Activists interrupt Jenna Fischer talk, demand black housing

DePauw University student activists interrupted a guest lecture by actress Jenna Fischer last week, occupying the venue for 20 minutes while demanding social change on campus. 

According to The DePauw, the demonstrators repeatedly shouted “we are not safe” and asked if Fischer, who appeared on campus to discuss her new book, was aware of the recent uptick in racial bias incident reports at the university. 

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Fischer, who is widely known for her portrayal of Pam in the hit NBC comedy series The Office, reportedly began to cry when she saw the activists, stating that she was “moved” by the protest. “Oftentimes justice requires interruption and disruption from our scheduled lives,” she said, as reported by the publication. 

Throughout the interruption, the students yelled “I am not safe, we are not safe!” and brought signs that read “Where’s the black in black and gold?” and “We are not safe #DePauwKKK.”

DePauw President Mark McCoy, who was present at the lecture, remained silent during the demonstration and briefly apologized to Fischer before she resumed her scheduled talk.  

The day after the April 17 protest, the student activists interrupted a university press conference, urging the school administrators to “meet our [list of] demands” that was sent to McCoy earlier that morning, The DePauw reported

The list reportedly contained eight specific demands, including campus housing for black students and a plea to address the bias incidents at DePauw. In response, the school announced that the former Sigma Alpha Epsilon (SAE) house will be made into a designated area for the Association of African American Students (AAAS).

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According to the newspaper, McCoy also announced that the school will give out a $5,000 reward to anyone who provides information that will lead to the apprehension of vandals who recently wrote a racist slur in a campus bathroom.

In response to the last week’s protest, Fischer posted a public statement on her Instagram account, pledging to donate “the full amount I was paid by the University” to groups such as “the NAACP, The Anti-Defamation League, and the Trevor Project in the name of the students of DePauw University.”

“I could feel the pain, sadness, and fear coming from these students,” she wrote. “No student should feel at risk, or have to suffer the kinds of bigotry and hate these students have encountered.”

Fischer’s spokesperson told Campus Reform that “Jenna has already released a statement [via Instagram] and will not be making any further comment.”

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