In an effort to reduce inequality and facilitate a discussion regarding racism at Binghamton University, the Service for Health, Inequality reduction, Natural disaster relief and Education (S.H.I.N.E.) hosted “Instances of Racism on Campus” on Tuesday evening in the University Union.
From discussing incidents that occurred on campus to sharing opinions on the University’s response to instances of racism, the event aimed to encourage attendees to freely share their views and experiences of racism and inequality.
According to Lauren Reyes, treasurer for S.H.I.N.E. and a junior majoring in economics, the discussion was specifically created to foster an environment of education, while making sure these incidents aren’t forgotten.
“I feel like it’s important to never forget,” Reyes said. “Yes, these things happen and they may or may not get addressed, like [President] Harvey [Stenger] may or may not address them, or the minority community may or may not address them, but we are still aware of what’s going on.”
The event was part of S.H.I.N.E. Week, a semesterly series of events that aims to educate students on the organization’s main areas of focus. Angel Tatis, vice president of S.H.I.N.E. and a junior majoring in linguistics, said the discussion aimed to promote greater awareness of racist incidents and educate students on handling racism.
“These issues are still prevalent even though you don’t hear about them every day,” Tatis said. “I want people to address or to know of certain situations so they know how to handle it, or what to do or what not to do, or that they feel like they have the support that they’re going to need.”
The incidents brought up during the discussion were ones that Reyes and Tatis said have gone unaddressed, including the recent murder of Shakeel Khan, bigoted messages and comics written on whiteboards in Newing College in fall 2017 and last year’s email controversy, when Victor Skormin, a distinguished service professor of electrical and computer engineering, sent a message questioning why a “National Society of White Engineers” did not exist.
Students also discussed how well minority students are protected on campus and whether the University provides enough resources for handling hate-related instances. Jessica Mercedes, a junior majoring in Latin American and Caribbean area studies, said the University’s available resources are not enough to produce any effect.
“There’s a lot of resources on campus you can talk to, but you’re not going to get anything out of it,” Mercedes said. “It’s like talking to a wall.”
Mercedes said she also has concerns regarding how BU administrators, particularly BU President Harvey Stenger, discuss incidents of racism.
“He comes too much from a political approach for these situations,” Mercedes said. “I feel like he doesn’t understand and I get that he has wants to cater to all students but has no effect for us, minority people. He wants to make a solution for everyone when the problem is not with everyone; it is with one person.”
Ruby McEwen, an undeclared freshman, said tackling these subjects is important for tackling ignorance.
“I liked how it was an open discussion because I think it can be awkward talking about racism,” McEwen said. “I didn’t know about most of these instances that happened. For me, being here is kind of like a reality check for these issues. It’s really eye-opening and I think a lot of people are ignorant about what is actually going on.”
Upcoming S.H.I.N.E. events include a discussion on “Operation Varsity Blues,” a college admissions scandal, on Thursday, and a de-stress event on Friday.