USC Students Stand In Solidarity With Mizzou
By Maria Cavassuto
Members of USC’s Black Student Assembly joined other supporters for a rally in front of Tommy Trojan on Thursday in a show of solidarity with University of Missouri students. Over 200 students of all races and backgrounds stood together, clad in all black, holding posters that read “USC Fights on 4 Mizzou” and “Respect Existence, Expect Resistance.” They used the hashtag “#IStandWithMizzou” to support students across the nation and propel the fight for equality on college campuses.
“We are angry black scholars, but not for no reason. We are upset and we are allowed to feel that range of emotions and we shouldn’t be punished for doing so,” said Mykaila Williams, the Executive Director of USC’s Black Student Assembly.
Nathaniel Collins, a black freshman at USC studying at the Thornton School of Music, said that in his first few weeks of college he experienced verbal discrimination.
“I was walking to the Music Complex, which is between the Cinema school and Taper Hall, and basically someone yelled out the ’N’ word,” he said. “I looked around and there was one guy looking at me and he was white.”
Collins feels that people are too lenient about “throwing around the ’N’ word,” and that people still do not understand that it is offensive.
“I think race relations are pretty poor here at USC,” he said.
Alex Mullings, a black junior who studies economics, agrees with Collins.
“I try to be positive and give you the benefit of the doubt,” said Mullings. “It’s sad to me to think that in so many different spaces, whether in a living space, in a classroom, out on campus or off campus, you could be racially profiled by a student, by a DPS officer or by someone out on the campus.”
During his sophomore year as a Resident Assistant at the New North Residence Hall at USC, Mullings said flyers posted throughout the halls were vandalized with offensive words.
“They took a sharpie and added all of these racist terms,” he said.
“To think that there are people on this campus who are aware of these words, understand why they are offensive, and are willing to put that out there to say like ‘Oh we know that this is something that is going on,’” said Mullings. “It was very bothersome to me and it was one of the very first times that I didn’t feel safe on this campus.”
Non-USC students attended the rally as well. Loyola Marymount University senior Brea Hammonds feels that her university has a supportive African-American community. However, whenever she’s faced racial issues in the past, she didn’t feel like she was able to turn to anyone for help.
“It was so miniscule to my white counterparts that they didn’t feel that it was something that needed attention,” she said.
Hammonds, a theater student at LMU, said it’s hard for her to get cast in traditionally white roles. She also said that there are not nearly enough black faculty at her school.
USC’s Undergraduate Student Government passed a resolution to include mandatory diversity classes to education on Tuesday. The resolution calls for the hiring of vice deans of diversity for different schools to improve the campus climate and represent all students.
The University of Missouri instilled a representative for diversity on their campus this week as well.
Following several days of unrest, University of Missouri Provost Garnett Stokes announced that Associate Dean Chuck Henson, was appointed interim Vice Chancellor for Inclusion, Diversity and Equity.
“We’re looking forward to working with him as we continue to make Mizzou an inclusive and welcoming community for everyone who teaches, works and studies here,” said Stokes to the University of Missouri News Bureau.
Justin Peters, a white freshman at the University of Missouri, spoke to Annenberg Media over Skype. He described the feeling on campus as tense, but also hopeful amidst the fear and confusion. He feels that it’s important that students on the University of Missouri campus come together and see this as a step forward.
“What we want to see in the end is the whole school moving forward past racism, violence and fear, towards a better future.”