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BSU Addresses Racial Insensitivity on Campus

At 8:15am on Monday, November 23, 2015, members of Emmanuel’s Black Student Union (BSU) and their allies marched across the quad and into President Sister Janet Eisner’s office with a list of demands. When Sister Janet arrived she was greeted by a large group of students with signs and the list of demands gathered inside her office.

The Hub was present, live-tweeting the sit-in as well as the discussion that followed.

Read the full Storify of the event: here

BSU and Sister Janet moved the discussion to a conference room which provided a space for students to talk about their experiences with racial discrimination on campus and explain why the list of demands was creative. Sister Janet was alert and invested in the cause, taking notes and making sure that everyone’s voice was heard.

Shortly after the first meeting, another was held with Emmanuel Faculty members including Dean William C. Leonard. BSU went over the demands with the group and discussed how the college would go about making changes on campus to better accommodate students of color.

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That evening, students gathered in the quad to stand in solidarity with University of Missouri (popularly known as Mizzou) students in a demonstration organized by the BSU.

The event, which began at 5 PM, required participants to stand in a large circle facing inwards.

The event was originally planned for a week prior, but was rescheduled for November 23 due to a lack of proper documentation.

Several dozen were in attendance. Notable faculty presence included Director of Student Activities Daniel Darcy and Professor Cynthia Fowler.

Some classes held simultaneously as the demonstration were cancelled, as professors like Stephan Jacobs encouraged students to attend. Jacobs was in attendance, but did not participate.

The demonstration began as participants were each given numbered slips of paper. On each were sequential pieces of Mizzou’s history of racial prejudice leading up to and focusing on current events.

Participants stood in the center of the circle and read each fragment in order.

After, students of color were asked to voice how race has affected their own experiences at Emmanuel College.

Some used the situation to voice their demands of the college, echoing the discussion held earlier that morning between Sister Janet Eisner and the Black Student Union. Many of the students that participated in the sit in were also present at the demonstration.

When asked to speak of their experiences dealing with racism, several students appeared burnt out, having already spent hours elaborating their concerns during the sit in.

“From this day forward we are expecting Emmanuel College to make actual changes,” announced Gabriela Taveras ’17, referring to the list of demands presented to the administration from the BSU.

Other issues raised were Emmanuel’s History Department’s focus on solely the narrative of black oppression, as well as another student’s concerns over their safety being both trans and black.

“The lack of support here is really troubling,” voiced Laurie Boyd ’16.

This took place amid a tense time for universities in the United States, whose presidents have begun to face scrutiny over their handling and allowance of racism on campus.

Other such institutions holding demonstrations include Ithaca College, Yale University, and Smith College. Closer-to-home, Boston College and Emerson College also saw solidarity gatherings.

The event bookended a very tense day for Emmanuel. The two potent, related acts of racial activism mirrored similar events on campus a year ago which spawned the original list of demands from the BSU, as well as the President’s Commission on Diversity and Inclusivity.

On the evening of November 24, Sister Janet posted a response to the BSU demands on the portal. This response came before the 48 hour deadline given by students at the discussion.

Anna Topping ’17 is a staff writer and the Social Media Editor of The Hub. She can be contacted at toppinga@emmanuel.edu and on Twitter @annaytopping.

Seth Garcia ’16 is a staff writer at The Hub. He can be contacted at garcias@emmanuel.edu.

Photo gallery credits: Paul Rowley ’16, staff writer and Assistant Managing Editor.

Posted by on November 30, 2015. Filed under Clubs & Organizations. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.