Minority students question their position at Le Moyne in the wake of Mizzou

“Le Moyne is not exempt from any type of racial prejudices and injustices,” said Bennie Williams,  Director of Multicultural Affairs.

College students across America have been demonstrating for weeks against racism on their campuses. The University of Missouri, Yale University and Ithaca College have made national headlines and stirred more conversation about racial tensions in America with their protesting. Among them Missouri, or Mizzou, has been at the forefront of the movement with their President resigning after the football team threatened to stop playing.

Le Moyne is no stranger to similar forms of racial tension: [last year] a student dressed in blackface to the annual Halloween dance, students posted discriminatory comments on Yik Yak and a protest was held in the cafe during Cram Jam.

Though Le Moyne is seemingly quieter this fall, that did not stop students from protesting in support of Mizzou. 40 students and faculty held a demonstration on Nov. 13 in front of Grewen Hall to show they stand with Mizzou. Williams started the protest by addressing the crowd to discuss what Le Moyne is doing to raise awareness about diversity on Campus, and then a prayer was led by Fr. David McCallum. Afterwards students marched through campus chanting and singing spirituals such as “Lean On Me” and “We Shall Overcome.”

Williams said it is positive and encouraging to see students taking a stand in things they believe in and hope schools will begin to do more to acknowledge the injustices that their students face. He believes Le Moyne has done a nice job responding to last year’s racial tensions, but knows there is a long road ahead.

“I think Le Moyne is on the right path. Are we completely there yet, no. But I don’t think any institution will ever completely be there,” said Williams. “I think Le Moyne is being proactive. One thing is having someone dedicated to multicultural affairs, who students know to go to. I think we have things in place with our new bias reporting incident system, with a lot of the programming that our clubs and organizations are doing; there are opportunities for our students to express how they feel.”

When asked whether they feel safe and a part of the Le Moyne community as minorities, students had varying viewpoints.

Freshman Chelsea Burnham said she doesn’t feel threatened, but she feels her voice isn’t heard as much as she would like it to be. “I feel that I’m looked down upon because of the color of my skin, and the way that I act and the way that I carry myself. I feel like I almost have to be apologetically black,” said Burnham.

Sophomore Fernanda Vergara thinks Le Moyne offers adequate clubs for minorities to partake in, but it’s hard to feel included if you’re not a part of those clubs.

“I don’t think there is much diversity at Le Moyne, but the students who are minorities at Le Moyne, they stick together—even if they don’t know each other,” said Vergara. “Minorities have to stick together in a predominately white school.”

 [nggallery id=1]