Photo by Athena Pajer (Athena Pajer)
Photo by Athena Pajer

Athena Pajer

Editorial: On Millikin’s Response to BLM Protests – What Else We Need To Do

June 5, 2020

Millikin University’s campus finds itself sitting in one of the country’s stable places. Decatur has remained relatively safe throughout the past few months. We have had below-average coronavirus cases, no reported incidents of police violence against protesters, and, though a few stores have suffered broken windows this week, destruction has been contained.

In Decatur, we can go to the grocery store with a cloth mask and expect to be safe.

That’s good for the campus, but that means it is removed from countless students who are in harm’s way—and it shows.

Students living where there is protester/police violence can’t go to the grocery store with 100% certainty that they will be safe. They don’t just need protection from COVID-19, but from tear gas and bullets and angry people who want them dead.

Danger is right outside of their doors.

Millikin’s official responses to the students in the wake of this danger, so far, have been emails from President Patrick White and Vice President of Campus Life and Dean of Students Raphaella Prange.

They are showing awareness of privilege and promise to combat systemic issues. The Decaturian staff believes in what Prange and White have to say. We do need to engage in self-reflection. We do need to actively seek to be anti-racist. We do need to reach out to those in need.

Most importantly: they did acknowledge that this danger—though extreme—is not isolated. It is systemic. Black people have not felt the same safety as White people for over 400 years.

Now for the not-so-easy-to-hear part: these messages are not urgent enough. The response is not strong enough or timely enough. That’s not just coming from us: that’s from countless students. These messages are not as strong as they need to be.

Part of this reason is that countless members of the Millikin community are working to help. Students, coaches, faculty members, administrators, and many others—not only are they helping each other in a time of emergency, but they want the equality the United States promises to be realized. Finally. Forever.

And this is not an easy task. People are losing sleep. They are butting their heads right up against a 400-year-old monster. They are the heroes of this story.

The Decaturian wants to help, so the Decaturian will be acting through a few core beliefs:

  • Young people can change the world.
  • We need to listen to each other to do so.
  • We need to care—deeply—every day.
  • We need to practice what we preach.

Therefore, we have a message:

To Vice President Prange, President White, and incoming President Reynolds: please tell us what you are doing more quickly and frequently. Be transparent. We know you want to help. We know you can help. We just need to see the evidence that you care with our own eyes. That is what democratic citizenship takes. You taught us that.

We are all on the same team.

We want all of our readers to act, too.

Don’t treat this like a normal summer. Don’t put up with anyone—even your loved ones—spreading ideas that reek of white privilege. Don’t let them off the hook even if they are your parents.

Please, do not tune out the world. Do not tune out Millikin. Do not tune out your fellow students. Do not go silent.

Even if it makes you scared to stand up to the world, feel the danger and the urgency of the world in your hearts. Listen to the voices who are telling you that they are scared, too. Make their voices louder by sharing what they need, too. Respond with love. Respond with change.

The world is changing, anyway. Make it better. You have the power to do that.

 

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