By Zainab Iqbal
Published: March 13th, 2019
A petition demanding Brooklyn College President Michelle Anderson to cut ties with the Residence Hall at Brooklyn College (RHBC) and to protect her students had emerged and is gaining attention throughout the campus.
On Monday, March 11, Brooklyn College student and filmmaker Chris Omar started a petition titled, “BC President Michelle Anderson: Protect Your Students + Cut Ties with the Residence Hall.” The petition, on Change.org, starts with, “Michelle Anderson, President of Brooklyn College, for her entire career, has been an advocate for sexual assault victims. Yet, has ignored a pervasive issue hovering over her own campus.”An article The Excelsior published in October about Christine DeLisser who says she was sexually assaulted at RHBC, is linked to the petition. To recap, in 2017, DeLisser was a student at Brooklyn College and was living in the dorms at RHBC. She claimed a maintenance worker gyrated toward her in the elevator and tried to kiss her in her dorm room.
At the same time the story was published, Omar released a video about DeLisser, titled, “The #MeToo Reality at the Residence Hall at Brooklyn College.”
After the story and video surfaced online, Omar said multiple students reached out to him sharing similar experienced at RHBC. He says it was clearly not a one-time thing.
The petition lists five demands for Anderson, which are as follows:
- Pledge that Brooklyn College will immediately cease advertising for RHBC.
- Pledge that the College will not continue any relationship with RHBC and their management moving forward.
- Request that CUNY seek a legal remedy to have Brooklyn College’s name and likeness removed from RHBC’s name and building.
- Issue a public apology to all past and present Brooklyn College students that were misled by the promotion on campus.
- Work to secure alternative housing options for non-commuter students, Reinstate Student Life and Housing Coordinator to support students in need of housing, and for students living in the Residence Hall regarding their rights as tenants.
One of Omar’s main concerns is the fact that Brooklyn College advertises for RHBC, despite having no authority over them. According to Tony Thomas, the Chief Legal & Labor Relations Officer, the contract between the College and RHBC that requires for the College to advertise, will at minimum run until 2020.
“Brooklyn College students do not want the school to continue advertising for RHBC. Privately owned corporations have no place on the grounds of public universities when federal protections such as Title IX have no jurisdiction over the predatory actions of the private corporation’s employees,” the petition states. “President Anderson, if you are the champion for sexual assault victims you say you are, start with the problems on your own campus.”
We reached out to the College for comment, but they declined to do so.
So far, over 100 people have signed the petition. Omar is hopeful and is expecting the number to rise in the next few days.
“Our biggest takeaway after several meetings with some powerful public officials in Brooklyn, was to create a petition,” Omar said. “It’s unfortunate that it has come to this, but it’s probably something we should’ve created months ago. I just hope change will actually come from this.”