The Gatepost Editorial: A comprehensive response to racism

Hate crimes around the country are on the rise, and the FSU campus is no exception. Racist graffiti was found in Horace Mann since the fall of 2017. 

Black women – the targets of the recent hate crime – and many students of color expressed concern regarding the administrative response and the safety of students of color on campus, as reported by The Gatepost in the coverage of the recent hate crime. 

But the administrators, for the most part, seem to earnestly believe their collective response is enough for students. In an interview with The Gatepost, President F. Javier Cevallos said he thinks the administrators are doing all that they can, but students don’t seem to feel the same way.

During the Q&A of Crystal Fleming’s talk, “How to be Less Stupid about Race,” sophomore Carlos Barbosa said administrators were not responsive to student concerns. 

Perhaps administrators could take to heart the three action steps Fleming had for addressing racism:

1. Remedy our racial ignorance.  

2. Organize for collective action. 

3. Get comfortable with the discomfort of disturbing racism. 

Fleming argued racial ignorance can be combated through ongoing educational opportunities for students. Comprehensive education is the key here. 

We shouldn’t be applying bias training like a band aid when hate crimes happen.The University should take the tactics they’ve already employed – the talks, administrator dialogues, in-person bias training and education – and make them consistent features on campus. 

When the administration hosted a “unity workshop” and dialogues following the 2017 hate crimes, sometimes only five or six students showed up – and that’s including Gatepost reporters. And it seems as if the same faces are showing up at these events up again and again. 

So, let’s make the culture of active anti-racism so ubiquitous that it isn’t something students need to opt into or make time for. Let’s not have these community discussions be the sole burden of campus affinity groups. It needs to be a consistent, unavoidable education. 

Several years ago, FSU had a mandatory diversity course requirement within the GenEd system that was deemed unnecessary and removed when the current GenEd system was implemented.

This GenEd requirement must be reintroduced. 

For impressionable college students, it seems like a no-brainer to expose young people to courses that challenge the status quo of the American educational system and teach about the structural elements of our society that have helped racism endure. 

In the past, there has been collective action and education on our campus regarding issues of racism – events not planned in response to incidents of hate, but as moments of social education for the community. 

In 2016, faculty members across campus created and participated in the Black Lives Matter teach in. Throughout the week, 76 professors included aspects of the African American experience in their courses. A total of 135 classes participated in the teach in, as reported by The Gatepost. 

Three hundred students participated in a forum following the teach in where they shared the impactful experiences they had in their classes. 

Events like this can’t be a one and done. 

The University can and should play a huge part in creating a holistic education, but students also hold the burden of participating – and not just students of color. The administration can make classes mandatory, but they can’t make students engage or learn. 

Students should meet any good faith efforts from the University with a willingness to engage in order to face that discomfort Fleming identified and eradicate a culture that accepts racist behaviors. 

Only through our community’s collaboration and investment can we change our campus environment.