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ - About 30 students brandished signs, chanted slogans and spoke out against racism at the state university and beyond its walls at a rally organized by the Rutgers chapter of the NAACP.
From the steps of Brower Commons, several speakers took turns calling for unity, their voices rising above the din of buses moving up and down College Avenue during the afternoon rush hour.
Some speakers voiced their outrage, others put their frustrations into poems and read them out loud.
Others led chants of "Hey, hey. Ho, ho. Racism has got to go" and "The people united will never be divided" in a sing-and-response style with a group of about 100 students that assembled to watch the rally.
The rally was inspired in part by the events of the past several weeks on the campus of Syracuse University, said Bryan Matthew, one of the event organizers and one of the speakers during the rain-soaked rally.
At Syracuse, racist graffiti was found around campus starting Nov. 7. Within days, racist graffiti against Asians was discovered in a school building and swastika was discovered carved into some snow, according to Syracuse.com.
After a few other incidents around campus, the happenings at Syracuse began to receive national media attention on Nov. 16 when a black woman reported that someone shouted the n-word at her as she walked on a main road on campus.
The next day, Syracuse Chancellor Kent Syverud suspended the Alpha Chi Rho fraternity and suspended all social activities at all fraternities on campus.
The outrage spread across social media, where #NotAgain and #NotAgainSU became a rallying cry.
Beyond that, what connected the incidents at Syracuse to Tuesday's rally was the fact that, according to Syverud, the most aggressive actor in the Nov. 16 incident is a Rutgers student.
A Rutgers spokesman confirmed the school was looking into whether that student violated the school’s code of conduct, which applies both on and off campus. The spokesman also clarified the Rutgers student in question attends the New Brunswick campus, according to a report published by The Daily Targum.
Syracuse student's outrage was heard at Rutgers, where members of the NAACP, the Rutgers chapter of Black Lives Matter, African-American members of student government and other students joined together Tuesday. The Rutgers student rally was organized to not only show support for their peers at Syracuse, but to call for their own university to take action.
"The university (Rutgers) condemned the actions, however this is not enough," Matthew said at Tuesday's rally. "We demand action and transparency."
A sheet with 10 demands the NAACP would like to see Rutgers administration address publicly in the next semester was distributed to crowd members. They ranged from instituting a 48-hour deadline for the university to respond to racial incidents on campus to creating a strategy to increase the enrollment of black students at Rutgers.
As Tuesday's rally continued, speakers voiced a wide-range of points and opinions related to their experiences on campus and beyond. They invoked the names of Martin Luther King Jr. and Paul Robeson when touching on everything from slavery to white privilege to a lack of representation among faculty and administration at Rutgers.
One woman speaker talked about how there's "not a space" for black students at Rutgers. Another voiced frustration that when racist events such as the one in Syracuse on Nov. 16., students are forced to "talk to your secretary's secretary's secretary."