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Brandeis, students reach agreement to end sit-in

Students were in a hallway not far from the president’s office at the Brandeis campus on Nov. 23.Pat Greenhouse/Globe Staff/File

Hundreds of Brandeis University students ended a 12-day sit-in Tuesday afternoon when the university released a detailed plan to address protesters' demands regarding diversity on campus.

The students had remained in the Bernstein-Marcus Administrative Center, which includes the university president's office, since Nov. 20, vowing not to leave until administrators responded to their concerns.

On Tuesday, the group said it was satisfied by the university's diversity plan, which includes steps to attract students and faculty from "historically underrepresented groups," and launch faculty workshops to discuss ways that race and inequality can play a role in the classroom.

Those measures were among a list of 13 demands laid out by students when the protest began.


#ConcernedStudents2015, as the group called itself, said the atmosphere was electric Tuesday as the university's interim president, Lisa M. Lynch, announced the plan.

"We are overjoyed to pave the way for future Brandeis students and hope that our actions are inspirations to other university students demanding a positive change," the student group said in a statement.

In a separate statement outlining the plan, Lynch said she is looking forward to continued conversations about diversity on campus.

"Our ability to contribute to academic excellence depends on having an academic community whose members come from diverse cultures, backgrounds, and life experiences," Lynch said.

She added that the student activism has made clear that "many members of our community experiences with racism on Brandeis campus and society at large have resulted in exclusion, vulnerability, and isolation."

The Brandeis protest was one of many campus movements across the nation this fall that have sought to highlight the experiences of minority groups in higher education.

Officials at the Waltham university pledged to appoint a vice president for diversity and inclusion in early 2016 to coordinate diversity efforts across campus.

Administrators also plan to work with campus centers to ensure the programs are catering to students of all backgrounds.


"Over the past week our students articulated the impact of exclusion on their Brandeis experience in ways that were startling and disturbing," Lynch said. "With their voices in mind, we remain hopeful that we can and will emerge from recent events as a stronger, more inclusive institution recommitted to our founding values."

Felicia Gans can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @FeliciaGans.