The VSU community was disturbed by the choice of an individual to scribble a hateful statement across the stall in a Lowndes Hall bathroom last Friday. Student reactions were mixed, though all seemed to disagree with the statement, some students were less shocked by the discovery than others.
The office of the president and SGA both immediately condemned the graffiti, and on Monday, President Richard Carvajal penned his own letter to the “VSU family” about the event. In his letter, he stressed his commitment to inclusion and applauded VSU students for their willingness to embrace diversity overall.
Still, a group of students marched through campus to the president’s office on Tuesday to protest the hateful act and the perceived lack of inclusion on campus. The group’s anger sprouted from a feeling among students that VSYOU only cares for VS’SOME’
Our editorial staff would like to ask VSU students this: What more can be done to increase inclusion on campus and discourage hateful actions?
Students may see administrators asking them to refrain from posting pictures of the graffiti online as sweeping the issue under the rug, and it does probably help VSU keep the picture’s reach to a minimum. But keeping the image from being widely circulated also keeps the perpetrator(s) from getting the attention they most likely wanted, and the image is truly offensive to anyone who may see it while scrolling through social media, so it should have been taken down.
Furthermore, President Carvajal said that he himself would be available to discuss the issue with any students who wanted to voice their concerns—though his message to the students could have come too late after the incident.
Since 2006, VSU’s student body has continually become more diverse, with the amount of white students attending the university falling by 20 percent and the amount of minorities rising. Most notably, according to the VSU factbook, the number of black students attending VSU increased by about 54 percent between 2006 and 2015.
Even though protesters may feel underrepresented in the VSYOU campaign, three out of four members of the SGA executive board are people of color, and, up until a week ago, all of the exec board members were. The SGA board is supposed to be the ultimate voice of the students. It is in essence the student’s representation to the administration.
VSU is a college of diversity. Though in the past the president’s office has made a few decisions that seemed to go against some groups on campus: the Donald Trump rally and the Spring 2015 flag incident to name two instances. Dr.Carvajal has a chance to speak out for students, and he seems ready to do so.
Students, the SGA is a sorely underutilized resource on campus. They are our representatives, and we should use them in times like these. Protesting is a useful tool guaranteed us through the first amendment, so protest if you wish, but look at yourself first. The conversation this vandalism and subsequent protest has sparked should make each VSU student look at themselves and the organizations they are personally a part of. If activities on campus seem segregated, ask yourself why, and work to make things more inclusive.
Though the administration is charged with creating a safe space for students to learn and share ideas, it is truly up to the student body to make sure the VS’SOME’ experience becomes VS’US’