Students disappointed in Eastern’s inaction

Emilie Bowman, Staff Reporter

The Diversity Action Council expressed its disappointment in Eastern for its lack of support of minority students during controversial situations. 

A rotating panel of students and faculty sat together at McAfee Gym to discuss what a “safe space” means to them, diversity and how to boost the overall atmosphere at Eastern. 

Psychology senior Claude Abdoulaye-Pedila spoke about her experiences on campus, accountability and empty promises from Eastern administration.

Abdoulaye-Pedila said administration hears what students have to say, but it does not do anything to assist them afterward. 

“I’m disappointed, but not surprised or shocked,” Abdoulaye-Pedila said. “I’m sounding like a broken record.”

Faculty and students alike shared their disappointment in administration for not backing up minorities and other oppressed groups when controversial situations arise. 

Abdoulaye-Pedila mentioned some students wanting to display a Black Lives Matter flag on campus last year, the event being the catalyst to conversations about social unrest at Eastern. 

Graphic design junior Asher Roper was unpleasantly surprised to see that Eastern’s atmosphere was not as inclusive as expected. 

“I held the school to high expectations with the propaganda about high diversity, about giving the best for your students, and when I got here, the first few months, I did not see any of that,” Roper said. “Even just walking through campus, it just felt very off. Even if they weren’t doing it directly, it just felt like the campus was very segregated, and people didn’t notice that.”

Brendan Fernandes, an artist displaying work at the Tarble Arts Center, said reinforcing racial binaries supports segregation.

“I think something that we’re missing is the question of solidarity. When we create fractures, when we create binaries, we’re separating each other,” Fernandes said. “I think it might be utopic to think of the safe space because ultimately what I think is a safe space is not going to be what you think of a safe space, but if we can find solidarity, that’s a really important place.”

Jeannie Ludlow, professor of English and Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies, started the night off by saying she does not use the words “safe space” in her classes because it is unrealistic to imply safety in the classroom can be guaranteed. 

Faculty and students alike talked about not only accountability on administration’s side, but also on the student’s side.

“If you’re afraid to take that step, to say what you want to say, you aren’t holding yourself accountable as students,” Roper said.

Political science junior Marcus Powell said there is a need for solidarity for all minority groups in order to create change.

“I feel that should be our main focus — to come together and not have separate safe places where everybody can feel comfortable,” Powell said. “That way we can get to learn from each other and see what differences we have in order to succeed together.”

The DAC sponsors the enhancement of minority student organizations on campus through collaboration, encouragement and integration. 

The event was co-sponsored by the Tarble Arts Center.

The DAC kicked the week off on Monday by holding an informational booth about mental health followed by a “colorism” event on Tuesday and “The Words We Use” info booth on Wednesday. 

Emilie Bowman can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected].