By: Julia Brewer, Staff writer
More than 800 students and faculty of Lebanon Valley College marched together to spread positivity and promote change in response to several hate crimes and evidence of racial discrimination on campus.
Posters promoting racist propaganda and graffiti of racial slurs on campus buildings elicited a strong response and a call to action among LVC’s community.
“My immediate reaction was sadness and disgust,” Kara Strack, a senior biology major, said. “We should be loving one another and celebrating each other rather than tearing each other down.”
Tamara Baldwin, president of LVC’s Black Student Union (BSU), originally planned a walk-out, and LVC’s Student Government immediately supported the idea and worked to get more people involved.
Students and faculty were invited to participate in a walk-out at noon on November 16, followed by a march through campus promoting acceptance and change. The hashtag #LVC4Change was also created for students to share messages of positivity on social media. Many professors, administrators and other LVC faculty endorsed the event and encouraged their students to attend.
“I chose to participate in the march to show support in the movement of fighting hate and discrimination,” Strack said. “Rallying around those affected is the least we can do to show they’re not alone in wanting change to occur.”
In attendance were students, professors, coaches and President Lewis Thayne. The participants walked around campus, crossing Route 422 with the assistance of local police. The march ended outside the Women’s Services and Gender Resources house, where racist vandalism had taken place earlier in the week.
Attendees were given an opportunity to share their thoughts, experiences or offer words of encouragement. Many students from the BSU, Student Government, sports teams and other clubs took the opportunity to speak along with several faculty members.
“It is each and every one of our jobs as human beings on this earth to care about each other, and I don’t think that we should be thanked for actually doing that; it’s what you’re supposed to do,” Baldwin said.
“We do know that hate speech is not tolerated on this campus,” President Thayne said. “We are going to do what we need to do to make this campus a place where you feel safe, where you belong and where you feel you earned your place here.”
Moving forward, Student Government is in close communication with the BSU, Freedom Rings and other clubs on campus to plan future events that bring awareness to the problems on campus.