After attending the An Evening of Unity for FHSU Students last Tuesday, I walked away understanding a little more about how people felt on campus. There were 24 total individuals were in attendance and a lot was discussed. Diversity ranged from students that have experienced being undocumented at some point in their lives to students part of the LGBTQ community to faculty members to just Resident Assistants.
The conversation took awhile to open up but once it started it flowed well. The moderators from the FHSU Office of Inclusion and Diversity Excellence posed questions throughout the session to keep the conversation rolling. They also started off with their own stories and then opened the floor to others.
Many participants agreed that they weren’t afraid of President-Elect Donald Trump but feared that the voters that chose to mark his name on the ballot on November 8th were either racist, xenophobic, misogynistic, homophobic or any combinations of the above. Representatives of campus have had students come up to them crying or upset with the election and with fears of the future and all they’ve been able to really only say “We’ll cross that road when we get there.”
Many representatives on campus, whether Resident Assistants or from the Kelly Center acknowledged that it’s hard to give everyone the resources that they need in situations like this.
The conversation then geared towards what happened the days following the election. Many students who openly identify as part of the LGBTQ community spoke about dirty and rude looks. Many remember feeling a weird “vibe” on campus that didn’t feel right to them. One student shared an experience from a conversation he had with another student. He recalled being told “You have nothing to be afraid of because you’re white” but he felt that statement was wrong because he is gay.
Many students shared that they didn’t attend class that Wednesday, but others disagreed with those actions and said that it showed weakness, and also that it gave the power to Trump and his supporters. This was the first time that there seemed to be a disagreement during the meeting.
The ending was probably the most rewarding moment. An older gentlemen who had just sat and listened idly the entire time spoke up. His accent sounded of Russian descent but he spoke the basic message that love needed to be spread to drown out the hate. He told the students in the room that they were going to be a big change for the Hays community and that “America has always been great, and it will continue to be great.”
Overall, this open discussion was one that I think opened the eyes of many. The faculty members were able to see some of the issues that students on campus see in their daily lives. And students that experience different social stigmas were able to see what one another go through, and have gone through since the election.
For those reading this, stand up for those you see getting discriminated. Speak out, let them know that even though you might not go through their problems or experience it, you’re willing to help them. And also, If you believe that someone is wrong for being who they are, you’re entitled to that opinion, but keep hateful talk and actions to yourself.