“Nothing is as effective as it could be unless there is action,” Dr. Darryl Mace, associate professor and chair of the history and political science department, said as he moderated an open forum held by Cabrini student leaders.
The Colleges’ Black Student Union (BSU) and Student Government Association (SGA) held an open forum on Tuesday, January 22 to address the bias-related incidents that occurred during the fall semester. Dr. Mace set the tone for the seminar-style event by stressing the importance of taking action to around 60 students, faculty, and staff.
Although many staff and faculty were there, including President Marie George, Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Dr. Anne Skleder, Dean of Academic Affairs Dr. Jeffrey Gingerich and Dean of Students George Stroud.
“I love that it was generated by students,” Dr. Skleder said. “I think it’s really important that the students spoke and that we were quiet for a change.”
Many students opened up and shared not only their own experiences, but also how these bias-related incidents affected themselves and the Cabrini community as a whole.
“As an RA, it makes me feel like there’s something I’m not doing right,” junior Ashlee Grazier said. “Are these the people we’re raising?”
The sense of community was a strong theme throughout the night as numerous students stated how they believe that the solution to dealing with these biased related events stems from a community effort.
“So if we as a community, look at these situations and say we’re going to react by loving that person who’s been hurt and supporting them, then they’re going to know that this one anonymous person can hate all they want, we’re going to love you anyway and we’re going to support you as a community and that that’s not who we are,” sophomore Mario Marino said. “I think that harbors the type of community we would want to live in.”
The end of the discussion focused on future plans and solutions that could stop this kind of behavior before it gets worse. Many students wanted to see new policies go in place while others were happy with any conversation started in the classroom. An important idea was the strength of peer influence.
“I think what was clear is that policy is part of it, peer influence is part of it, the faculty and staff learning from this is part of it,” Dr. Skleder said. “This needs to be the beginning of a much larger conversation and a much larger effort and I stand ready to help in any way as we move forward.”
Even though both students and faculty stressed that some sort of action needs to be taken, this forum was the first step and would not have happened if sophomore Terri Allen did not propose the idea. At the end of the day, any change starts with the students that speak up.
“If we could change the way that we think of what’s important to talk about and tell the next person then maybe we could change that, so that things like bias-related incidents aren’t what’s being talked about,” Marino said, “because at the end of the four years when we leave, this is our school and we want to be proud of it.”