Banners aim to support minority students

first_imgIn response to a wave of student activism on college campuses across the country, including protests against police shootings of black civilians and demands for racial equality, several student groups hung Black Lives Matter banners along Trousdale Parkway. The banners, which were hung on Nov. 17, were a joint effort between Graduate Student Government and Undergraduate Student Government in partnership with the Center for Black Cultural & Student Affairs, Asian Pacific American Student Services, El Centro Chicano and the LGBT Resource Center.These organizations began working on the idea for the banners in September. They were inspired by a similar movement at the University of Vermont, where a Black Lives Matter flag was raised on a spare flagpole. GSG Vice President Kris Coombs brought the idea forward, and GSG voted unanimously to approve it. The proposal was then passed in the GSG Senate and sponsored by USG. The banners then went through an extensive process carried out by the University administration to make sure they fit the rules and regulations for on-campus banners.“When the idea was first generated, it was more like this just needs to happen because we just need to boost our support,” Coombs said. “We’d seen and heard a lot of the very divisive rhetoric that had been used in [President-elect Donald] Trump’s campaign, we’d seen the way that the issues of minority population had been pushed to the side, even in [Hillary Clinton’s] campaign.”GSG Diversity Chair Claudia Chirino said the banners were important in order to make minority students on campus feel supported.“Many are facing hate crimes in schools around the nation,” Chirino said. “We want to show that these students are not alone.”Both USG and GSG have prepared for any backlash surrounding the banners, and some have already expressed concern, although much of the reaction from the student body has been positive.“We got a couple of emails [from] students voicing concern,” Coombs said. “Some students felt like it was not appropriate because they thought it would be just as valid to raise ‘all lives matter’ flags or ‘blue lives matter’ flags. We did hear their concerns and we tried to discuss with them the evolution of Black Lives Matter.”Coombs said the banners are the first step of what he hopes will develop into a larger administrative role in protecting underrepresented classes of USC students and addressing their concerns, especially after Trump’s victory.“Where I would like to see the University step up is being very proactive and reassuring the students who might be most directly impacted by the immigration policies or taxation policies  that their futures at USC are safe and secure,” Coombs said. Moreover, Coombs urged the administration to make a public statement reaffirming its commitment to help students put at risk during a Donald Trump presidency, and to sever its connection to donors or trustees who do not support this view. “I think at some point, we have to decide who and what we’re willing to sacrifice to help others and what we’re willing to sacrifice to help ourselves,” Coombs said. “The University needs to be willing, if necessary, to cut ties with the people who are not going to put the students first.” The banners were put up shortly after cities across the nation, as well as USC’s campus, saw discriminatory incidents following Trump’s victory. At the Rossier School of Education, a piece of paper saying “Black Lives Matter” tacked on a corkboard was quickly crossed out and replaced with “All Lives Matter,” and two USC students were called “n-gger” shortly after the election, Coombs said. Coombs said that integrating support for minority students into the classroom will help minimize and eliminate further hate crimes.“Statements look nice, they make for good news stories, [but] I don’t think that’s enough,” Coombs said. “I think what it really takes is direct programming … that needs to permeate through all the academic courses, all the extracurriculars. It needs to be part of the culture at USC.” The banners are reserved for a two-week period and scheduled to be taken down on Dec. 1. USG and GSG are working to get the banners on campus again in the spring semester.last_img

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