Statement for change

By: Morgan Webb, Staff writer

In an effort to show their support and stand up against recent acts of discrimination, the faculty of Lebanon Valley College wrote and displayed a statement and placed it in the quad for signing and viewing.

The statement was written as part of the “#LVC4Change” movement that took place Nov. 16 when over 800 people gathered on Sheridan Avenue and marched around campus. The statement stressed the importance of unity and gave a voice to the faculty of LVC on the issue of discrimination.

“I suggested to a group of faculty leaders that we should draft a statement in support of the students, and they moved into action very quickly,” Dr. Catherine Romagnolo, Associate Professor of English, said. “Professors Valgenti, Sayers, Hinshaw, Guzman and I all worked on drafting the letter. I was so pleased to have so much support from my colleagues.”

“We stand by you as professors, colleagues, mentors and friends. We pledge to work with you to support the networks of activism, education, and creativity you have already begun building and organizing — all of which make LVC and the world a better place for the future,” the statement read.

The statement was not in the quad very long before it received plenty of attention and dozens of signatures.

“It was originally written as a letter on behalf of faculty, but eventually students and staff started signing it as well,” Dr. Robert Valgenti, Associate Professor of Sociology, said. “Regardless of where people’s political allegiances are, it was a way for people to show support. Emotions were high and it had a real tactile and grounded feeling toward it.”

The march as a whole was deemed a success due to the impressive turnout and positivity that was expressed by the students at the College. Not only did the faculty support the march, but they were pleased to see the large amount of participation.

“The number of people who showed up in support of anti-hatred activism took my breath away and gave me enormous hope for the future of our community,” Romagnolo said.

Courtney Wilt, a senior physical therapy major, attended the march and was also impressed by the turnout. She attributes the success of the movement not only to the students who attended, but also to the faculty as well.

“I do think that the support of the faculty, staff, and administration gave an extra edge to the success of the march,” Wilt said. “I think it helped a lot of people realize that we are not just naive young people complaining about life being tough. We are an entire community united for this cause.”

Perhaps the most shocking aspect of the march was the amount of backlash that occurred on social media from members of the community. After videos of the event were posted on the Facebook page of the Lebanon Daily News, it became clear that not everyone supported the cause.

“People are emboldened by anonymity,” Valgenti said. “I would encourage [the negative commenters] to talk to the students and faculty in person. It’s too easy to throw jabs from the safety of social media.”

“To be completely honest, I am so disgusted and saddened and appalled by the responses of the community to the footage of our march that has been posted online,” Wilt said. “I think that a lot of people in this world could benefit from a greater sense of humanity. Stop spreading hate and try to be more open minded to the positive change we are trying to make.”

Romagnolo sees the negative comments as an indication that the protest served its purpose.

“The fact that there has been backlash indicates that the protest was heard loud and clear,” Romagnolo said. “They heard that we will no longer accept the status quo of silence in the face of bigotry and hatred.”

Despite the variety of opinions surrounding the march, it was clear that the event resulted in unity among the members of the LVC community, including the faculty and staff.