The Collegian
Monday, August 15, 2022

Students stage social equality protest in dining hall

<p>Protestors calling for social justice hold posters in the Heilman Dining Center at Sunday night's demonstration. </p>

Protestors calling for social justice hold posters in the Heilman Dining Center at Sunday night's demonstration. 

Sunday night during Midnight Munchies, the pre-finals extended hours in Heilman Dining Center, a group of at least 20 people protested issues of social and racial equality.

Posters included messages such as "Check Your Privilege," "We Can't Breathe" and the trending hashtag "Black Lives Matter." Students provided posters and markers for anyone interested to make a sign and join them.

Within the last month, the killings of Michael Brown and Eric Garner have seized national headlines and sparked conversations nationwide. Senior Destiny Smith and junior Josh Murray said they didn't want the protest to revolve around any one national headline. They said they had organized the demonstration to inform students about racial injustices and raise awareness over many social injustices.

"We are supposed to be an intellectual campus. The entire campus as a student population should stand against this kind of stuff," Murray said.

“Ferguson is still controversial,” he said. “We still don’t know exactly what happened, and it could go either way. This is not limited to Ferguson."

Murray said he wanted the presentation of the demonstration to reflect its scope. Rather than voicing the perspective of a specific campus organization, the protest aimed to inspire a broader student-led cultural movement.

“This is about social justice and equality for everyone," Smith said.

"It's not that people don't care because obviously we as people care,” Smith said. "It's just that someone has to spark that interest. Someone has to show I'm willing to put this together."

Thursday evening, the Black Student Alliance held the first formal discussions on campus about issues surrounding the Ferguson events. Salam Yemeru, BSA president, said the goal of the event had been to provide a space for students to voice their thoughts and opinions to open ears.

"In terms of here on campus, I think there are a lot of issues at a smaller scale but still things that students need to be aware of," said Kenton Meronard, senior and president of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. "I think these larger issues outside can help us to reflect on what's going on here and improve our campus." 

Freshman Miranda Rosenblum attended Thursday's discussion and participated in the protest Sunday night.

"What struck me was how many students did not know what we were protesting," Rosenblum said. The protest was essential to have on campus to bring awareness. I hope that the hundreds of university students who walked past us Sunday night will begin to think critically and deeply."

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The demonstration lasted from about 10 p.m. to midnight. Those protesting encouraged others to sign up for an email newsletter to facilitate future protests. Smith said students who passed through the dining hall had been receptive to the information the demonstration provided.

“I think we spread a lot of awareness tonight,” Smith said. “People asked questions about what exactly is going on, and we’ve been telling people, so I think it’s just good for people to kind of open their eyes.”

Contact Editor-In-Chief Clayton Helms at clay.helms@richmond.edu and reporter Eunice Brumskine at eunice.brumskine@richmond.edu

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