Few students attend healing service

Millie González spoke to a crowd at the Memorial Grove on Dec. 13. Photo Credit: Corey McFeeley

A nondenominational healing service was held at Memorial Grove outside Larned Hall on Dec. 13 in response to the series of hate crimes on campus.

The service was planned in the wake of the fifth hate crime reported on campus this semester.

The most recent hate crime took place in Corinne Hall Towers. All five of the hate crimes have targeted black students.

President F. Javier Cevallos opened the service by saying hate is not part of the University’s values.

In an email to the FSU community, Cevallos said, “To the person(s) responsible for the acts of racism that have occurred this semester, I want you to know that you do not share our community’s values. You do not belong at FSU.”

At the service, Cevallos said he hopes to “continue the conversation on racism and all other-isms in an honest and transparent way.”

University chaplains Thomas Chestnut and Kristelle Angelli, as well as Imam Asadur Rahman from a local mosque, Masjid-E-Basheer, were invited to give short sermons.

Chestnut said, “Diversity is a miracle of God.”

Rahman spoke about civil rights leader Malcolm X and recited Arabic passages from the Qur’an.

Millie González, interim chief officer of diversity, inclusion and community engagement, along with Emmanuella Gibson, co-chair of the Council on Diversity and Inclusion, performed Maya Angelou’s poem “Still I Rise.”

About 20-25 staff and faculty members attended the service. Although the invitation was extended to the entire FSU community, fewer than 10 students attended.

Towards the end of the service, junior Iyla Driggs, organizer of the campus-wide protest in October, briefly came to observe.

“It was pointless,” Driggs said. “How are we supposed to feel united when it was healing for faculty and staff, not the students?”

Driggs spoke about the impact the incidents hadon students, especially students of color, and said the service was only about “making the president look good.”

There were several news stations present at the event, including Boston 25 News and WCVB-TV. They later took comments from Cevallos, Driggs and others present.

González apologized for the heavier-than-expected media presence, saying she “didn’t know they would all be here.”

Both González and Cevallos said they were pleased with the turnout given the chilly temperatures. González said she thinks it was important the service was held outside “in the open” because of the significance of Memorial Grove.

“A little cold is not going to stop us,” González added.

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