FSU responds to hate crimes during Homecoming weekend

By Aaliyah Colon

Staff Writer

Hundreds of students, their families and alumni attended events in celebration of Homecoming on the weekend of Oct. 20, said Eric Gustafson, executive director of alumni relations. 

The weekend was filled with sporting events, alumni meetings and family activities open to everyone.

The events started on Friday, Oct. 20 and continued throughout Saturday.

A pep rally was held on Friday night and was one of the first Homecoming activities.

Free Homecoming T-shirts and pom-poms, supplied by SGA, were distributed to attendees.

The rally began with a performance from the cheerleaders. Then, each fall sports team was introduced.

Each team gave a brief speech to the crowd. Some teams gave a summary of their season so far and other teams encouraged the crowd to attend their games.

Ciarra Bulgar, a sophomore, said she appreciated the positive focus of football player Campbell Marchant’s speech. “I liked how he said we had a rough weekend” due to the hate crimes “and it’s supposed to be homecoming and he said he wanted us to stay positive and kick butt!”

Emmanuella Konadu, a freshman, said, “I was shocked by how short it was. In high school, I remember the pep rallies being much longer.”

Later Friday night, the Moonlight Breakfast was held in the dining hall from 10 p.m. until midnight.

Breakfast food was served and student DJs from the school’s radio station, WDJM, played music in the dining hall.

During the dinner, Jackson Stevens, a senior, spoke about the hate crimes that recently happened on campus. Other students accompanied him to stand in solidarity near the DJ table.

In an interview, Stevens said, “What’s happening on campus is disgusting. This has been happening every year I’ve been at Framingham and it’s getting worse. … All students need to speak up and say this is a problem, because if the same students always speak up, they will get tired of the energy being spent with nothing happening. Forums are good and all, but don’t get any results.”

Stevens said everyone must not forget the horrible crimes that happened and to continue to fight to end hate, especially on campus.

Olivia Mangue, a junior, said, “I like that Jackson got up and spoke. I appreciate allies that are willing to take a stand for people of color without silencing us and our views as well.”

On Saturday morning, the Alumni Association Board of Directors’ annual meeting was held in the Alumni Room of the McCarthy Center.

Gustafson described the board as “the leadership body for alumni.”

The meeting was open to the public so the board members could share their plans for the upcoming year.

The recent hate crimes that occurred on campus were also discussed at the meeting.

President F. Javier Cevallos provided information about the hate crimes and explained the actions the University is taking to address them.

He said, “We decided to have an open forum for the community and the idea was to listen to what the students had to say, and so we did. And then, we have had a few other meetings with different student groups.

“So, the next steps that we are taking is that we are in the process of engaging with a consultant who will come from outside to really work with everyone so we can do some sensitivity training.”

He added, “We continue to stress the fact that racism is the result of ignorance more than anything else, and hatred has no place in our community.”

He also said he would continue to keep the alumni updated on the incidents and any actions the University takes going forward.

Jeff Ritter, president of the Alumni Association Board of Directors, gave an overall report on the plans the Alumni Association has for the future.

The leaders of the Alumni Association committees gave their reports and discussed plans for the year.

The board also discussed different fundraisers the Alumni Association has sponsored.

Board member Kelly Sardella spoke about the Association’s Career Networking Committee. This committee is working on programs that will help prepare students for their careers after graduation.

She said, “We talked about getting a group of experts of alumni from all different areas. They could have different office hours where students could come and ask questions. They could also give them some skills on how to interview and how to dress for an interview.”

Board members Dennis Alves and Kathleen Shepherd presented about the Association’s emergency fund for students experiencing financial distress.

Juan Rodriguez, vice president of the board, said, “This fund was generated from the board because we saw a need to extend the support for students beyond what the University already has in place.”

Susanne Conley, board member and alumna, spoke about fundraisers organized by members of the board. “An example of that was the selling of the history books at the June reunion. … We raised $600 in two hours,” she said.

The books detailed the history of Framingham State.

Gustafson added another fundraiser hosted during Homecoming weekend was the selling of commemorative bricks, which will be placed in front of the library.

He said, “With it being Homecoming, we thought it was the right audience to sell the bricks.”

Andrew Sciaba, an alumnus from the class of 2009, was recruited to join the board.

Rodriguez said, “He’s been involved in various alumni activities, including the golf tournament and some fundraising for the University.”

Members unanimously voted to approve his nomination.

After the vote, Sciaba said, “I really love this place. It is really a place you can be proud of.”

Gustafson said, “Homecoming is such a long-standing tradition at Framingham State. Alumni know about it. They love Homecoming.”

Joseph Casey, an alumnus, said, “Homecoming is special. … Just being with all of my friends is what really makes it feel like home.”

The last events of Homecoming weekend were the three home games on Saturday.

Field Hockey played Western Connecticut State at 4 p.m. and lost by a score of 4-2. Men’s Soccer played Worcester State University at 7 p.m. and lost 3-0. Football played Westfield State University at 12 p.m. at Bowditch Field. The final score was 29-14, Framingham State.

Thomas Kelley, athletic director and head football coach, said the crowds and fan base are much larger on Homecoming weekend.

Bianca Reyas, a junior, said, “There were definitely more people this year than when I went to the game my freshman year.”

Nasir Thomas, a wide receiver for the football team, said, “Homecoming is always a big game regardless of who we’re playing. The crowd is always full and pumps the players up.”

Bob Julio, an alumnus, said, “It’s great to come back and see all my friends and watch a good football game.”

Deron Hines, a defensive lineman for the football team, said, “Homecoming makes us athletes play harder. It really shows the extensiveness of our little community – how even through what seemed to be the worst of times for this campus, people can come together and show support for the teams.”

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