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White Students Applaud Minorities for Occupying University Building

February 19, 1988

AMHERST, Mass. (AP) _ A nearly weeklong occupation of a University of Massachusetts building by minorities protesting racism was applauded by many white students Thursday.

Many of the students who praised the protesters said the occupation of New Africa House was carried out so peacefully they wouldn’t have known about it except for the daily stories in the campus newspaper.

″It’s not like they were violent. They were just sitting in the building making a statement,″ said junior Marcel Ricciardelli, of Lynnfield.

Nearly all of the dozen students interviewed at random Thursday at the rural campus of 25,000 students said they supported the more than 100 blacks, Hispanics, Asians and Indians who held the building for six days.

″Their demands were not all that unreasonable,″ said senior Miguel Gusils, of Cambridge.

The minorities took over the building to protest the alleged beating of two black students by whites earlier this month and the continued atmosphere of racial tension on campus. The most recent incident came 16 months after a racial clash over the 1986 World Series in which 10 students were injured.

The takeover ended Wednesday after negotiators reached an agreement with University Chancellor Joseph D. Duffey that included a promise to keep other school departments from encroaching on Third World program space in the New Africa House, a statement in the student code of conduct regarding racial harassment and efforts to recruit more minority students.

A spokeswoman for the protesters, Jo Ella Costello, described the scene inside the New Africa House Thursday as ″chaos″ and said, ″The work has just begun.″ She said a committee had been appointed from among the protesters to monitor the implementation of the agreement.

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