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Penn State Students End Standoff

May 3, 2001

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STATE COLLEGE, Pa. (AP) _ After a weeklong standoff, Penn State University students and administrators celebrated an agreement Wednesday designed to increase opportunities for black students.

University officials announced several changes last week in response to student complaints about the racial climate of the campus in light of several recent death threats against blacks.

Students who said the changes did not go far enough have been camped out in the student union building since last week. On Wednesday night, after several black professors helped mediate an agreement, the standoff turned into a party.

``We said we would stay here until our needs were met,″ said Joe Dawkins, former president of the Penn State Black Caucus, a student group. ``We think the university has taken that step and is meeting our needs.″

University officials announced last week they would add faculty to the African and African-American Studies Department, create an Africana Studies Research Center, create a new scholarship program and give more authority to the vice provost for educational equity.

Leaders of the Black Caucus had said those changes didn’t go far enough, and scores of students camped out in the student union building to protest.

The agreement reached Wednesday kept the plan the university announced last Thursday, but added details about the research center and the vice provost’s added authority.

``With these changes, students in the Black Caucus and the students in the (student union building) felt that that document was something they could endorse now as well,″ university President Graham B. Spanier said.

The university and its alumni association have offered a $10,000 reward for the arrest and conviction of the person responsible for the threats.

The university has also provided 24-hour bodyguards for Penn State Black Caucus President LaKeisha Wolf and called the FBI to investigate.


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