EXCLUSIVE: RIT student gov loses its mind over request to discuss BLM somewhere else
In a private group chat with multiple RIT student government leaders, one student suggested taking a discussion about Black Lives Matter into a separate direct message.
Other students lamented the fact that some students allegedly do not consider Black Lives Matter to be “merely a fact.”
In response to the incident, minority students demanded mandatory training on how to deal with coworkers who “take space instead of make space for BIPOC.”
In a private Snapchat conversation between several student government leaders, one student shared an Instagram post featuring Rochester Institute of Technology students waving a Trump flag. After the post triggered a discussion about Black Lives Matter, some students in the group chat lamented that people make “BLM into a political argument” and do not consider it to be “merely a fact and not at all political.”
After members of the Rochester Institute of Technology’s student government suggested taking the conversation to a private message, other members felt “brushed off.” Later, the student government’s “Women of Color” published a list of demands in response to the incident.
In response to the Snapchat group conversation, students released a letter to the RIT community from “The Women of Color of Student Government.”
“In the midst of the conflict, students of color made it clear that Black lives do, in fact, matter and that saying this and working to bring this to a realization is not a ‘political statement,’” said the authors. “However, they were shut down by their White peers in Student Government's Cabinet. The students of color were told that it was the wrong place and wrong time for such a discussion while the topic was also dismissed as being inconvenient and too political.”
The authors were “disappointed but not surprised” by the actions of the “White student leaders,” who allegedly dismissed the “issue of racism to maintain their own sense of comfort.”
“It is also disrespectful when White student leaders decide on behalf of BIPOC students when, where, and how they are allowed to speak out against racism,” explained the authors. “White student leaders have benefitted from, and continue to benefit from, the racist oppressive system that harms (and sometimes kills) their peers.”
In response to the situation, the letter’s authors demanded an hour-long, mandatory presentation that would discuss “how to deal with co-workers who use rhetoric with racial and/or xenophobic undertones,” as well as co-workers who “take space instead of make space for BIPOC.”
They also requested the creation of a “Director of Ethical Governing” position in the student government, which would be charged with mediating conflict resolution and serving as a liaison with the university’s Division of Diversity & Inclusion.
Lastly, they asked for the establishment of an annual town hall that would focus on collecting feedback from minority students “regarding their experiences of racial prejudice and discrimination on campus.”
The president of the RIT student government declined to comment.
Campus Reform reached out to RIT for comment and will update this article accordingly.
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