FHSU students address instances of racism on campus, call their student representatives to action

BY CORIE LYNN

As Thursday night’s Student Government Association meeting began, a group of FHSU faculty and students walked in and stood silently at the rear of the Ballroom.

This group, which included the Black Student Union, students of color and supporters, was invited by SGA Legislative Affairs Director Cristal Rojas and several student senators to speak on their experiences of discrimination and racism at FHSU.

“Marginalized people have finally found a voice,” said Demetrius Chance, an FHSU student and founder of Can You See Me?

For the first half-hour of the meeting Chance, BSU President Danzel Major and Vice President Chyler Backstrom told personal stories of racism they have experienced on campus.

“I thought this would be a really good environment for me,” Backstrom said.

According to the speakers, they are aware of people who have been assaulted but who will not come forward because they believe that nothing will be done.

In addition to sharing their own stories, Chance read the anonymous letter of a former member of the Sigma Chi fraternity. This letter shared the racism the writer found inherent in the culture of the fraternity, including condoning racist language.

Chance made a point to thank FHSU Compliance Officer Amy Schaffer, Vice President for Student Affairs Dr. Joey Linn and Assistant Vice President for Student Affairs Teresa Clounch for their work in ensuring student safety.

The group’s call was to change the culture of campus and to allow marginalized voices to be heard.

“We all know [what is happening], but no one is speaking up,” Chance said.

After the group left, the SGA continued with their evening’s business, which included executive reports and voting on fee reviews. However, the conversation about discrimination continued throughout the meeting.

Student Senator Chris Crawford spoke to the Student Senate, calling them to act and to invite honesty and openness on campus.

In addition, Crawford recommended that the SGA create what he termed “Underserved Senate Seats,” which would ensure that students of color and those within the LGBTQ+ community would have representation in their student body.

During Open Forum, Rojas and Student Senators Will Barfield and Riana Mays spoke on their experiences with discrimination because of skin color and sexuality.

Rojas stated that she does not share the comments she hears because the “consequences fall on me rather than the people who said them.”

The group used their time that evening to share their stories with their student representatives, but their hope was to move students and faculty to action. They emphasized that they want their voices and stories to be heard and for change to occur within the campus as a whole.

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