Anti-racism educator and writer Tim Wise spoke at SRU on Tuesday as a guest speaker sponsored by the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Leadership Team, discussing topics such as youth and student activism, racism/racial justice and US history” and white privilege in the US.
While each of these topics were engaging and had their own level of importance, his stance on student activism stands out for numerous reasons, especially since students at Slippery Rock are known for expressing their voice through protest.
Although these protests on campus have not all been race related, it doesn’t mean that students haven’t been effective in getting their voices heard. Last semester, hundreds of SRU students came together to voice their displeasure with the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education (PASSHE) in support of their professors during the faculty union strike in October. When the strike finally came to an end on its third day, both PASSHE and APSCUF credited students’ passion and support for their faculty as a reason why both parties worked hard to come to an agreement as quickly as they did.
Beyond the student support for APSCUF, students on campus have also rallied in support of the Black Lives Matter movement. During Black History Month, several students gathered in the Smith Student Center theater for a panel discussion regarding different stereotypes placed upon black men and women for the “cool pose” and the “angry black woman.”
The stereotype of the “cool pose” casts the image of black men having to act tough because of the standard set on by society regarding their race, while the “angry black woman” stereotype deals with black women being cast in a negative, angry light instead of being seen as strong people. This panel was sponsored by numerous organizations that promote inclusivity on campus and sparked campus discussion to rid each stereotype at SRU.
Also, last school year, students brought awareness to Black Livers Matter when students who promote diversity gathered in the student center to peacefully protest and bring awareness to systemic racism within the police force in areas across the country after black men were wrongfully killed in altercations with the police and caught on video. These students, from various backgrounds, spread throughout the student center by laying down, representing the men who lost their lives during these incidents.
While not all of these protests may have been widely recognized on campus, the fact that students are gathering to enforce their first amendment rights and express their opinions is fantastic. Students should have the right to educate their peers and stand up for their beliefs. Luckily for them, it’s easy to express their views because a state institution such as Slippery Rock is a public forum with multiple areas on campus to have their movements.