SIU students come together for May 2 peaceful protest

SIU+students+come+together+for+May+2+peaceful+protest

By Diamond Jones, Daily Egyptian

Students a part of several organizations and socially active groups on campus came together Monday for a two-and-half-hour peace rally outside of Faner Hall.

Dozens of diverse students gathered around with posters, banners and signs — some reading “Black Lives Matter” and “When They Say Peace, They Mean Obedience” — to rally against the social issues on campus, such as the budget crisis, homophobia, academic diversity and racism.

“We had safety concerns, but that’s why we conducted the peace rally,” said Donald Chamberlain III, a master’s student in social work from Carbondale. “We knew people were scared and wanted people to know that no violence would overpower this.”

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Chamberlain, one of the five organizers of the rally, said there was a high demand for the university’s president, chancellor and administration to hold a press conference to find solutions to these social problems. He said the university has yet to define diversity and hopes they construct a diversity-based course.

“Universities and society desperately need young people because our voices challenge them to step up when we step up,” Chamberlain said.

Some students who wanted to participate were a bit hesitant because of violent threats made prior to the rally, he said. But that didn’t stop most of them from giving support and using their voices to be heard.

Kia Smith, a junior from Chicago studying advertising and Africana studies, received a call from her father early Monday morning in regards to her safety. Smith said she didn’t know what to expect from the rally, but felt that the event was a great symbol of solidarity, showing her the support of students who didn’t look like her.

“The work is not over, and we still have more to do along with the administration,” Smith said. “We have to let it be known we’ll continue to use our voices on homophobia, sexual assault and racism.”

Smith said she would like to see more resources for minorities and greater support toward sexual harassment victims on campus. 

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“I would like to see these victims be taken seriously and their stories to be believed,” Smith said. “The people in charge need to take advantage of their job titles and see that we’re spending money to go to a school with no resources to keep us here.”

Johnathan Flowers, a doctoral candidate in philosophy from Oak Park, said in his 11 years of being at SIU, this was the first time he had ever seen people from different groups and races come together to advocate for the same purpose.

Flowers, who also helped organize the event, said he hopes white students realized that just because they don’t face issues of minorities, they still can see that students of color are suffering and they have the power to make a change.

“No matter what, love always wins against hate,” Chamberlain said. “Hopefully this has woken up administration and students because the peaceful movement has begun and will continue.”

Diamond Jones can be reached at [email protected] or 618-536-3325.

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