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Students unite to fight racism on campus

Edited By Grace Haglund
A student who reported the stop sign to the WSU administration on Oct. 9 captured this photo of the incident.

Students gathered in the Shepherd Union building on Oct. 16 to protest discriminatory vandalism in different areas on Weber State University’s campus. This included a stop sign near the Dee Events Center with racist slurs written on it, a table in the Shepherd Union with a swastika drawn on it and another swastika on a table at Davis Campus.

Salayellece Neal, a WSU student and event coordinator in the Black Cultural Center, took charge of the protest and encouraged students to pick up printed articles relating to instances of racism at WSU stemming back to 2017.

“We are standing here providing articles showing where WSU has and is still allowing racism to happen,” Neal said.

Neal alleged that the stop sign was reported to the WSU administration by a Black student on Oct. 9, with many students not receiving any information or alerts from the institution about the incident. She was also part of a diversity and inclusion meeting held by the administration on Oct. 13 to speak about the vandalism.

Neal said that during the meeting a student asked why the Code Purple app, WSU’s emergency notification system, is not used to alert students of racist vandalism on campus.

“The vice president, Jessica Oyler, said that it was not an immediate emergency for students on campus,” Neal said.

Neal, along with other students of color, said that having to look at vandalism like this is “disrespectful” and “inconsiderate.” Neal and students from the Black Student Union created a call to action they’d like to see put into effect.

The requests are listed below:
Give us a Black Student Union and take it seriously, as well as the Black Cultural Center. Put someone into the position of both so that we are heard and not ignored by the WSU administration.
Be sure that students who participate in hate groups/hate speech are being held accountable.
Update students on “launched investigations” and be more vocal about the situation.
Educate yourself. Understand why Black students want this change and continue to ask for this change. Hold sessions of education where students themselves can learn about our culture without bias.

Nyanuer Yom, a student and member of BSU, took part in the protest on Oct. 16 and displayed feelings of disappointment.

“We feel that WSU loves to advertise Black students attending the institution, yet we are not respected on the same level as our peers,” Yom said.

Yom said the university may even be using students of color as a marketing strategy to get more people to register.

“There are students of color on many WSU banners throughout campus, but I still do not feel safe in this community, and our skin color is being used to portray a false image,” Yom said.

It was revealed in a student senate meeting on Oct. 16 that there was a coding issue with the alert sent out to students about the stop sign.

Jessica Oyler, vice president of Student Access and Success, said students who had their WSU announcement notifications set weekly didn’t receive information regarding the incident. There were no problems with the other alerts, however.

“We are currently looking at how to fix this issue and make sure all informative alerts go out when they should,” Oyler said.

Oyler has a goal of keeping ongoing conversations with students about what has been happening on campus and what the WSU administration can do for them.

“We don’t want students to feel that this is a one-and-done type of situation,” Oyler said. “We want to keep the conversation going so that we make sure everyone is heard and situations like these are acted upon.”

Brandon Flores, executive director for belonging, has been working with students and the WSU administration to find a balance.

“We as an institution can do a better job of communicating and responding to these matters, our students want to see a change,” Flores said.

Flores also suggested that a support advisor for students be implemented in the BCC, to be there for them in times like this. He also has plans of helping to get the BCC furnished and set up to welcome Black students.

Flores detailed that there will be a Black faculty and staff coalition created once the BCC is completely ready. A new Interim Black Cultural Center Manager, Yolanda Luis, has also been appointed to oversee the BCC.

“This will be a powerful message for all students on campus, as a form of support that can be gathered in a space where students can see it,” Flores said.

Flores said the students of today are more vocal than when he attended WSU in his youth. He feels that students should be exercising this right to create change but not fight each other in the process.

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Lucas Moore, News reporter
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