By JASE BRANDT and JESSE SHEPPARD, reporters
Friday, Dec. 7, 2018
This morning at 10 A.M., Sterling College hosted an open forum on racial awareness in Culbertson Auditorium. The forum was moderated by Reggie Langford, the Director of Academic Support, and it featured a panel of five Sterling College students.
Jason Briar, Sterling’s VP of Student Life discussed the vision of the forum.
“[To give] our students the opportunity to speak on this issue and for this college to listen and to discover new ways to grow and to develop this campus in a positive manner,” Briar said.
Theseus Anderson, a concerned student shared his thoughts with the panel.
“My experience at Sterling, I won’t say it’s been the worst, but it hasn’t been the best. They let us talk, but we aren’t really heard. In reality I’m just trying to have a conversation,” Anderson said.
Kalasia Thomas, a student on the panel said that gaining a voice in this issue was one of the reasons she became interested in the forum.
“I’ve realized that everything that has happened on campus recently, we need to talk about, and I realized that we wouldn’t get another chance to talk about it,” Thomas said, “I’ve learned to not only get my point across but listen to the other person. Having a discussion about it is the best way to try and understand where a person is coming from.”
Melvin Irby, a student on the panel discussed the importance of the forum and its possible impact on campus life.
“Sterling College is trying to put aside race,” Irby said, “The only thing different is that we’re taking a chance to make a difference.”
Josh Schievelbein, a current Sterling RA and student ambassador discussed the idea of racial awareness on campus.
“I think my thing for SC as a whole is awareness. Taking some time to have a conversation and how to react to negative situations. Figure out where they come from and finding out what their background is,” Schievelbein said.
Mike Merriweather, a Sterling College student voiced that some students don’t feel as if Sterling is a safe-haven for them.
“The minute I got here, it was the exact same as I had dealt with all my life. It’s supposed to be a safe haven for all our students, but many of us don’t feel that safe,” Merriweather said to the panel.
Layne Becker, a Sterling College student talked to the panel about keeping campus members accountable.
“I grew up in a small Kansas town. I learned a lot about our teammates and fellow classmates. My biggest thing with you guys saying that ‘you don’t feel safe on campus’ is the lack of accountability,” Becker said, “I feel that people should be held accountable. There needs to be action. With all of this being said, there are some things that need to change.”
Isaac Arvie III, a student on the panel compared racial insensitivity to an idea from the American Justice System.
“Ignorance of the law is no excuse. Just because you’re ignorant of how it may make someone feel, that’s no excuse.”
Panelist Kalasia Thomas talked about how to reach a place of discussion when emotional issues arise.
“You can’t really understand what a person may feel about something unless you sit down and have a conversation with them. Many people will take it the way they want to. Everybody is entitled to feel that way. They should go to that person or someone and ask ‘why aren’t you seeing this as important as me?’,” Thomas said.
Estephany Moncada, a student panelist at the forum discussed prejudice and forgiveness.
“We all have different types of prejudice; also we [Sterling] have students coming from very diverse areas. Right now I feel like there is a lot of divisions between the students,” Moncada said, “We can do that; we can mend that. We need to be conscious, allow for forgiveness to dwell.”
Student Life Vice-President, Jason Briar discussed how this forum is merely the first of many steps that need to be taken for strong campus relations.
“I think this is an ongoing process. This is the first step in creating a better campus— a campus that all students feel safe [in], a campus that allows all students to feel like they have a voice. A place where they feel safe to have a voice in. This forum was the first step in creating that. [To] come up with ideas to create a better understanding of our diversity culture.”
Reggie Langford, forum moderator talked about the importance of embracing culture and diversity.
“I think that once we get to that point, and we start to be more aware of those things, and we start to really embrace each and every person for who they are and not just embracing them for what they do on this campus. Embrace ‘em for who they are, who they truly are. I think we’ll be in a better spot.”
Steps are currently being made by the college to embrace culture and diversity among the students and faculty along with changes to ensure that all students feel safe and that their voices are heard.