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Classic Signals: BSU holds emergency rally

Every week, Features Editor Jessica Ganga hits the archives and finds old Signals that relate to current College topics and top stories.

In 2000, students gather for an emergency rally. (Jessica Ganga / Features Editor)
In 2000, students gather for an emergency rally. (Jessica Ganga / Features Editor)

In the past week, students on college campuses across the country have been coming together to show solidarity with the University of Missouri (Mizzou). Mizzou’s students have been leading protests due to racial slurs and issues regarding how the administration has not been addressing the situation. The College’s Black Student Union (BSU) supported Mizzou on Monday, Nov. 16 by hosting a blackout where students dressed in all black to show solidarity. In 2000, Conor Fortune reported on a rally that BSU held in response to biased issues on our own campus.

In a rare moment of campus unity, a panel of administrators, faculty and students addressed a crowd of several hundred gathered for a rally outside the Student Center on issues surrounding recent biased incidents last Thursday afternoon.

The rally, organized by the Black Student Union (BSU) and the administration in direct response to a hate e-mail received by BSU on Wednesday, called for greater level of communication and accountability on behalf of all members of the campus community in discouraging biased events.

In an e-mail message to the campus community, Steve Briggs, provost and vice president for Academic Affairs stated the rally’s purpose and called for the cancellation of classes from 2:00 p.m. to 3:20 p.m. on Thursday. Among three confirmed biased incidents in Briggs’ e-mail was the main impetus for the rally — a hate e-mail sent to BSU.

“This is a horrific and vitriolic message,” said Briggs in his email. “I share the anger, sadness and concern of the students whom this message targets. I understand the fear.”

Speakers atop a stage set up outside the student center acknowledged this fear, sparked by the horrific biased events that have in recent weeks targeted minority groups and shaken the campus community’s sense of security. Poignant and impassioned remarks were interspersed with peals of applause.

Jamal Johnson, BSU vice president and junior elementary education and sociology major, addressed the gathering by saying, “Let it be known that March 9, 2000, students, faculty administration and staff came together to take a stand against ignorance.”

President R. Barbara Gitenstein called for a condemnation of biased acts that occur on this campus, which she described as “appalling, frightening and unacceptable.”

“We must, in a unified voice, let those who express threatening, racist sexist and homophobic messages know that we will respond to their words and deeds.” she said.

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