Students banded together on the campus of Plattsburgh State, bringing to light perceptions of long-standing social injustice problems within the campus community. The unification of student voices highlighted the intiative of student activists.
The social media feeds, the sit-in at the Angell College Center, the student marching and the campus community forums illuminated the different ways students engage in advocating for the equality of minority groups on campus.
The perceived lack of concern from administration in regards to the recent racist threat spread through Snapchat by a white PSUC student served as the protest’s catalyst and continues to fuel further changes in the campus community.
“If students didn’t come and did what they did, we wouldn’t have things happening now going forward,” said Daniel Hoshkehpazi, Student Association Vice President of Student Affairs and Diversity.
Activism does not only mean campaigning and protesting. Students advocate for minority groups on campus and around the world every day in the clubs and organizations they are a part of.
“There have been many situations where students have been silenced,” Kaitlynn Cortez said, an honorary member of Black Onyx and intern for the Center of Diversity, Pluralism and Inclusion (CDPI).
“My position in either the department with CDPI or on the board with my clubs, lets us come together to be that voice for students who lost theirs or feel as though they have been silenced,” Cortez said.
Other resources available to current or aspiring student activists are: The Student Association, Student Support Services and the Student Involvement Center.
Proactivity is a key requirement for being an activist. Initiative should be taken toward creating solutions instead of just recognizing a problem.
However, activism can come with emotional and mental tolls for students.
Students admitted to not having the right mental state to be in class, study for tests or complete assignments but instead needed to regain their strength.
“It’s very stressful,” Cortez said. “Not only are we students trying to get good grades and get our degrees, but we are trying to make our school a better place and fight for equality. We’re trying to get people to see us. It takes a toll on us mentally.”
Cortez, Hoshkehpazi and other students expressed their desires to collaborate with other clubs and organizations on campus to promote themselves as resources for students who need the mental and emotional support. They lean on and talk to each other in times such as these and any other time and want other students to know they are there for them as well.
President John Ettling emailed the campus community a list of 10 “tangible steps” he and his vice presidents presented to the Student Association Executive Council and have begun making efforts to, “Improve the campus climate and our expectations of each other and our region.”
Some of these steps include implementing a mandatory, live training on diversity and inclusion for all employees and creating a “Multi-Cultural Unity Space” in the Angell College Center.
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