Video reveals students at top Illinois STEM school stage protest over DEI; list of demands includes “concrete impacts” for alleged bias offenders


On December 8, 2023, Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy (IMSA) students staged a sit-in and walkout over grievances related to diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI). Student demands include punitive punishments for bias incident reports including suspensions, expulsions, and even notification of the violation to “potential future colleges.”

Video of the event, received from a tip, reveals students engaged in a sit-in, which included a series of chants over the grievances. Students are then seen at the end of the one minute twenty-four second video walking out of the school.

The list of student demands featured at the end of the video include a “public outline of the possible consequences for students following a bias incident report” and “those consequences must have concrete impacts for the offender” which include “detentions, removal from leadership positions, suspensions, expulsions, and notification to parents and potential future colleges.”

Other demands include “consequences for staff and faculty following a bias incident report,” the Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion must “publish to students a report detailing their initiatives relating to diversity, equity, and inclusion” and the “progress made for those initiatives,” students “from marginalized communities must be involved in the creation and execution of all diversity, equity, and inclusion training for teachers, residential counselors, and students,” a prioritizing in the hiring process for “student-facing staff and faculty” that includes “inviting diverse and supportive individuals into the IMSA community,” and “administration must assume more responsibility and accountability for enacting change against racism and other discrimination.”

Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy’s Bias Incident Reporting page states that its “policies and practices reflect IMSA’s expectation that all interactions among persons will be free of bias, prejudice, discrimination and harassment.” The school defines the practice as “incidents of bias and hate affecting a person or group create a hostile climate and negatively impact the quality of the IMSA experience for community members.”

A “hate or ‘bias-related’ incident is an act that demonstrates prejudice against the victim’s actual or perceived race, color, gender/gender identity/gender expression, sex, sexual orientation, ethnic origin, religion, ability, political affiliation, veteran’s status and/or other aspects of a person’s identity.”

The anonymous Bias Incident Reporting Form asks respondents to mark the type of bias which includes “race,” “color,” “gender,” “ability,” “weight,” “political affiliation,” and “microaggressions.”

Read more about Bias Response Systems here.

In 2018, IMSA’s Board of Trustees adopted its “Equity and Excellence” policy which seeks to make equity a part of “every facet of the Academy.” Read more about it here.

Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy’s Director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion is speaker Adrienne Coleman.