By Samantha Werkheiser
On Tuesday Sept. 26, the Cultural Greek Council held a silent march for the racial issues that remain prevalent on campus.
“We have issues that we need to discuss,” said graduate student Dominique Washington before the silent march took place.
“There are no problems that we cannot solve together and very few that we can solve by ourselves….we are here today to discuss a problem on this campus,” said Washington.
The march of over 65 people began in Union courtyard at 1:45 p.m. and wrapped around the lower part of campus.
“The turnout was even better than expected and it was amazing to see,” said Washington of the number of people who attended the event.
The silent march lasted around 10 minutes, ending in the courtyard.
Following the march, Washington went on to speak of the action that he thinks needs to be taken on campus.
“This university is made up of three parts: students, faculty and staff. Without us, the students, this university would not exist. The university knows this when they say they want to put students first. So now is the time to challenge them on that statement. We as students, and in particular the minorities, are tired. We’re tired of being asked for our opinion and being asked to lift our voices. But our voices continuously seem to fall on deaf ears.,” said Washington following the march.
Washington voiced his aggravation towards the university, claiming that change has been asked for continuously but is never actually enacted.
“We have to find a way to bridge that gap, and today we are bridging our voices in unison to demand a place at that table so that we can have those conversations that will facilitate change,” said Washington.
“But many people feel that this is a black issue or a minority issue but diversity, inclusion and fair treatment is a universal issue,” said Washington in regard to some claiming these issues only relate to race.
Washington also stated that a lack of support for minority students results in many of them leaving.
“I served as vice president of student senate, I have been the president of my fraternity’s chapter and I have been at ESU for six years. And I know that there are resources available. However, they are not readily available to us. Most regular students are unaware of the resources or feel that they have no access to them,” said Washington.
Washington went on to say that financial support would be “great”, but the needs of students extend far greater than that.
“We need more professors that look like us, to encourage us that we can make it to. We need advisors that can relate to us and understand where we come from. As opposed to the robots that we currently have that believe that simply giving us pin numbers is sufficient,” said Washington to a crowd that clapped in agreement to this statement.
Washington also called for counselors that can relate to students and that students would feel comfortable sharing their issues with.
“We want you to hear us, but not only hear us. We want you to work with us so we can facilitate the change that this campus drastically needs. We need to work together to develop a culture here at ESU of tolerance of different religious beliefs, political beliefs and sexual orientation.
We need to develop a culture of acceptance and understanding. We have to work together to cultivate a culture of excellence here at ESU,” said Washington about working with ESU to enact change.
Washington called for staff, students and faculty to create a culture of love, acceptance and tolerance. He said that advocating for social justice must be a continuous action, not just a one-time thing.
Following Washington’s speech, he asked if anyone else had issues they wanted to discuss. Though no one spoke up, he offered for students to speak with him more privately after he was done speaking.
“Nobody went up to speak after but some of them might be nervous. If you gave them some paper and pen, I’m sure there would be a lot of questions, a lot of suggestions to be made. But it’s good to know that there’s awareness and to let people know they’re not alone,” said student Ruben Garcia.
“I came to unify with the minority community. I’m here to support all the issues that we have on this campus. I feel that we should be united, not just the minorities but also non-minorities that we have at ESU. We pride ourselves in diversity and I feel like that should be one of our main priorities,” said Ashlyn Jackson, Student Senate extracurricular affairs chair.
Some students wanted to hear the issues that needed to be discussed.
“I just came to support my fellow students and hear their concerns and what we need to change,” said Student Senate President Chelsi Roberts-Williams.
“We will hold more events like this if we have to, but we are looking to progress up the ladder and we want to go to the next level of this process,” said Washington when asked if there would be events like this in the future.
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