Students, community members march for unity against hate

Students+gather+in+front+of+Old+Main+during+Wednesday%E2%80%99s+unity+march.+Instead+of+walking+downtown%2C+the+group+stayed+on+campus+to+promote+their+message+to+fellow+students.

Elizabeth Taylor

Students gather in front of Old Main during Wednesday’s unity march. Instead of walking downtown, the group stayed on campus to promote their message to fellow students.

Austen Brown, Staff Reporter

Following the incident involving racial hate posters that were found around campus, dozens of Eastern students, faculty and Charleston residents participated in a walkout on Wednesday to portray a message of unity among ethnicities.

Elizabeth Taylor
Students gather in front of Old Main during Wednesday’s unity march. Instead of walking downtown, the group stayed on campus to promote their message to fellow students.

According to the details of the event on Facebook, the purpose of the walkout was to “bring awareness to the hate and white nationalist propaganda that has been left” on Eastern’s campus.

Those in attendance were encouraged to bring “signs, flags, posters, etc.” to help spread their message.

The students responded by marching with flags of their respective native countries and signs that included phrases such as “Black Lives Matter” and “F**k White Supremacists.”

Participants met in the Booth Library Quad, where students gave speeches regarding the cause for the walkout.

One student that spoke at the walkout was Diana Argueta, a sophomore graphic design major.

“Today we stand together as a whole to bring awareness to the hate and white supremacy propaganda that was placed on our beloved campus,” she said to the crowd of walkout participants. “We will not allow this type of action to happen to our minority students,” she said.

Argueta added: “(The people who left out the posters) used their freedom of speech to place these messages on our campus … so today we use our freedom of speech to shut it down.”

Logan Schemidt, an Eastern alum in attendance, said he was hesitant to participate but felt justified in joining for the opportunity to unite with minority community members.

“For me, unity is everything,” Schemidt said. “I felt that, ultimately, it was really important to show … that there’s also white people that care.”

He said the choice for a walkout was appropriate because it “show(s) students care deep enough to leave classes.”

“(The walkout) shows that there’s a huge group of people here willing to fight against (racism),” he said. “I just want everyone to feel safer.”

Christian Young-Perez, a freshman pre-physical therapy major, said he participated to “take a stand against negativity.”

“We don’t stand for hatred, and hatred really has no place here,” Young-Perez said.

He said white nationalists may attempt to retaliate to the walkout in the form of more hate messages and posters, but Eastern students would be prepared to stem any response.

Young-Perez said peaceful protests have been vital to the success of equal rights movements since the days of racial segregation.

Sophomore sociology major Lindsey Anderson said she participated to stand up for people of color on Eastern’s campus.

Anderson said she wanted to show racial minorities that they are “not alone in this fight.”

“I think (the walkout) is the most peaceful and direct way to get the message out,” she said.

She said the walkout relied on strength in numbers and the idea of showing that there are a lot of people on campus that care about this issue.

Maliyah Mapp-Smith, a freshman kinesiology and sports recreation major, said she feels it is very important for racial minorities to “stand up for what (they) believe in.”

Dayo Fatuga, another freshman kinesiology and sports recreation major, agreed, affirming that students will not tolerate racism on campus.

“(Racism) won’t be tolerated here at EIU,” Fatuga said. “Respect others as you want to be respected.”

Fatuga added: “We deserve everything that everyone else deserves.”

Austen Brown can be reached at 581-2812 or at [email protected].