The Center for Inclusive Excellence hosted a discussion on Dec. 13, concerning the recent spree of hate crimes targeting black students on campus.
The talk, titled, “In My Shoes,” was hosted by junior Iyla Driggs, with the aim of reflecting on the reality of being a student of color at FSU.
Driggs urged students to reach out beyond usual boundaries and unite our divided community through respectful, informed sharing of local racial history. Her hope is to not just change the minds of those who may perpetuate or condone such attacks but to change their hearts as well.
However, the most immediate concern for those in attendance was safety.
“Raise your hand if you feel unsafe on this campus,” Driggs said to the room of around 30 to 40 students and faculty. Nearly every hand shot up immediately.
“What we need to think about is safety. … What makes these attacks different here than on other campuses? It is a form of hazing – a constant recurring attack. You hear about these sorts of things happening at other schools but they are isolated incidents,” Driggs said.
Many students felt that if they were to increase their visibility on campus, there would be a risk they could be targeted as well.
“My day-to-day interactions with people have changed – I took my name off my door. I shouldn’t have to live with this fear,” Driggs said.
One student expressed anger at the fact that the perpetrators have yet to be caught and the student body hasn’t heard any new developments since the middle of November.
Lorretta Holloway, vice president of Enrollment and Student Development, also expressed frustration at the slow response to the attacks.
“I’m exhausted every day, waiting for phone calls from the police, from the administration. … It’s an ugly world, and it’s hard not to feel ugly in it, but you are all beautiful to me. What they want is for all of us to go away, but we can’t let them have that. We can’t give in,” Holloway said.
Holloway also expressed the need for students to be bold and speak up about the incidents, to let the attackers know that their behavior will not be tolerated.
“From my perspective, it’s hard. Sometimes you can’t change people. You have to let them know they are in the wrong. You have to make them feel outnumbered – that they’re the ones that need to back away,” Holloway said.
There is also a need for more advocates for students of color at FSU, according to Driggs.
“We students have to rely on each other, to comfort one another, when it shouldn’t even be like that. We can’t be everywhere at once.”