Sunday, August 1, 2021

Group looks for change

Black Onyx has coordinated the “How Do We Become More Comfortable?” march and alumni panel to coincide with homecoming weekend. The march will take place today at 3 p.m., starting behind Sibley Hall and ending at Hawkins Pond. The panel will be held Saturday in Yokum Hall 202 at 11 a.m.

Black Onyx member Mamie Bah said they group held a similar march last year but decided to move it to homecoming weekend to involve alumni who feel passionately about bringing diversity and change to the Plattsburgh State community.

“There were a lot of alumni that wanted to be involved and I feel like moving it to homecoming weekend gives alumni who felt passionate, or felt like there needed to be more change in the community and on campus, a chance to be apart of that movement.”

Bah chose alumni panel speakers in coordination with the Alumni Relations Office to find suitable candidates.

“With this being such a sensitive topic, I didn’t want a panel of all African Americans, or all Caucasians or all heterosexual people. I wanted it to be very diverse,” Bah said.

The alumni panel will include key speakers. Adam Rabideau ‘04, Greg Riley ‘77, Dinai Robertson ‘16, and Aaron Schwartz ‘11.

Bah said it was important to chose alumni from different eras to provide different perspectives on diversity and how it has changed on the PSUC campus over time.

“Someone who graduated in ‘77 will look at the campus and say ‘OK this is pretty diverse because when I was here there weren’t many people like me who were on campus.’”

She said although the PSUC community has made large strides concerning diversity over time, current students will still argue that there is room for change and improvement.
“I feel like it gives a different perspective and we really need that,” Bah said.

Center for Diversity Pluralism and Inclusion Staff Assistant and PSUC alumni Aaron Schwartz said he feels honored to speak at Saturday’s panel.

“I’m a big fan of a lot of what Black Onyx has been doing over the years and they asked me to support them and I am always happy to do that.”

Schwartz, who also plans to participate in today’s march, said he was still planning his discussion points, but the content also depends on audience questions and discussion.

“I’m hopeful that it won’t be just current students who will be coming to talk about some of their experiences but also alumni,” Schwartz said.

Bah also said this comparison between past and present will also allow current students or more recent graduates to discuss opportunities for future changes on campus.

“I look forward to once again having the opportunity to stand alongside students who are trying to make this a better community.” Schwartz said, “One that is more accepting of people of different races, sexual orientations and socioeconomic standings.”

Email Marissa Russo

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