Ignorance is nothing new. Although you may expect to find several interesting things on a college campus, many students enter college without expecting to not be discriminated against because of their ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender or religion. And yet, for longer than anyone really knows, discrimination has been happening on Michigan State University’s campus.
On September 28, a black female student in Akers Hall woke up to find the words “No N****** Please” written on the whiteboard that hangs on her dorm room door. Shortly after, another student found a black doll hanging from the ceiling in the Chemistry building. Another student walking through the Gallery in Snyder-Phillips cafeteria heard two white students say they felt uncomfortable and unsafe in that part of campus because there were “too many black students”. The walls of a residence hall in Brody Complex were vandalized with the N-word, but cleaned up before students saw it. Several weeks before that, after a yard show held by the Black Greek Lettered Organizations on campus, a truck full of white males pulled up to a group of black females yelled racial epithets, telling them to “go back where they came from”.
The Black Student Alliance, outraged by these incidents and lack of action by administration, held an emergency town hall meeting in Conrad Hall on October 4. Students, faculty and administrators from all walks of life poured into the crowded room to show their support. Even after all the seats were filled, students came and sat on the floors, leaned against the walls, or stood in the back of the room, spilling out into the hallway.
“The events that are happening on campus make my blood boil. I just want to come out and show my support,” said Criminal Justice junior Danielle Matlick.
Students showed their outrage regarding the incidents by sharing personal stories of times they were discriminated against and vowing to take action until things change.
“The life of a colored student on this campus is not that different from an Indian living in Dubai,” said former mentor Ashiq Rahiman.
Those in attendance were challenged to stand up against racism and discrimination.
“You can’t just talk crap on Twitter and talk crap on Facebook and expect things to change. It’s not going to happen overnight,” said RCAH major Amy Brown, after giving a touching testimony. Several people brought up ideas of silent protests, like a march to the Hannah Administration Building and sit-ins in predominately white cafeterias.
People were also challenged to start helping out their brother and sister in order to become unified.
“We’re past the days where we had to go to the back door to eat. Right now, we don’t even have the money to get into the restaurant,” said a student during his testimony.
The meeting ended with encouraging words and passion to stop racism and discrimination on campus.
“Don’t forget to smile, to hold each other and love each other. If you need each other, tell each other,” said Rahiman.
So what’s the next step? Will students walk away from the meeting and pretend like nothing happened? BSA has been active in scheduling silent & peaceful protests. On October 6, students silently held signs and passed out handbills at the main CATA station, east CATA station, Brody, West Circle, and other locations throughout campus. At 5:55pm, BSA led a silent cross-campus march from Brody to East Complex to show their resilience.
MSU students -black and white, Asian and Latino, gay and straight- showed up from everywhere to participate.
By Devyne Lloyd