Members of the Black Action Society (BAS), including some faculty and staff members, gathered in the Robert M. Smith Student Center lobby to take pictures to show their support for the University of Missouri students who have recently been facing racism on their campus.
According to USAToday.com, on Sept. 12, President of the Missouri Students Association, Payton Head, posted on Facebook about being called the “N-word” repeatedly on campus. The post was shared by several people on and off Mizzou’s campus.
On Sept. 16, the chancellor of the university, R. Bowen Loftin, published a tweet saying, “Let me be very clear about where I stand as Mizzou’s chancellor: one bias incident is too many. The incidents that I have heard about – both blatant and subtle – are totally unacceptable.” When Loftin tried to hold an online diversity training program, students were upset.
Following the chancellor’s tweet, a group of 11 black leaders protested during their Homecoming parade, which blocked Mizzou’s president, Tim Wolfe. Several football players also said they refused to play in any football games until Wolf resigned or was terminated. The head coach of Missouri Gary Pinkel stood with the football team to show his support of the players, according to USAToday.com.
According to USAToday.com, Wolfe resigned on Nov. 9.
President of Black Action Society (BAS), Yonshalae Powell said BAS decided to hold this event because there have been a lot of racial injustices happening at Mizzou.
“We’re taking a picture with students who support Mizzou and show that we’re standing there with them and it’s to show that Slippery Rock has a great community and that we would never let what happened at Mizzou happen at Slippery Rock University,” Powell said. “Anyone can throw an event and talk about people and about what happened in Mizzou and inform them, but at the end of the day, what are we actually doing about it, except talking about it?”
Powell said taking pictures at the event is a great way to get support for Mizzou and to get students active.
Powell said she hopes students and faculty use this event as an opportunity to show that SRU can come together in times of need for other universities. Powell also said that by SRU coming together, it makes the university a better campus because since SRU is standing with Mizzou, the campus stands against racism.
Everyone who was included in the pictures was told to wear black.
Treasurer of BAS, Odell Richardson, said this event is important to him and should be important to other students because incidents like this could happen at Slippery Rock University.
“So many things have gone on in this world and we need to start paying attention to them,” Richardson said.
President Cheryl J. Norton sent out an email to students stating that she stands in support of BAS and the entire SRU family who wish to make the university an open experience where each person is respected and treated with dignity.
“Education cannot occur if there is not a safe, supportive and tolerant environment on campus,” Norton said. “This must be an environment that respects not only individual difference, but also a community that protects, indeed defends, these differences.”
Norton said it is equally important to have the courage to confront and discuss difficult issues that divide us as a society. She stated that intolerance towards any person, or group of people will not be tolerated on this campus.