Le Moyne students raise concerns about diversity at Town Hall meeting

“How am I supposed to feel safe when people like that are on our campus?” – Genesis Demaria


Le Moyne Students presented their concerns about safety, diversity, mental health, and cultural mindfulness to administration and Student Government Association at a Town Hall meeting this Tuesday evening, 11/2, in Grewen Auditorium. 

The SGA event lasted just over 2 hours. Over 10 different individuals went up to share their experiences regarding how they have been affected by “the culture” of the college.

Anne Kearney, Fr. Nash, Mark Godleski, and other Le Moyne faculty members were involved in the heated discussion where students gave feedback on members of the campus community along with ways it can improve.

Students had the opportunity to express their distress to a table of 6 individuals, including both students and faculty, along with other faculty members sitting in the audience. Students drew attention to the unsettled issues they hope to have resolved. 

As the meeting got started at 7 p.m., Anne Kearney, Dean of Student Wellbeing, thanked its attendees and acknowledged the anonymous survey that has been sent out to students. The goal for this survey is that it “will go towards improving the overall mentality of the student body,”  according to an advertisement poster created by Le Moyne’s SGA.

The questions asked students, “How would you rate the effects of classes on your mental health” along with other mental health questions.

Kearney also expanded upon a new app the Wellness Center offers, SSP, which is a “360 support system” with an abundance of resources and therapist to chat with both live along with over the phone. The Student Development Provost stated, “I’m really proud of the work the group of us did over the summer researching these online mental health services and we chose SSP.”

The promoted app by the Wellness Center also includes podcasts, personal assessments, articles, and fitness outlets.

Kearney goes more in depth into the ways Le Moyne is improving the well-being of students since previous concerns of mental health awareness on campus that were brought to the college’s attention last spring.

Students at the event made a segue from Kearney’s mental health awareness message to talk about diversity and bias concerns that are both recent and ongoing. 

As expected, students spoke about the “Xenophobic Costume Shared by the Le Moyne College Softball Instagram Account,” as it is referred to in a statement shared by Le Moyne’s SGA. The recent incident brought more attention to the concerns of diversity and division throughout the student body. 

Individuals took to the front of the room to voice their sentiments that cultural change is necessary, along with the importance of “having conversations” within the Jesuit community. Attendees spoke about members of the college’s staff whose language and actions they viewed as having harmful effects on the culture of the campus.

Genesis Demaria, a sophomore rugby player, articulated her concerns regarding the recent Instagram post from the Softball team.

Demaria reveals, “I wasn’t born here, I came here at the age of 7. At the age of 8 I had to watch my uncle be taken away.” She further states, “How am I supposed to feel safe when people like that are on our campus?”

Other students expressed similar issues and personal stories.

Euphoria Dobbs, a non-binary black student in the class of 2023, shared that the campus needs “more training for diversity,” because “everybody’s upset about it.” 

Dobbs is involved in Le Moyne clubs X, POWER, ASU, PRISM, Chronic Illness Awareness, and Asia Club. Dobbs also advocates for LGBTQ+ rights and minority equality/rights. 

Dobbs also shared concerns for the ongoing difficulty they and others face on campus with regards to diversity and bias.

Kearney responded to students by stating that she will be working with SGA and RA association, along with administration, to come up with “action steps.” “We are hearing our leaders on campus,” Kearny said of the students who spoke at the town hall. “You all belong here,” she added.

Catherine Durant, a junior on the track and field team, added to the conversation by stating, “The interactions I’ve had with campus security are not okay. It is not okay to be disrespectful to anyone.”

Durant continued to say, “Tone matters, attitude matters, concerns matter, and I feel like the conversations I’ve had with certain—not all, but some—of the campus security guards were not okay.” 

The RHA representative for SGA, Ivonne Santana, affirms to students, “You are the sum of your five closest friends. If you hang out with people who disrespect others, then you fall into that trap.”

Later in the meeting, students began to speak out in protest after Fr. Nash expressed his opinion about the softball team bias incident. He stated, “there’s nothing racial about it at all… it was not malicious, nor was it racist.”

Nash claimed that the costume was not racist since the student was white, and that “she wasn’t trying to present herself as a Mexican crossing the border, or anything else.”

Nash continued on to say that “one of the assistant coaches is African American” and she “didn’t find it offensive because they understood the joke.”

According to Nash, members of the softball team expressed their desire to attend this meeting but were told not to by administration.

Tensions remain high among students as they wait to hear what administration’s next steps will be. 

This article was revised on 11/4 to reflect the full extent of Fr. Nash’s comments at the town hall meeting which were previously misrepresented.