Augustana Observer

Augustana Observer

Augustana Observer

Change missing after protests

Before walking into Paul Croll’s American Race and Ethnic Relations course on Dec. 15, I witnessed the visual protest organized by students on campus. Walking past, I couldn’t help but feel the tension and discomfort coming from all directions. As an Asian American student on campus, I felt a myriad of conflicting emotions. While I was hoping the protest would lead to a discussion of what diversity and multiculturalism all meant on Augustana’s campus, by listening to the demonstration and gauging reactions, I knew that wouldn’t be able to occur.

While the protests were exciting, the question remains, what have they truly changed? The only change I’ve seen is increased hostility and raw emotions towards race on this campus. It has only spurred more hate, and more discourse. Though discourse can lead to civil and social action, neither has been taken. This act seemed to silence the voices of 70 percent of campus and alienated former allies.

Reading through the proposal on, I couldn’t help but cringe, especially concerning the language used. The phrase “Black students and all students of color,” only increased my, and others, frustration with being separated as minorities.

This proposal seemed to only foster resolutions for one group. The diction may have seemed to prevail for all students of color, but I felt misrepresented. Many of points were valid, but there were many unrealistic requests, including the concessionary time frame for changes. Changing the Viking culture will take much longer than Fall 2015, it will take years.

My opinion is shared, especially by those who are silent at the moment. Many students are too afraid to be labeled a racist to speak up or comment. It pushes them even further towards anonymous social media like Yik Yak. That platform allows for the expelling of frustration, anger, hurt, etc. without further judgment. As I predicted, the racial comments increased during and after the protest.

Unlike Colgate University, where more than 300 students staged a sit-in inside the admissions building to protest the treatment of minority students on campus and the university’s lack of diversity, the Augustana protest caused a polarization of the student body, rather than targeting efforts at those places that most affected their goals. If you want to change admissions, let them know. If you want to change Public Safety, let them know.

Colgate took very different steps to addressing the exact same issue plaguing Augustana. After bigoted statements were made on Yik Yak at Colgate, the faculty worked with students to post positive and encouraging messages, changing the culture of the app in their vicinity. Utilizing hashtags like #thisiscolgate and #canyouhearusnow made all the difference. By harnessing the social media that spurred the issue, they were able to affect their college community.

We need to find a balance. We’re not automatically going to accept, understand, and empathize. The discussions can begin, but only if they come from a neutral place.

There needs to be a place for all opinions, no matter what. With that in mind, the Observer will be hosting a town hall forum for the Augustana community after break. The event date is to be announced. We invite any and all members of the community that have anything to say about Yik Yak, the protests, etc. to attend.

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Change missing after protests