Kevyn Perkins, a student at the University of St. Thomas, was shocked to find a racist message scrawled across his dorm room door. In response to the incident, the university and community came together on Wednesday for a school sit-in to discuss hate speech and bigotry.
Many of the students attending wore buttons reading “racism stops with me” to show solidarity and a commitment to making a difference.
“I felt prideful that students of every race were at the assembly, especially all of the white students with the buttons,” St. Thomas freshman Ahmen Samuel told Fox. “Made me feel like they are actually trying to accomplish a common goal here.”
#Repost @uofstthomasmn ・・・
“To be free of racism is not simply an ideal, but an essential right for every dignified human being, and upholding this right is the responsibility of everyone in our community.” – St. Thomas Anti-Racism coalition https://t.co/Un3wqzpwrI pic.twitter.com/q6dEzow3DN— St. Thomas Law (MN) (@USTLawMN) November 1, 2018
Fox reports classes were canceled, and the university used the sit-in as an opportunity to bring both students and faculty together not only to discuss forms of hate but also to unveil a short-term action plan. As outlined, the plan encourages classroom conversations, an anti-hate campaign and a new focus on student life and safety in residences.
The collective was lead by a California professor who focuses on diversity and inclusion, KSTP reports. Students were able to voice concerns and dive into racial issues they may not have otherwise considered.
“He talked about how indirect racism, we don’t realize how big of a problem that is,” St. Thomas sophomore Kailey Beer told KSTP. “There’s obviously hate crimes that we see and are obvious and everyone’s like, ‘No, that’s bad.’ But there’s indirect stuff that gets pushed under the rug that we need to recognize.”
The school hopes to attract more students and faculty of color.
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