Nearly 300 UConn students gathered in the wind and rain Thursday afternoon to show solidarity with movements against racism happening on other campuses across the country.
Standing on UConn’s official seal at the center of Fairfield Way, students demonstrated support for their peers at the University of Missouri and students at other campuses, both locally and nationally, who have been affected by racism.
With approximately 400 RSVPs on the event’s Facebook page prior to its commencement, excitement about the event, as well as the subsequent march at 7 p.m., was palpable.
The description of the event on its Facebook page said that, “We are trying to unite UCONN and provide a safe space for those experiencing intolerance. As many of you know, racism and other forms of hatred has once again become a point of ‘discussion’ and division at our school and schools across the country. Clearly it is still a problem and won't go away, unless we make a collective statement that we will not tolerate intolerance and bigotry at our campus.”
The two-part event began with the afternoon Speak Out, followed by a “blackout” march later that night, which was connected with similar events throughout the United States.
UConn President Susan Herbst sent an email to the student body in support of the Speak Out and march hours before the event, similar to what she did before the Islamophobia protest that took place in Storrs on Monday.
“First, the on-campus events: at 3 p.m. today, students and other members of the community will gather at the UConn Oak Leaf seal on Fairfield Way (near the Babbidge Library) for a ‘Speak Out’ event called ‘UConn Standing With Mizzou,’ which will include personal stories,” the email, in which Herbst encouraged campus community members to come out, read.
When asked why Herbst decided to attend this specific event and not others like it last year, she told The Daily Campus that prior obligations prevented her from attending.
“I’m always interested in the students, so I don’t know when that protest was or -” at this point, Herbst’s deputy chief of staff Michael Kirk, cut in; “There was one to Gulley Hall, but I think you were on the road that day,” to which Herbst responded: “Yeah, I must have been. I’ve talked about these issues with students a lot, and I’m happy to be here.”
“We put the statement out to get out a big crowd, and underscore its importance to the campus, this and other events today, and I thought we did a good job – mostly the students – of getting the word out on Monday," Herbst added. "I’m here to listen, I’m here to hear people’s stories,” Herbst added.
Read the full story at The Daily Campus.